Plastic Mold Company

We are a plastic mold company, provide plastic molds and moding service.

last yeat, An important customer came to ST Tooling from US, CA, requiring a new servcie palstic mold and plastic molding company.Driver’s Side Airbag Cover in critically short time. Initial parts from productive materials were required in only 4 weeks. Several rapid tooling processes were considered for this project. The PolySteel™ process was selected for the following reason:

  • Tool accuracy
  • Lowest cost
  • Fastest timing
  • Robust process

PolySteel™ is a new polymeric tooling process developed by ST Tooling of Fresno, CA. Tools are created directly from rapid prototype or other patterns. The material is highly loaded with steel (greater than 90% by weight). A very high degree of accuracy is maintained from the pattern due to negligible process shrinkage (.0002 in./in.). The resulting tools have exceptional strength and durability for injection molding applications. 

This major Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) had confidence the PolySteel™ process would work for this Airbag Cover project since PolySteel™ had already been proven successful with more abrasive materials requiring higher molding temperatures and pressures (such as ABS and Nylon 40% glass filled). 

Plastic Mold
Plastic Mold



The 12.5″ x 12.5″ x 6 Airbag Cover mold (317mm x 152mm) would normally require 8 separate components, 4 of which are slides. Due to the versatile nature of the PolySteel™ process the tool was produced with a 1-piece stripper plate, 2 core sections and 1 cavity, completely eliminating the need for slides, thus reducing total components by 50%. 

The part used to create the Airbag Cover mold was a stereolithography (SL) pattern. Since time was of the essence, the OEM’s in-house service bureau built the pattern over a weekend. Leather grain texture was applied to the exposed surface of the pattern using a special 2-day process. This greatly reduced the typical lead time required for conventional graining procedures. The PolySteel™ material was molded directly over the pattern without the need for machined inserts. The tool was constructed in a simple welded frame, which replaced the conventional mold base. Holes for the ejection system were molded in place. The characteristics of PolySteel™ made it possible to meet the demanding requirements of the Airbag Cover mold without the need for water cooling lines. Since the PolySteel™ process replicated the grain on the pattern, the parts produced from production intent materials were able to be used for show as well as deployment testing. 

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More than 100 Airbags Covers were molded in the PolySteel™ tool to meet initial requirements. Over the following month, the mold was used for parametric studies by revising the tear seam and changing the emblem embossment area. Modifications of this nature are accomplished quickly and easily in PolySteel™ tools. An additional 225 parts were then produced from three (3) alternate productive materials. 

Even with the premium paid for expedited delivery, the PolySteel™ tooling process still saved the OEM 12% in tool costs and even more significantly 80% in typical timing. This tooling technology played a key role enabling delivery of a new Driver’s Side Airbag Cover in a timely manner for a very important customer. 

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Polypropylene Plastic Material

Polypropylene

The Polypropylene market continues to charge into higher ground. Spot resin prices have been climbing weekly and are now up about $.22/lb for the year. Propylene monomer looks to be settling $.04/lb higher for November, and depending on resin producer, there is another $.04 or $.05/lb price increase nominated for December, so we anticipate resin prices to continue heading upward. 

Polypropylene demand has been very good, so even though there has been a fair amount of spot resin offered, it has been selling quickly. This has not been a market for buyers to negotiate hard, but resin could be bought as it is offered. Even those offers that seem slightly expensive for the market are disappearing and then the new offers come in priced a little bit higher.

It has been a tough market for Polypropylene buyers, barely a price pause all year. Last year some processors claimed that they could not make money if they had to pay more than $.35/lb for their resin. Now at $.55/lb it seems that some have learned that they could make more money selling off their resin inventory rather than actually processing the pellets! It is a creative and temporary solution for survival, but in the long run processors need to continue passing along higher costs downstream at an even faster pace. 

Polypropylene producers, on the other hand, are mostly in pretty good shape; they have achieved more increases in resin prices than their feedstock costs have advanced. They have utilized the export market to reduce their inventory positions and have been running their reactors, with good margins, at near sold out levels.

The US dollar continues to devalue and has made all-time lows against the Euro and multiyear lows versus the Asian currencies. This makes US products, resin included effectively on sale to foreign markets. Foreign resin demand is picking up again and producers are still looking to export what they can, but US prices have risen to the point that they are only competitive, and are not an especially great deal to foreign buyers.

Polystyrene
The Polystyrene market made its big move higher in the late summer adding $.16/lb in less than two months; prices have since consolidated at this elevated level. During this time, price protection expired on even the largest processors, so producers are finally caught up in passing through their sharply higher monomer costs. Even with styrene monomer around $.60/lb, current PS selling prices should be sufficient for profitable resin production.

Polystyrene producers still have plenty of ground to makeup from losses earlier in the year, when feedstock costs soared much faster than resin price increases could be implemented. So expect their best effort to maintain control of the market to protect and even extend their price gains.

Producers had an $.08/lb price increase slated for Nov 1st, but the market was still tired and not been ready for another surge. Polystyrene prices have even come off a couple of cents from their peak, with an ample supply of both HIPS and GPPS now available in the spot market. However, processors’ inventories are low and this market could change quickly now that producers are more realistically looking to enforce $.04/lb on Nov 15th and market permitting, the other $.04/lb on Dec 1st. 

Die Casting Offer Rapid Tooling

GC Die Casting Offer Rapid Tooling

Cleveland, OH – Advancements in rapid machining and prototyping are being developed at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) that will considerably shorten the lead time for die casting tooling. Rapid tooling is important when a relatively small number of parts are required. This is important to DLA when tooling is no longer available to produce spare parts for aging weapon systems. Tooling lead time can play critical role to the overall procurement lead time, significantly affecting weapon system readiness. Rapid tooling methods that shorten lead times and reduce costs will expand the DLA casting supply base for high quality, dimensionally accurate parts.

Over the past year, CWRU has been working with NADCA and GC Die Casting company to develop a higher quality heat sink for military-tracked vehicles utilizing rapid tooling methods. Rubberized tank tracks are subjected to demanding operating conditions. In addition to normal wear and tear, they are exposed to temperature extremes that can affect performance and result in separation between the rubber and the track. To prevent separation, an aluminum heat sink that absorbs excessive heat from the rubber is embedded between the track and the rubber. Die casting is the most cost effective fabrication method for this heat sink because of the large production volumes involved.

GC Die Casting company, the die caster for these parts, had to frequently replace the HI3 steel dies because of excessive thermal fatigue cracking. The project team recommended replacing the HI3 steel dies with two alternate grades of steel. The new dies were completed in record time utilizing rapid tooling methods. Compared to HI3, a die set fabricated from one of the alternate steel grades produced twice as many castings before any welding repair was deemed necessary. The die set fabricated from the other alternate steel grade made three to four times as many castings. NADCA and AFS are supporting the technology transfer to their membership and CWRU is applying the lessons learned on Rapid Tooling to recent USCAR and DOE projects. In the the coming year, CWRU will collect, process, and report performance data from the rapid tooling production guidelines for fabrication of rapid tooling. The close collaboration and synergy fostered by the AMC program between the R&D teams, the CAST-IT application engineers, and the metalcasting associations and their members is very unique, making significant contributions to DLA and the metalcasting industry.