Sie sind auf Seite 1von 20

Emilian Popa

Mold Material & Heat Treatment 2- Mold Material

Injection Molding Design Guide Manual 2012

Limiting our scope to a mold for plastic injection molding, steel is the most popular material. Particularly JIS S50C and S55C are mostly applied because these are standard materials of the mold bases in the market. It is important to select right material to satisfy purpose of the mold and its application on the part of end users. If necessary, heat-treating or surface finish must be carried out to satisfy requirements. Here we will take up materials to be used for main parts of the mold, cavity and core. 2-1 Mold Material 2-1-1 Basics Normally users specification specifies if the material is of heat-treated (quenched) or not heat-treated (raw) for cavity and core material. Note that pre-hardened steel, which is heattreated when supplied but will not be heat treated after machining, is classified as raw steel.

Table 2.1.1.1 shows various steel for plastic mold with bland names. Molds made of asrolled steel and prehardened steel belong to raw type. Pre-hardened steel is heat-treated having 30~40 HRC hardness and yet having a good machineability. Molds made of prehardened steel are used without heat treatment. Thus the mold processing is the same as that of as-rolled steel. Cost of a mold is also similar in both cases. On the other hand, there are two types in quenched type. One is to harden and temper the mold after machining and to finish the mold just by simple polishing. Another is to finish a heat-treated mold with a certain deformation clearance by a grinder or EDM (Electric discharge machine). The former is used for a mold, which does not require high precision but only erosion resistance. Thus the cost is on the same level as raw type. But the latter involves time consuming finishing on the hardened steel surface. Thus the cost is much higher than raw type. Qualified material for mold should satisfy following points Good machineability. High abrasion resistance. High corrosion resistance. High toughness. High strength. Homogeneous property without segregation and pin holes. Good heat-treating with less deformation. Good heat conductivity. Reasonable price. -1-

Emilian Popa

Easy procurement.

Injection Molding Design Guide Manual 2012

No single material satisfies all items above. Particularly the extent of abrasion resistance to determine mold life is deeply related to machineability that affects cost of a mold (Fig. 2-1-1.1). Major factors for determining mold material in the users specification are number of injection shot, application and molding material.

2-1-2 Number of shots and mold material Total number of shots is a product of monthly production volume and mold life. Total number of shots = monthly production volumemold life (month) Naturally, a mold having less number of shots will be made of cost conscious material because depreciation cost per shot needs to be lowered as much as possible, while a mold having high number of shots will be made of life conscious material. Note that in this case cost means machining cost rather than material cost. Characteristics and application of popular steel materials for mold for plastic molding is shown below in the order of low durability (Table 2.1.1.1). 2-1-2-1 SC steel

-2-

Emilian Popa

Injection Molding Design Guide Manual 2012

S50C and S55C are used for material of mold bases available in the market. They are widely used for cavity and core material of which total shots are less than 100,000. Particularly they are applicable for large molds. Table 2.1.1.1 shows SC steel under both as- rolled steel and pre-hardened steel. It is recommended to use pre-hardened one for cavity and core due to better abrasion resistance. 2-1-2-2 SCM steel Generally machineability of SCM steel is not so good comparing with SC steel. Prehardened steel adjusted for better machineability with 28~33HRC hardness is often used for cavity and core material, mold base material, mold plates and holders that require hardness to certain extent. 2-1-2-3 AISI-P21 steel This is a kind of pre-hardened steel, precipitation hardened with 40 HRC hardness, originated to AISI-P21 of US specification. This should stand for 500,000 shots for usual resins. There are two types. One is a material with improved machinebility, close to S50C and S55C, by adding lead (Pb) and sulfur (S). Another is a material with improved machinebility for electric discharge machining, texturing ability and polishing. Apply one way or another depending upon mold characteristics. So far steel materials that are not quenched after machining have been introduced. These materials have benefits of easier machining, costs and delivery comparing with quenched type. Currently 40HRC hardness of pre-hardened steel is the hardest, but it is expected to be 50 HRC hardness in view of recent development in high speed and high precision machining capability for hard metals. 2-1-2-4 SKD-61 SKD-61 steel is normally used for die-cast mold as tool steel for hot processing. But it also is applicable for plastic mold for relatively large production volume. Table 2.1.1.1 shows this material under pre-hardened steel with 40 HRC hardness. But normally raw steel is machined and quenched to 50 HRC hardness after machining. A life of quenched mold can stand for at least one million shots for usual resins. If conditions are met, 2~3 times longer life can be expected. SKD-61 can be nitride to the extent of 0.05mm in depth with 900HV hardness or more. It means that nitride layer still exists after finishing as much as 0.01~0.02mm. Therefore nitride SKD-61 is quite effective for a mold that is subject to galling or seizing.

