In order to effectively explain MUD (Master Unit Die) base tooling, I must first explain tooling options on either end of the cost spectrum so you can better understand MUD base tooling’s place in the middle.
Prototype Hand Tooling
Prototype hand tooling is by far the most cost-effective means of injection molding a part. This option often comes in to play when the client is looking for a production quality prototype and/or the part could not be 3D printed in a material that provides the functionality needed for real world testing. While the initial tooling investment is rather low when opting for hand tooling, the per unit cost of each part is rather high. The reason for this is hand tooling options simplify the mold so much, the production of the part requires an operator to “hand” load the mold into the injection press and demold the part when the injection process is complete.
This is in contrast to a traditional production mold that operates on automatic and requires very little operator interaction to shoot good parts. Prototype hand tooling is the absolute best option when you are looking for the lowest up-front investment to receive production quality parts for testing and customer discovery before proceeding withproduction tooling.
Production tooling is a dedicated mold with the maximum number of cavities to optimize the client’s piece part cost and cycle time/unit in the press. Production tooling often comes into play when the client has validated the market and is ready to go full speed to meet market demand. Production tooling could have as many as 32 cavities of the same part in the mold in effort to maximize the number of units completed within a given cycle time. Production tooling is absolutely necessary as volumes scale and market demand increases.
MUD Base Tooling
MUD base tooling sits right in the middle of the tooling cost spectrum and is often viewed as a hybrid of the two above options. MUD Base tooling reduces your up-front tooling investment while maintaining a production per unit cost (unlike the per unit cost increase seen when utilizing prototype hand tooling).
MUD base tooling is a case where the manufacture (such as BeraTek) owns a base mold that contains the bulk of the equipment necessary for full automation. For the sake of conversation, let’s assume BeraTek owns a 12”x20” MUD Base. As opposed to cutting you a large dedicated mold, MUD Base tooling allows you to cut a smaller 12”x20” insert that slides nicely into our base and offers a fully automated production environment. Your tooling cost is reduced because machine time is significantly lower since the manufacturer’s time is only spent cutting the cavity detail for your product. All the automation features are housed in BeraTek’s base so the excess cost in a traditional production tool is eliminated.
Upsides of MUD Base tooling:
- Reduction in up-front tooling investment
- Maintains a production level per unit cost
- Quicker tool changeovers reducing associated setup fees
Downsides of MUD Base tooling:
- You are limited by the footprint of the MUD base which can reduce the number of cavities that can be nested in the insert. Once volumes scale into the hundreds of thousands you will inevitably need to consider a dedicated production mold.
To learn more about MUD based tooling, prototype tool or production tooling, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.