Gaining an edge: Plating for longer mold life


With companies watching their capital expenditures, mold plating and coating are in greater demand as a way to lengthen the life of a mold, increase cycle times, and reduce maintenance costs.

Plating and coating of molds is done for a variety of reasons, but the primary ones are longer tool life and improved lubricity for faster cycle times. This is even more important given the current economic climate, says Harry Raimondi, technical services manager for Bales Mold Service Inc. (Downers Grove, IL).

Bales develops mold plating materials and performs the plating service. One of its most in-demand products is Nicklon, an electroless nickel and Teflon plating that improves part release, enhances resin flow, and resists corrosion. Bales also offers Nihard (cobalt alloy coating and plating) and NiBore (electroless nickel boron nitride).



Bales Mold Service offers a variety of plating/coatings such as this small core and cavity coated wth the company's Nicklon.



Dura Slick from Progress for Indutsry can be applied just 0.0002-inch thick on mold components to improve the mold's lubricity.



“Molders need to keep running parts, so they’re looking for anything that can keep that mold in the press until regular preventive maintenance comes around,” says Raimondi. “We use our expertise to help them determine which plating or coating is optimum for the tool. Customers are not always sure what they need when they have choices of finish, so there’s a lot of communication between us and the mold shop. Most OEMs want low-cost ways to make the tools last and this is a good option.”

Gene Bianco, GM of Progress for Industry Inc. (PFI; Saegertown, PA), which specializes in mold plating for industries such as medical components, electrical connectors, automotive, consumer products, and closures, says the company offers a proprietary nickel-based product called Dura Slick. It’s a dry lubricant coating that offers a low coefficient of friction, and is the most requested coating of all the company’s products, primarily because it contains no mold release. “Dura Slick is ideal for slides and inserts and helps in the release of plastic parts,” explains Bianco. “Plus, it prolongs tooling life, prevents wear, and reduces cycle time in many cases.”

Dura Slick also works well on all types of tool steels, as well as Mold Max copper alloy, beryllium, and aluminum, and provides corrosion protection. To be effective, the layer of Dura Slick doesn’t have to be thick. “We start plating at 0.00005 inch or less, and can build up to 0.005, and we can control our plating to the nearest 0.0001 inch,” says Bianco. “Often the tooling we’re working with is so precise that we have to keep the plating to within tenths so the parts remain conforming.”

While many molders are used to getting flash coating with hard chrome throughout the entire core/cavity, Bianco says PFI can mask off the part and just plate the molding area. “That way the thicker plating deposit won’t affect the tolerances of the part, and it allows us to build up thicker deposits on areas that require it,” he adds.

Bianco notes that about half

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