-3-

Emilian Popa
2-1-2-5 SKD-11

Injection Molding Design Guide Manual 2012

SKD-11 steel is normally used for press mold as tool steel for cold processing. But it is also applicable for mold for plastic with reinforced fiberglass or for mass production. SKD-11 has high resistance to abrasion. When it is quenched at 58~60 HRC hardness, SKD-11 can stand for around 5 million shots without special coating on the surface. Weakness may be poor machineability and toughness. Steel suppliers are developing improved SKD- 11 to cover such weakness. As Table 2.1.1.1 shows, grains are laid out in dense and homogeneity. Thus powder forging is made available. SKD-11 is applicable for molds that requires mirror polishing and abrasion resistance. Mold Design (Advance) Page 56 2-1-2-6 Powder metal This is applicable for a mold for super mass production, super engineering plastics with reinforced fibers, IC, etc.. Similarly to SKD-11, this is made from powder metallurgy process. Powder metal is superior to high-speed tool steel (SKH-51) in terms of hardness and toughness, but the cost is much higher. Therefore this is often used partially in the form of inserts wherever high abrasion resistance is required. So far we have discussed about typical mold materials in relation with number of shots required for a mold. It is advised to analyze available materials, applications, number of shots, etc. for mold design. a sample of which is shown in Table 2.1.2.6.1

-4-

Emilian Popa

Injection Molding Design Guide Manual 2012

2-1-3 Plastic materials and mold materials Depending upon plastic material that may include, reinforced fibers or additives, requirements for abrasion or corrosion resistance vary on the part of cavity and core. 2-1-3-1 Reinforced plastic Reinforced plastic with filled material such as fiberglass causes high abrasion on the mold. The extent of abrasion is higher if the amount of filled material is greater and the material is harder. For example when glass fiber content is more than 30%, the mold life will become 10~ 20% of the life otherwise. Mold materials for anti-abrasion were discussed in the previous section. Be minded that hard steel material may cause chipping due to inferior toughness. It may be necessary to lower the hardness and compensate it by surface treatment such as PVD. 2-1-3-2 Flame retardant plastic

-5-

Emilian Popa

Injection Molding Design Guide Manual 2012

Flame retardant plastic that includes halogen (bromine) or fluororesin produces corrosive gas under heat and pressure in the molding. This will shorten the life of a mold. In the case of PVC, chlorine gas is generated. Thus you need to select mold material with high corrosion resistance. 2-1-3-2-1 13Cr stainless steel This is a stainless steel material to include 13% of chromium. This may be called 13Cr steel or SUS420 in JIS. 13Cr SUS is not quite high in corrosion resistance, but being prehardened steel of Martensite structure it can be used as it is due to its reasonable hardness 33HRC or can be quenched to 50HRC if needed. Thus 13Cr SUS can be used for a mold to be mirror polished or to be used for fire retard resin or fluororesin. 2-1-3-2-2 SUS 630 This is a precipitation-hardened stainless steel having high corrosion resistance. This is supplied as prehardened steel with 35HRC hardness. SUS 630 stainless steel is applicable for a mold for highly corrosive resin such as PVC. 2-1-3-2-2 SUS 630 This is a precipitation-hardened stainless steel having high corrosion resistance. This is supplied as prehardened steel with 35HRC hardness. SUS 630 stainless steel is applicable for a mold for highly corrosive resin such as PVC. 2-1-3-2-3 Transparent resin Cavity and core need to be mirror polished when transparent resins such as GPPS, AS, PITAC,PMMA, PC, etc. are molded. Particularly for photoproducts such as optical discs or lenses, high grade of transparency is required. Although JIS provides no specific standard for mold steel for plastic injection molding, special steel suppliers made such standard available for our application. Referring to such references select appropriate steel material to be mirror polished for transparent resin molding. Improved materials are often processed by special smelting processing such as vacuum process which brings about homogeneous and dense grain structure with minimum segregation and pin holes so as to assure a mold to satisfy with precise transcription capability. 13Cr stainless steel for such purpose is normally made by vacuum process to suit precision mirror polishing. 2-1-3-2-4 Thin products

