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Standard tooling | DFM

Using tool standards can help control cost and shorten lead times. Andre Eichhorn explains how and discusses integration of standardised tooling within the DFM product development process

Reaping the benefi t of tool standards

There are some real benefi ts for moulders and buyers of plastics components in terms of cost, lead time and part quality in developing a standardised mould tool strategy. But, as with every step in the product development chain, gaining the maximum benefi t means considering implications and restrictions early in the design process. Several methods can be used to establish a tool

standard that will benefi t your business. In general, these standards – Tool Requirement Specifi cations (TRS) – focus on OEM and/or contract manufacturer requirements and can be considered as guide lines in a documented form. A general TRS document will typically defi ne the

interfaces to be used between the injection moulding machine and the mould tool such as the water and hotrunner connectors, clamping system fi xings and the connection to the centre ejector. It may also specify some general Critical to Function (CTF) mould compo- nents such as mould locks, hotrunner equipment, wear plates, cycle counters and the like. The next level would be to develop a fully defi ned tool

standard. This “standard tool system” can include several tool sizes and tool functions that can be used to produce a specifi c range of injection moulded parts. AST Technology has developed a global standard of this type for a manufacturer of mobile phones. There are several reasons for having a tool standard

system. Firstly, by working with a range of off-the-shelf mould components, your own tool production shop can

focus solely on the critical cavity/core area. The complete mould base can be received from a certifi ed supplier fully machined and ready for assembly. Today this service can be provided by many hotrunner suppliers, who can deliver the complete hot-half of an injection mould tool. Figure 1 shows an exploded view of a standard

system developed and maintained by AST Technology for an OEM client. The mould tool shown consists almost exclusively of parts supplied fi nished machined by sub suppliers. In this example, even the cavity core area was ordered as pre-machined blank parts which just needed to be customised to the moulded compo- nent geometry. Figure 2 shows two different mobile phone covers intended to be moulded using the same system and same off-the-shelf blank parts for core insert and surrounding sliders. By using this system it was possible to build a complete 4-cavity mass production tool in less than 4 weeks. Because standard mould components can be sitting on the shelf waiting to be pulled for the next project, lead times can be reduced and cost visibility for each individual project improved. However, there are also some constraints. Prime among these is that a tool standard may not be applicable for every injection moulding part or project. Prior to the development of a fully specifi ed tool

standard, careful consideration needs to be paid to the components to be moulded. All components need to be categorized, and every category assigned to a specifi c

September 2013 | INJECTION WORLD 67

Main image: A standard tool design

developed by AST for an

international mobile phone

fi rm to simplify its production and shorten lead times.

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