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Comparison between Rapid Tooling and Production Injection Mold

Comparison between Rapid Tooling and Production Injection Mold


From the application of injection molding tools, we can roughly separate them into rapid tooling, and production injection mold.

Rapid tooling is mainly for the early stage of product development, from prototype to medium volume production.

Production mold, is conventional injection mold, for medium to high volume production.

We organized an form for an easier comparison, from applications, lead time, design consideration and etc. Hope that it makes sense:



Rapid Tooling

Production Injection Mold


 Small runs of production;

Medium volume production;

Injection Molded Prototype;

Bridge Tooling;

Material Testing;

Risky Part Structure Testing;

Tooling & Molding feasibility forecasting.


Medium volume production;

High volume production;

Duplicate Mold.

Suitable Quantity

10s of;

100s of;

1000s of per month;

10s of 1000s of per year.

1000s of per month;

10,000s of per month;

100,000s of per month, per quarter;

Millions of per year.


Part       Design   Considerations

Injection Molding feasible,

Push the boundary at function,

Push the boundary at cosmetic,

More open at material choice,

Risky mechanical trial acceptable.


Injection molding efficiency,

Push the boundary at post manufacturing;

Push the boundary at cost efficiency,

Material fixed in normal,

Adjust mechanical structure, if testing need;


Mold Making

Lead Time

Mostly in 10-25 days;

Small proto mold can be just days;

Big molds not longer than 40-50 days;

A very important consideration.

Mostly in 25-50 days;

Simple tool can as fast as 20 days;

Big mold can last months;

Mold Quality, a more important consideration, comparing with lead   time.


Tool  Design Guide

Mold Making Speed;

Efficiency Tooling Cost;

Acceptable Molding Quality;

Life Tim Guaranteed;

Optimizing Molding Cycle Time,

Tooling Safe for steady production

Optimizing runner/part Ratio, for part material save.

Automatic Production.


Tooling Structure

Cold Runner Prefer,

Manual insert often used;

Shared mold base if available;

Integral cavity;

Integral Core.


Hot runner widely used

No manual inserts in normal;

Customized mold base;

Separated cavity insert at A plate;

Separated core insert at B plate;

Automatic de-gate.


Cavity Options

Mostly 1, or 2;

Very small parts maybe 4 or 8;

Family Mold preferred.

Mostly 8 or 16;

Small parts up to 32, 60 or even more;

As many as possible;

Multi-Cavity Mold preferred.


Insert Steel Options

Aluminum Al 7075;

Carbon steel C45, C50;

Semi harden Steel P20;

 High polishing steel NAK 80;


Semi-harden steel 718, 2083, 8407, H13 and etc;

Heat Treatment would be needed;

High polishing steel NAK 80, S136;


Cooling System

Mostly straight lines;

May no open cooling in small run of 10s;


Complicate Cooling Line,

Cooling Tower for high cover part,

Copper Insert if needed

May need metal 3D printing for excellent cooling in some Tool


Unit Price



>Much difference contricution ratio at   unit price.

Unit price of rapid tooling, is about   3x~10x, of production mold, which depends at different jobs. 


Cost Comparison




For rapid tooling, tooling price is a more consideration than unit   price;

For production mold, unit price is a more consideration that   tooling price.




Here it’s just a general comparison between rapid tooling and conventional injection molding production mold. Hopefully it would be helpful for product designers and mechanical designers when conducting product development.

Anyway, they are some exceptions as always. For example, bullets or bins, no matter by rapid tooling or production mold, both probably will be in 1 cavity. While for cap tools, proto mold will be in 1-cavity, while production tool normally will be with 32, 64 or even more cavities. There is no strict boundary between them.

Having a better idea, consulting with a reliable injection molding manufacturer, we can help you step by step at product development, in cost efficiency.   


If you were working on a tooling or injection molding project, try to contact Danke Mold for some manufacturing thoughts or cost ideas. Email us via info@dankemold.com. We will response in 12 hours.