About aluminium tooling plate – Cast, rolled and moulded
A fine granular structure sits at the heart of aluminium tooling plate, a popular metal that rolls out of our place in large quantities – pardon the pun! Here’s what you need to know about an aluminium product that has an exciting multitude of uses.
What is aluminium tooling plate?
Aluminium tooling plate has a fine, uniform grain structure. It’s known for its excellent thickness tolerance, the best of any aluminium plate product, plus top class stability. While it isn’t used for forming, this style of aluminium is perfect for precision applications and its welding, anodizing and corrosion resistance properties are all very good.
How is aluminium tooling plate made?
Aluminium tooling plate comes in the classic alloy types 5083, 6061-T651, 6082-T651 and 7075-T651. It can be either cast, rolled, or moulded.
Cast tooling plate is a continuous cast plate machined both sides to around 25 microinch, then thermally stress relieved. This version offers the highest thickness tolerance of any aluminium plate along with extremely good stability. It comes with great welding, anodizing and corrosion resistance.
Rolled tooling plate is usually made using a 5000 series alloy, rolled thin in the traditional way before being super annealed. Annealing is a heat treatment process designed to alter the metal’s physical properties, sometimes its chemistry. This improves the ductility and cuts down the hardness so the product is easier to work with. This also makes it more stable. The metal is then precision face machined to create good, close tolerance dimensions. The resulting plate is better for weldability and anodising, but it can also be less stable.
Moulded tooling plate is not as stable as cast tooling plate but when used in highly machined components it delivers a longer life. Because it isn’t porous it’s perfect for use in plastic injection moulds. Our most popular versions come in 100mm – 250mm thickness, but you can also get 400mm thicknesses as well as a 5000 series cast mould plate.
What is aluminium tooling plate used for?
This fine grained aluminium product offers excellent weldability and ductility, high strength, great machining performance, a high tensile strength, very good mechanical strength and great corrosion resistance. Heat treatment makes it stress free so there’s no need for annealing after machining. It comes with good non-decorative anodizing plus hard-coating properties. The dimensional stability is also a big deal, particularly after heavy machining. All this gives these alloys an advantage over standard aluminium plate alloys.
This type of tooling plate is used for a wide array of purposes, from working tables to computers, semi-conductors and electronics, pharmaceutical and medical applications, machining fixtures, jigs, plastic moulds, templates, robots, printing machines, food machinery, packaging machinery, the auto industry and even thermo forming.
What affects the price of aluminium tooling plate?
Like all products aluminium itself is prone to changes in economic supply and demand thanks to today’s globalised economy. Recessions, exchange rates, political change, trade embargoes, transport challenges, tariffs and new developments in mining tech all have an impact on the price of aluminium, therefore of aluminium products like tooling plate.
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