Textures and Finishes on Aluminium Tooling
RP Technologies are the UK’s leading manufacturer of aluminium injection mould tooling along with prototype and production plastic injection moulded components. Through precision engineering combined with a wealth of experience we manufacture tooling for a whole range of industries for either prototype and development or low volume production from our UK based manufacturing facility in the West Midlands.
There is a huge range of surface textures and finishes that we can offer on our aluminium tooling, and each customer project has its own specific requirements which we work towards. The texture or finish is applied to the mould tool, which gives the injection moulded components the desired effect. Below are some of the reasons that customers choose to have texturing on their tooling and components:
Why do parts get textured?
- Aesthetics – aside from looking nice, textures can grab attention, show the appearance of depth and improve the perceived value of a product. Textures are also used to make the plastic look like something else, for example the marine industry specify wood grain whereas the automotive industry favour a leather grain.
- To add grip – Textured parts are easier to hold which improves usability and increases safety in certain applications.
- To disguise blemishes such as minor sink marks, weld lines and flow marks.
- Soft materials such as TPE and TPU are easier to remove from the mould with a light matte finish.
- Dull textures help to eliminate light reflection.
- Certain textures can hide fingerprints smudges on high-use products.
- Better adhesion when applying paint or stickers, if the surface has a slight texture then the paint or stickers will bond more successfully to the component than a glossy finish.
In-house at RP we can offer a variety of finishes to include bead blasts, high polish, commercial polishes, and a range of VDI finishes. However, if a customer requires a complex surface texture or finish we work closely with our trusted supplier, Gravutex Eschmann.
Gravutex Eschmann specialise in-surface design engineering for the plastic moulding industry. They offer texture design, conventional chemical etching, laser technology, surface coatings, ceramic applications, and a 24/7 repair service.
RP have worked with Gravutex Eschmann for many years ensuring our customers’ requirements for surface design on aluminium tooling are met. Whether we are looking for a complicated texture or super fine laser structure to enhance a product aesthetic the team at Gravutex Eschmann can assist quickly and cost effectively. Gravutex Eschmann apply the grain or texture to the injection mould tool once it is complete and our customer has approved first off samples. Depending on your required texture, we may need larger draft angles on the tooling to ensure that your part releases easily without dragging or scuffing the component. RP will advise and discuss this during our DFM stage when designing the tool.
When RP originally started their partnership with Gravutex Eschmann there was a lot of work that went on behind the scenes before they started offering texturing to customers. RP questioned the use of texturing and how successful it could be on aluminium tooling. RP and Gravutex Eschmann spent months developing a custom process to ensure the results of the texturing offered equally good quality on our aluminium tooling, as it does on standard steel tooling. Paul Roe, General Manager at RP commented “with Gravutex Eschmann’s specialist experience in this industry we knew they were the right company to partner with. Their expertise has helped to streamline our process ensuring we meet our customers tight deadlines and specific requirements. The support and customer service Gravutex offer is second to none and really compliments RP’s offering.”
Steve Aaron, GM at Gravutex Eschmann says “We’ve developed a really strong relationship with the team at RP – understanding their need for speed whilst maintaining the fundamentals of high quality and good customer service which both companies strive to deliver”.
“Working with aluminium tooling presents some unique challenges for us” says Steve. “Compared to standard tool steels, our acids behave differently when etching aluminium and we’ve spend a lot of time refining our processes to ensure that the customer gets a perfect etch in aluminium”.
Gravutex Eschmann are best known for their work in the automotive sector with customers including Jaguar Land Rover, BMW and Mini. They are also highly experience with specialist laser grains and have an array of experience with graining tools for a range of domestic markets, often with grains designed to mimic EDM or ‘stipple’ textures.
When highly specialist laser grains are requested, Gravutex Eschmann offer the innovative LaserTec process. This process offers unimaginable possibilities to improve the quality and appearance of decorative surfaces. Not only does this process provide aesthetic features but it can be used to implement technical functional structures such as light reflection, friction, and aerodynamics.
During the concept stage, 3D design visualisation takes place to develop custom decorative patterns. Once approved by the customer, these patterns are lasered directly on to the mould tool using a high precision five-axis ablation with Ytterbium fibre lasers. The process is fully digital which makes it highly repeatable with extremely high quality. It offers almost unlimited freedom of design and is suitable for both steel and aluminium tooling and is the perfect offering for technical applications including ribs, honeycomb structures and fine lettering.
A project that Gravutex Eschmann recently helped RP with is an injection mould tool that we manufactured for ourselves to produce promotional components. RP wanted a product that we can give to customers so that they can see first-hand what the textures look like on plastic moulded components. The image below shows the comparison between the texturing on the tool, and how it looks on the moulded components, the textures shown are a leather and a carbon fibre grain.
RP’s close relationship with Gravutex Eschmann means we can offer a huge range of tool texturing and surface finishes quickly and cost effectively to suit our customers specific requirements. Why not call RP today on 0121 550 5868 to discuss your projects that require surface finishes? If you require additional information on the processes at Gravutex Eschmann please contact Steve Aaron on 01457 867 627 or visit https://www.eschmanntextures.de/en/.
If you would like to receive one of RP Technologies promotional components, please email email@example.com with your postal address and we’ll send one to you.