A prototype mold is low cost injection molding tooling mainly used in order to obtain working parts.
Modifications can easily be made quickly to this type of tooling. Life expectancy of this type of mold is approximately up to 1,000 parts. Some of the parts can be produced in a common mold base that is used for prototype parts. Using a common mold base means that the customer is only charged for the cavity and core inserts. When purchasing a prototype mold or inserts, the most important part of the design is to have the mold or inserts made as if a production mold is being produced. One of the reasons for building a prototype is to prove out the parting line, mold cooling, gating and venting.
Low volume injection molding tooling is a medium cost injection mold that consists of one or two cavities which usually includes a mold base of pre-hardened steel. The life expectancy of this type of mold is approximately up to 500,000 parts. These types are considered production molds; usually the only difference from a high volume injection molding production mold is the amount of cavities.
High volume injection molding tooling is the most expensive which can include anywhere from 8 – 32 cavities, the mold base, hardened steel, and high wear material for all components. The injection molding life is usually guaranteed for one million cycles up to five million cycles with low maintenance needed for extended life. Due to the amount of cavities that are in these types of molds, the gating is usually done with a hot runner or a three-plate gate.
When purchasing one of these types of injection molds, there are a few things that should be addressed before a purchase order is given. One of the first things to find out is the mold life guarantee. If some malfunction or damage occurs to the mold, it should be repaired or replaced at no charge. This guarantee should be put in writing. Another item is if there is any mold maintenance included such as cleaning and inspection of the mold after a certain amount of cycles. Toth Mold/Die Inc. guarantees their molds for a certain amount of cycles depending on which grade of mold is purchased. Toth Mold/Die Inc. also maintains the molds that are in production in-house at no charge. The payment terms of the mold will vary from shop to shop. At no time should an injection mold be paid for in full until the injection molded part has been approved.