-6-

Emilian Popa

Injection Molding Design Guide Manual 2012

Steel material for thin core or fine core is required to be with high rigidity and high toughness, particularly when injection is made from one side only. For such application, Maraging steel to include 18% Ni is recommended. Maraging steel is supplied as solution treated condition and is to be hardened to 53HRC through age hardening. This material is often used for thin wall core, mirror polished core, and ejector pin with thin wall or small diameter. 2-1-4 Other mold materials As explained so far, steel material is most balanced in properties as mold material. Thus it is widely used. Other materials than steel are being introduced for particular applications. 2-1-4-1 Aluminum alloy Mold for extremely small production volume is not necessary is of steel material. Mold made of aluminum alloy can stand for 20,000~30,000 shots. You may extend the life even more by hardening the mold surface with alumite processing. But be aware that aluminum alloy is always subject to damage on its surface because of soft material by nature. Benefits gained from this material must be low cost, short delivery and improved cycle time due to high thermal conductivity. 2-1-4-2 Copper Alloys Beryllium copper (BeCu) is a typical copper alloy used for copper alloy mold for plastic molding. This material can be improved in abrasion resistance through age hardening. Advantage of copper alloy is its high thermal conductivity, while disadvantage must be its high cost. Therefore copper alloy is used for inserts to remove heat from hot spots. Application to a whole cavity is limited to pressure casting and precision casting, which will be explained afterward (Fig. 2-1-4-2.1). In processing BeCu by EDM, be equipped with partial ventilation facility due to generation of toxic gas. As polar consumption is high, processing BeCu by EDM is better be avoided. BeCu has limitation for corrosion resistance, but it can be improved by electro less nickelplating on the surface as much as 0.01mm. In this way it will be also improved in abrasion resistance. 2-1-4-3 Tungsten carbide alloy -7-

Emilian Popa

Injection Molding Design Guide Manual 2012

Tungsten carbide alloy consists of tungsten carbide (WC), cobalt (Co) and nickel (Ni). Tungsten carbide alloy with more of cobalt, which has high transverse strength, is used for mold applied to disc mold (CD), mold for highly reinforced resin, IC mold, etc.. Strength of carbide alloy mold is its high abrasion resistance, while weakness is its high cost. Thus this material should be used just as inserts to the more extent than BeCu. In order to cover its small transverse strength, which is a half of steel, it is recommended to apply shrink fitting wherever applicable. Also be aware that its thermal expansion coefficient is different from that of steel. Therefore pay attention to fitting accuracy when it is used as an insert for high temperature application.

