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High Quality Molds Require High Quality Materials and Components

Part 3 of 6 in the “How to Build Quality Molds in China” Series

Written by Greg Pugh, Project Engineer for GSM


_MG_5561In my last post, I discussed the need to start with a high quality part design when developing a high quality mold. Additionally, I presented GSM’s role in accomplishing that objective through the DFM (Design For Manufacturing) review process. This month, I want to briefly discuss the need for high quality materials and components in order to build high quality molds.

When I think of this discussion of the quality materials, I am reminded of those rumors we all hear occasionally that some restaurant chain is using “mystery meat” to improve their bottom line. We don’t use mystery meat in my home and yet my 11-year old daughter still closely inspects much of what she eats. I try to discourage her pickiness by telling her: If you stare down what’s on your fork long enough, you are likely to find something not-so-perfect about it. However, she is right to hold her food to a certain standard of quality. I, too, want to know that the food I’m putting in my body will give me the reaction I expect from my taste buds, and eventually, my stomach. Why save a little money and buy the mystery meat red hot dogs when you can pay another buck for the all-beef variety? Ultimately, I believe it’s worth the little bit extra to get quality food.

Similar to feeding a picky kid, building tooling in Asia can be challenging. In China, there are many steel products that are called P-20. We know from experience that all P-20s are not equal. The wrong time to discover that you’ve bought a low quality P-20 is when you are welding for an EC during production and suddenly porosity and inclusions open up in the parent steel. For this reason, isn’t it worth a little bit of extra money to be sure you’re getting high quality steel?

At GSM, we want to provide a smooth production process and tools that produce the desired result for the expected life of that tool. The components and materials used in both our domestic and Asian molds are all specifically certified grades of steel from internationally recognized suppliers. Additionally, when sourcing from Asia, we check steel quality and hardness onsite using our full-time Chinese engineering staff.

When building mold bases, the standard that GSM uses in molds built in Asia is LKM. LKM is an internationally recognized high quality mold base and component supplier, like DME and HASCO in North America and Europe. Standard mold base plates are AISI 4140 (pre-hard) steel just as in North America. 420 Stainless steel mold base plates are also available.

When it comes to cavity steel quality, you have as many options in Asia as in North America. GSM’s standard core, cavity, slide, and lifter steels are German DIN standard products widely available in Asia through distributors. GSM often builds molds with hard steel (mainly H-13 or 420 SS ) cavities for high volume, long life, or for use with abrasive/corrosive resins. P-20 steel continues to be a standard for most automotive applications.

GSM’s primary hot manifold suppliers for molds built worldwide are Incoe, Mold Masters, and Synventive based on our customers’ preferences, system quality, build lead times, and global availability of spare parts.

Specialty materials, such as Porcerax* (porous steel), BeCu, MoldMax*, and Ampco* Bronze are also available to GSM internationally. These materials can make a huge difference in productivity in particular applications.

In short, why settle for mystery materials when high quality materials are available. GSM is proud to offer production tooling that will last, built from high quality materials.


* Porcerax, MoldMax, and AMPCO are registered trademarks

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