What is toolmaking?

Toolmaking or tooling in plastic injection moulding is the process of designing, cutting, and finishing a mould tool to produce plastic mouldings.

What is a mould tool?

A mould tool is a large cube of steel which has two halves and from which a cavity is removed. When producing an injection moulded part, the two halves of the tool are pushed together, molten plastic is injected into the tool and cooled. The two halves then separate, and the plastic part is released.

Mould tools can have single or multiple cavities. A single cavity produces one part per moulding cycle, a multiple cavity tool may produce two, four, or dozens of depending on the number of cavities.

What is a toolmaker?

A toolmaker makes and repairs tools. These skilled engineers design, test and produce mould tools. Toolmakers also repair and modify mould tools and make the jigs and guides that may be required to manufacture them.  

How are mould tools made?

All mould tools at BEC start out as a large piece of P20 steel and a set of drawings for the part required. Using CAD/CAM software a toolmaker produces a 3D visual guide and instructions for CNC machineryto cut the steel tool.  After the mould cavity and core have been machined the toolmaker finishes the part with a specified level of smoothness or texture.  

Toolmakers use CNC machines, surface grinders, CNC lathes and EDM machines amongst others.

Can BEC Group help me with my tool design?

Yes, we can help you at every stage of the tool design process. Our customers focus on what they want their final plastic part to be, and our design and tooling team will handle the rest. Our team will reduce unnecessary features and costs at this stage to help save you money when producing your tooling. This is called a design for manufacture.

How much will the tool cost?

Mould tools can range hugely in price from five thousand to fifty thousand pounds and everything in between. Tool costs depend on the size of the steel tool required and how long the tool takes to produce. A large, multi-cavity tool with complex sliders and an intricate finish is much more time-consuming and therefore expensive than a simple single cavity tool with a machined finish.

Our team will provide a cost for the mould tool before work begins.

Do I own the tool once it is made?

Yes, at BEC once a tool is completed the customer is invoiced for producing it. Once this invoice has been paid, the tool is yours. You are free to take your tool from BEC at any time if you wish. This is not always the case with tooling, so be sure to check with your toolmaker that you will own your tool once it is made-otherwise you may face significant costs to take your tool away.

What is rapid tooling and does BEC do it?

Rapid tooling is a method of producing injection mould tooling in far quicker lead times than normal.

BEC Group produce rapid tooling by using development tools. These mould tools are still made from P20 steel; but may only be single cavity and have less intricacies in the design to make the tooling easier and quicker to carry out.

Would you like to know more about toolmaking at BEC? Or do you have a specific project you’d like to discuss with us? Please get in touch via hello@becgroup.com or call us on 01425 613 131.