2-2 Heat Treatment and Coating Physical properties of steel such as tensile strength, hardness, elongation, etc. vary in accordance with amount of carbon contents. To a greater extent, heat treatment will influence to physical properties. We can say that good steel characteristics can be realized depending upon how the steel is heat-treated. In these days, not only heat treatment but also surface hardening process such as PVD is applied on mold to satisfy expected longer life of molds or requirements from engineering plastic molding. Importance of heat treatment is sometimes overlooked because we normally subcontract heat treatment to outside vendors without being involved. But it is important to understand basics of heat treatment and surface coating to be able to specify appropriate processing to satisfy objectives of the mold. 2-2-1 Heat treatment -8-

Emilian Popa

Injection Molding Design Guide Manual 2012

Let us review basics of heat treatment. 2-2-1-1 Basics of heat treatment Steel changes in atomic sequence due to allotropic transformation and structure due to solid solution and separation of carbide in steel under thermal influence. Heat treatment is to utilize such changes in characteristics of steel material. 2-2-1-1-1 Allotropic transformation Pure iron has a form of iron of body-centered cubic structure up to 911C, and transforms to iron of face-centered cubic structure from 911C to 1392C. When iron transforms to iron, the volume shrinks. The reverse transformation causes expansion (Fig. 2-2-1-1-1.1). In the case of steel, transformation temperature and structure vary substantially depending upon carbon contents. This relationship is given in a graph known as Iron-carbon equilibrium chart. You may refer it to textbook or handbook supplied by steel manufacturer. A sample is shown in Fig. 2-2-1-1-1.2.

-9-

Emilian Popa

Injection Molding Design Guide Manual 2012

2-2-1-2 Heat-treating Method Important point for heat treatment lies in how to heat and how to cool. When heating, temperature is the important factor, while in cooling the cooling speed is the important factor. Heating Heating rate: Heating should be done slowly except for surface quenching. The rate of 30 minuets per one inch for rising ambient to designated temperature is well accepted standard. Simultaneous temperature rising from surface to the center is ideal. Heating temperature: Tempering and annealing are carried out at lower than A1, transformation temperature (727). Complete annealing and quenching are carried out at A3 transformation temperature (or A1) + 50. In the case of alloy tool steel, often used for mold, the temperature is 800 ~ 880 for SKS steel and 950 ~ 1050 for SKD steel taking account of influence of alloy elements. Temperature is determined referring to technical data from steel suppliers and JIS as well. Cooling Cooling rate: Basic is to anneal slowly and quench fast. But low carbon steel requires fast annealing and certain steel can be quenched under slow cooling rate. Particularly influence of cooling rate varies substantially for alloy tool steel. Thus you should refer

- 10 -

Emilian Popa

Injection Molding Design Guide Manual 2012

specific transformation curve (TTT curve or S curve) given in hand book or catalog supplied by steel suppliers for appropriate cooling rate. Cooling range: Referring to Fig. 2-2-1-2.1, steel with poor quenching characteristic shows nose of S curve in a short time, while steel with good quenching characteristic shows the nose in the late stage. In quenching, cooling rate should be controlled in a way that temperature up to Ms point (Martensite point) should stay out of the nose in question. In short, cooling rate should be controlled to cool fast from heated point to Ms point and to cool slowly after Ms point to assure homogeneous Martensite.

2-2-1-3 Quenching and tempering The purpose of annealing and normalizing is to soften the steel, to relieve internal strain or to improve internal structure. While, in the case of mold, quenching and tempering are conducted to improve hardness, strength and abrasion resistance. - 11 -

