Tools and Moulds

Tools, moulds and dies are essential components for various industrial sectors, such as automotive, aerospace, medical, consumer goods, and energy. They are used to shape, form, cut and stamp materials into desired products or parts. The quality and performance of these components depend largely on the properties and characteristics of the steels that are used to make them. The Tool and Mould market is an important application area for Additive Manufacturing and Steel Powders. For example, an additively manufactured mould with conformal cooling channels can reduce the cooling blind spot, allow faster and better heat dissipation and significantly improve the process efficiency and product finish. The yield rate of finished products, maintenance time, or tool duration are dramatically improved. 

Selecting the right steel for the right application is a critical factor for the success and competitiveness of the manufacturers.

ArcelorMittal is a global leader in the production of steels for moulds and dies, serving the die-casting and injection moulding industries with high-quality and innovative solutions. ArcelorMittal has developed a strong legacy of providing steels that meet the most demanding requirements of these industries, such as resistance to wear, heat, corrosion and cracking, as well as excellent machinability, polishability and weldability. Whether it is for plastic, metal or composite moulding, forging or extrusion, ArcelorMittal has the right steel grade and format for every application through its specialized division Industeel:

  • Worldwide solution steels for mould construction, such as pre-hardened alloy steels, stainless steels for cavities, extrusion dies and mould bases, hot work steels for plastic, forging and die casting applications, as well as cold work steel for press tools, progressive dies, stamping dies and cutting tools.
  • Proprietary brands of steel that offer tailor-made solutions with improvement from generic grades in terms of machining, tool life time, repairability, thermal conductivity, through-hardness and improved mechanical properties. Brands like Superplast® family steel, Mecasteel®, Isotrop®, Tenasteel® are well known all over the world for such demanding applications.

With ArcelorMittal Powders, ArcelorMittal now has a complimentary portfolio of sustainable steel solutions for Tools and Moulds with Additive Manufacturing.

With our Global Research and Development, in collaboration with customers, universities and research centers, we can work on combining our solutions to leverage the best of each and deliver more performance, reliability and sustainability to our customers with our steels for moulds and dies.

ArcelorMittal Powders has a complementary portfolio of sustainable steel solutions for Tools and Moulds with Additive Manufacturing.

Moulds for Plastic Injection

Plastic injection moulding is a widely used process for producing plastic parts and products, such as containers, toys, automotive components, medical devices and electronics. It involves injecting molten plastic into a mould cavity, where it cools and solidifies into the shape of the mould. The mould is then opened and the part is ejected.

The mould is a complex and expensive component that requires high precision, durability and resistance to wear, corrosion and thermal fatigue. The steel that is used to make the mould must have high hardness, toughness, polishability and machinability. 

The promise of Additive Manufacturing

Additive Manufacturing offers a promising opportunity for the production of tools, moulds and dies, as it can overcome some of the limitations and challenges of the conventional methods, such as long lead times, high costs, material wastage and design constraints. By using Additive Manufacturing, it is possible to create tools, moulds and dies that have improved performance, quality and efficiency, such as conformally cooled channels, reduced weight and enhanced durability.

Conformally cooled channels are internal passages that follow the shape of the mould cavity, allowing a more uniform and efficient cooling of the plastic part. This can result in reduced cycle time, improved dimensional accuracy, lower warpage and better surface finish. Conformally cooled channels can be designed using new methodologies, such as topology optimization and computational fluid dynamics, and printed using Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) machines, which can melt and fuse metal powders layer by layer using a laser beam.

ArcelorMittal is a leading company in the field of Additive Manufacturing, with a strong expertise and know-how on laser strategies, materials and processes. ArcelorMittal can provide high-quality steels for Additive Manufacturing, such as maraging steels, stainless steels and tool steels, as well as customized solutions and services for the production of tools, moulds and dies using Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) machines.

Depending on the application and the type of tool, mould or die, different properties and characteristics of the steels are required, such as hardness, corrosion resistance, thermal conductivity, weldability, machinability, texture and polishability. These properties and characteristics can be influenced by the chemical composition, the heat treatment and the Additive Manufacturing process of the steels. 

Tools and Moulds: the essential keywords

The resistance of the steel to deformation, indentation and wear. Hardness is important for tools, moulds and dies that are subjected to high pressures, temperatures and abrasion, such as cutting tools, stamping dies and forging dies. Hardness can be measured by various methods, such as Rockwell, Vickers or Brinell scales. Generally, the higher the carbon content and the alloying elements, such as chromium, molybdenum and vanadium, the higher the hardness of the steel.

The ability of the steel to resist the deterioration and degradation caused by the exposure to corrosive environments, such as moisture, acids, salts and gases. Corrosion resistance is important for tools, moulds and dies that are used in applications that involve fluids, chemicals or high humidity, such as injection moulding, extrusion and medical devices. Corrosion resistance can be improved by adding elements, such as chromium, nickel and manganese, or by applying coatings, such as nitriding, chrome plating or anodizing.

The rate at which the steel can transfer heat through its mass. Thermal conductivity is important for tools, moulds and dies that are exposed to high temperatures or thermal cycles, such as hot working, welding and casting. Thermal conductivity can affect the cooling rate, the dimensional stability, the distortion and the cracking of the steel. Thermal conductivity can be increased by adding elements, such as copper, silicon and aluminum, or by reducing the porosity and the grain size of the steel.

The ease and quality with which the steel can be joined with other metals by using heat and pressure. Weldability is important for tools, moulds and dies that need to be repaired, modified or assembled, such as large moulds, die blocks and multi-piece tools. Weldability can be affected by the carbon content, the alloying elements, the heat treatment and the preheating and postheating conditions of the steel. Generally, the lower the carbon content and the alloying elements, the higher the weldability of the steel.

The ease and quality with which the steel can be cut, drilled, milled, turned or ground by using machines and tools. Machinability is important for tools, moulds and dies that need to be shaped, finished or refined, such as milling cutters, drill bits and grinding wheels. Machinability can be influenced by the hardness, the toughness, the microstructure and the surface condition of the steel. Generally, the higher the hardness and the alloying elements, the lower the machinability of the steel.

The appearance and smoothness of the surface of the steel. Texture and polishability are important for tools, moulds and dies that need to have a high aesthetic or functional quality, such as mirror moulds, optical lenses and jewelry. Texture and polishability can be enhanced by reducing the roughness, the porosity, the defects and the inclusions of the steel, or by applying treatments, such as polishing, buffing or etching.

Wondering which Steel or Steel Powder to select?

We are eager to discuss your needs and continue our journey to support the Tooling and Moulding industry with smarter steel powders.