Prototype Injection Molding Tooling Materials Which is Better Aluminum or Steel

Knowing the different options you have when working with injection molding is essential. It will help you understand how they can affect your overall production. You have to know the pros and cons of working with the two most popular materials – steel and aluminum.

Injection molding materials have different properties and applications. To achieve the best prototype injection molding results, you should choose the most appropriate material for the mold base and core depending on project requirements.

Steel For Injection Molding

The most common material used for injection molding prototype is the P20 steel. One reason is because of its unique characteristics. Steel also has the following properties:

  • Heat treatment after machining
  • Hardness
  • Good thermal stability
  • Good polishing capability
  • Better corrosion resistance
  • Resistance to wear and tear

Steel is very versatile and characterized by its moderate strength level and hardness. It is generally available in pre-hardened at a hardness of around 300 HBW. P20 steel has a homogeneous mixture of alloys that enable the material to achieve uniform hardness. As compared to other materials, the P20 steel contains metals like nickel and chromium that enhances its hardness and strength.

The significant impact of using this material will be on the end product. It will have the ability to produce thousands of parts with less wear and tear. If you have a large production like 50,000 plus parts, this is a good idea.

Aluminum for Injection Molding

Aluminum is a popular material used in injection molding. Some of the reasons for its popularity are as follows:

  • Its heat transfer rate is 5x better. With the right conductivity, the position of cooling lines is less critical, therefore enabling more mold components to be placed.
  • This material has shown a reduction of about 30% in production cycle time.
  • As compared to steel, the heat treatment process for aluminum is better since you don’t have to send it out for annealing. The method of heat treatment for metals to remove internal stresses and toughen the material is known as annealing.
  • When it comes to cost, aluminum is less costly than steel.

Aluminum molds may have its benefits, but it is capable of producing fewer units up to two thousand units, while steel can generate a minimum of 50,000 units.  So, if you are working on small production, aluminum is the preferred tooling method that will not cost you that much.

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