Emilian Popa

Injection Molding Design Guide Manual 2012

Quenching is a process in which heated steel in Austenite temperature is changed to Martensite grain structure by being cooled quickly. As explained, once steel is heated to quenching temperature, iron and carbide changes to iron solid solution (austenite) with shrinkage, and in cooling process, solid solution changes to solid solution with expansion. High carbon steel or high alloy steel, which is often used for mold, tends to leave austenite structure in martensite structure. Important point to assure dimensional stability of mold is how to minimize retained austenite content through appropriate heat-treating. Tempering is done immediately after quenching at lower temperature than A1, transformation point (727C). In the tempering, low tempering is done at 150C ~ 200C and high tempering is done at 400 ~ 650C. A few important considerations in quenching and tempering mold will be explained below. 1. To regard quenching and tempering as one process Tempering must be done immediately after quenching. You should never skip tempering nor temper after elapsed time. Even if quenching temperature is happened to be bit low for a material which is not hardened by tempering, you should carry out tempering with low temperature around 100C. In this way toughness will be improved without losing hardness. Sometimes tempering is conducted at low temperature at 180C intending to improve toughness knowing some sacrifice in losing hardness. Normally it is advised to quench at austenite temperature and then to temper at 400 ~ 600C to assure intended hardness. 2. To temper at high temperature It is advised to apply high temperature (400 ~ 650C) for tempering mold for not only high temperature molding for thermosetting resin or super engineering plastics but also for usual thermo plastic resins. High temperature tempering can minimize remaining austenite structure to cause dimensional deflection as time elapses, and can minimize deflection due to heat treatment when surface hardening such as PVD is conducted. When high temperature tempering is conducted on many kinds of alloy tool steel, hardness can be improved at 500C due to improved conversion to martensite grain structure (Fig. 2-2-1-3.1). Refer to catalogs and handbooks supplied by tool steel manufactures for further details.

- 12 -

Emilian Popa

Injection Molding Design Guide Manual 2012

3. Subzero treatment for long life precision mold

- 13 -

Emilian Popa

Injection Molding Design Guide Manual 2012

Problem incurred from remaining austenite can be solved by high temperature tempering for usual molds. If a mold is for high precision to be used at high temperature (100 or higher) for long period of time, subzero treatment is recommended. Subzero treatment is conducted immediately after quenching when austenite is not stabilized. It is to hold the mold for certain time length at minus 100, and to temper at high temperature afterward. Subzero treatment minimizes retained austenite structure, thus assures to minimize deformation after elapsed time, and in addition improveshardness (Fig. 2-2-1-3.2). 4. To apply steel with high quenching characteristic Mass effect is a phenomenon in that cooling rate at the center of material cannot be as fast as the surface so that the quenched hardness cannot be attained in the center of thick material. Mass effect is associated with thickness of the material to be quenched and quenching characteristic of the material. You need not too much concern about mass effect on the mold for plastic molding because quenched hardness is not required in the center the mold wall usually. However be minded in this respect if cavity and core are odd shaped so that quenching of a material with poor quenching characteristic may invite cracks or deformation due to mass effect.

2-2-1-4 Vacuum heat treatment Vacuum heat treatment is conducted in a vacuum environment of a certain vacuum rate. For quenching, usually 10-2 ~ 10-5 tore (mmHg) of vacuum rate is applied. The vacuum furnace is made to vacuum condition before heating. This is to take oxygen out to protect the mold from oxidization. And then the furnace is heated by adding nitrogen 0.5 torr to minimize evaporation of steel element. Characteristics of vacuum heat treatment are as follows. Shiny surface can be attained without oxidization influence. Deformation can be minimized through proper installation of a product in the furnace. - 14 -

Emilian Popa

Injection Molding Design Guide Manual 2012

Automated heat treatment reduces manpower overhead. Working environment is clean and comfortable because the furnace is insulated. There is no environmental issue like salt bath furnace. Cost of facility is high.

- 15 -

Emilian Popa

Injection Molding Design Guide Manual 2012

2-2-2 Surface treatment Limiting our scope to surface hardening, various processes are classified as shown in Table 2.2.2.1. Below explained is some of the surface hardening processing often used for the mold of plastic molding. In order to improve surface hardening quality, some combined processes are applied.

- 16 -

Emilian Popa

Injection Molding Design Guide Manual 2012

2-2-2-1 Gas Nitriding An object is heated in the atmosphere of nitride gas such as ammonia gas (NH3) to be diffusionpermeated by carbon and nitrogen. Characteristics of this process can be summarized as follows:

- 17 -

Emilian Popa

Injection Molding Design Guide Manual 2012

Any small surface of any kind such as internal surface of small hole can be hardened. Assuming proper tempering at higher temperature than nitride temperature is conducted, deformation is small due to processing in rather low temperature (500 for alloy tool steel). Does not influence surface roughness. All steel except stainless steel can be treated, particularly effective for SCM steel, SKD-61 steel and prehardened steel of precipitation hardened type. There is no environmental problem as salt bath Nitriding. White layer (or layer), hard and brittle composite, is formed on the surface. But this can be minimized by controlling temperature and nitrogen concentration precisely.

