Mould n Die

What are mould and dies?

Mould and Dies are one of the typical capital goods as machine tools, and one of the tools necessary for modern industries to run mass-production. Customer industries for moulds and dies range broadly over transportation machinery, industrial machinery, electric machinery & equipment, household goods, office goods, optical devices & equipment, glass containers, construction materials & equipment, toys and sundries. As these products and equipment consist mostly of parts, units (sub assemblies) and components, which are used in volume, mould and dies are supplied virtually to every company manufacturing such equipment, products and parts & components. In terms of industrial applications, moulds and dies are classified into press dies, plastic mould, die casting dies, forging & casting dies and moulds, powder metallurgy dies, rubber dies and ceramics dies. Dies for press applications are classified into trimming, bending, drawing and compressing dies, which process materials such as steel sheets and non-ferrous metal sheets, and non-ferrous metal sheets, and used to produce parts and components for automobiles, consumer electric and electronic products, sundries and etc. Moulds for plastics are classified into such moulds as applied for injection, compression, transfer, blow and vacuum moulding, which process plastic materials and are used to produce parts and components for consumer electric and electronic products, automobiles, sundries and etc. Moulded plastic products are typically used in TV sets, QA equipment and consumer electric and electronic products, as well as in ballpoint pens, PET bottles, lunch boxes and food containers to mention a few.

As dies and moulds are capital goods for mass-production, they are rarely noticed outside industrial plants by general consumers, so that dies and moulds are tools that are difficult to be discerned in general, unlike implements. In understanding dies and moulds and their working, let us think of, for example a container for pudding and yogurt, packaged into a nice container and sold at affordable price, while these containers are processed or formed by plastics moulds. Melt plastic materials are fed under pressure into the cavity, a space formed the inside of a mould, to form a plastic container. As shapes of these containers differ in shape, each container that is different in shape requires its own mould. These moulds do not catch the eye of consumers, but without these moulds production of containers is impossible. A container or part is produced at a rate in the magnitude of several units per second, and in the production process a mould is incorporated into an injection moulder, a process machine, and plastic materials are fed into the cavity of the mould to form a specific container or part.

As dies and moulds help in the fabrication of parts and components, their accuracy determines the accuracy of the parts and components manufactured with them. When the required accuracy of a consumer good foe end use is stringent, parts used in the consumer good must be finished with the matching high accuracy, and the moulds used to fabricate these parts are required to have much higher accuracy. In the case of aluminium cans that package beverages, their notched tap, if any, poses a danger of injuring the lips of consumers, so that these cans are finished within the accuracy of 1 micron, while the accuracy of the corresponding moulds are in the magnitude of 0.1 micron.

The Importance of Die and Mould industry in the Manufacturing sector

Dies and moulds are integrated by a kind of tacit-knowledge based engineering, and they are of a critical capital good to determine the quality and price of products for end use. Dies and moulds are a critical capital good, but the accumulation of experiences is necessary for a country hopeful to newly develop its industrial sector to acquire manufacturing technology of moulds, and the build-up of such expertise on dies and moulds has necessitated the bringing up of skilled technicians, which takes time and is not so easy.

Dies and moulds are a cluster of product manufacturing knows how, and at the same time are essential elements in the mass-production process, but as far as an operator of the mass-production process remains dependent on dies and moulds supplied by vendors, the operator is not able to produce by himself the product that he wants to manufacture. As a result, demand for dies and moulds production emerges independently and thus the operator or his local vendor acquires machine tools as the process equipment for building moulds.

The manufacture of moulds requires capital goods (machine tools as process machinery) and such production goods as raw materials for moulds as well as parts and components of these dies and moulds. Moreover, in order to build these moulds, besides sophisticated process systems, master engineers and skilled technicians specializing in mould manufacture are also required. But, in recent years, machine tools have attained, through technological advancement, a high level of accuracy that only skilled technicians could realize in the past. Also, through the progress of computer software technology, preparation of drawings for dies and moulds has become much easier than in the past. Besides these developments, the remote control technology regulating machine tools has advanced substantially recently, so that it becomes possible to transmit the information of mould drawings as digital information, and control operation of machine tools from a remote place. In other words, if drawings for a product are available, it becomes possible to prepare drawings of dies and moulds for a product at one place, and transmits digitalized information of these moulds to remotely control machine tools and manufactured anywhere in the world as far technology is concerned.

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