In view of various characteristics above, a mold can be gas-nitride after finishing or before final finishing. In the case of precision mold, gas Nitriding is conducted before final finish by leaving finishing margin 0.01 ~ 0.02 mm. Nitride depths is at most 0.05 mm even for SKD-61. Therefore amount of margin for finishing should be limited. Gas Nitriding is effective against galling and seizing. Therefore you can apply this surface hardening not only for cavity and core but also for sliding surface in the mold components. Gas Nitriding is difficult to apply on stainless steel, as explained, because its surface is made of stable oxidized steel. But ionized Nitriding to apply glow discharge under low-pressure gas can make stainless steel nitride. 2-2-2-2 Ion Plating Ion plating is a kind of physical vapor deposition (PVD). This is a surface treatment method to ionize vaporized coating elements such as carbide and nitride and to deposit them on the surface of an object with negative voltage (Fig. 2-2-2-2.1). PVD includes vacuum vapor deposition and spattering. But they are usually not applicable for surface hardening. Characteristics of ion plating are as follows: Deformation is extremely small because temperature under treatment is only 300 ~ 500C. Be minded tempering should be conducted at the higher temperature. Film thickness 1 ~ 4 m is given evenly. Super hard coating HV 2000 ~ 3000 can be attained by applying Tin and TiCN. No influence to surface roughness. Applicable to all kinds of steel. Work environment is favorable because all activities are carried out in the vacuum chamber. Generally adhesive strength is not as high as CVD. The adhesive strength is much affected by surface condition and treatment temperature. Coating on the surface such as internal surface of small hole, on which deposit is unlikely made, is rather difficult.

In view of above characteristics, this method is applicable to cavity with flat shape and smooth surface, core and core insert with simple shape. But you need to check carefully items , and .

- 18 -

Emilian Popa

Injection Molding Design Guide Manual 2012

Referring to , ion plating is applicable to aluminum alloy and copper ally as well. But adhesive strength is not so high because hardness of such material is not hard enough. Thus it is recommended to limit this application to steel having hardness more than 50 HRC. Ion plating can be combined with gas Nitriding for better surface hardening. In this case white layer should be removed by shot pining in order to assure adhesive strength in ion plating. The surface condition before ion plating processing should be metallurgically active. This can be said to the surface when electro discharge machining is conducted. Ion bombardment processing is a popular method in this respect by bombarding ionized argon gas on the object surface before ion plating is processed.

2-2-2-3 Other surface treatments Traditionally hard chrome plating and electro less nickel plating have been widely applied. Treatment temperature for hard chrome plating is as low as 45 ~ 65. Hard chrome plating is of low cost but with good abrasion resistance, mold separation and corrosion resistance. It has been widely applied to mold, which is not complex in shape, or IC mold. Comparing with PVD, plated film is thick, 0.01 ~ 0.03 mm, and in addition there will be a build up at edges or corners. Thus you need to evaluate the usage carefully before application. Table 2.2.2.3.1 illustrates characteristics of hard chrome plating and electro less nickel-plating for your reference. Surface treatment by spattering, which is a dry type instead of a wet type in hard chrome plating, is highlighted in these days. This has better adhesion and even film thickness, but cannot be applied to small area such as internal surface of fine hole. With regard to coated film, CVD, the same dry type as spattering, is far better in adhesive strength, but its weakness lies in deformation to precision parts due to high temperature treatment. In this respect it should be worth attention that CVD in low temperature treatment or plasma CVD is under development. Such new technology should provide you with a new insight for a superior surface treatment.

- 19 -

Emilian Popa

Injection Molding Design Guide Manual 2012

- 20 -