Making Textured Molds with CNC Machining(tool lathe Armand)

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Computer numerical control (CNC) machining has revolutionized mold making and manufacturing processes by bringing speed, precision, and consistency to mold fabrication. One of the key benefits of CNC machining is the ability to easily create molds with complex geometries and detailed surface textures. This allows manufacturers to produce molded parts with intricate designs and finishes that would be difficult and expensive to achieve with traditional mold making methods.
In this article, we’ll explore how CNC machining can be used to create textured molds for products across various industries including consumer goods, automotive, aerospace, medical devices, and more.
Benefits of Textured Molds
Textured molds offer unique advantages over smooth molds for molded parts. The texture on the mold surface is imprinted directly onto the molded part during the molding process. Some benefits of textured molds include:
- Improved grip - Textures like lines, bumps and stippling create friction that improves grip and handling of molded parts. This is especially useful for consumer products.
- Soft touch feel - Satin, brushed and pebble textures give molded parts a luxurious, soft touch feel.
- Aesthetics - Textures provide visual interest and can mimic wood grain, leather, and other natural materials in finished products.
- Functional performance - Textures influence fluid flow, increase bonding surface area, and can improve durability.
- Brand differentiation - Unique mold textures allow manufacturers to differentiate their products.
Any texture that can be modeled in CAD software can be machined into a mold tool surface with CNC. Common textures used include:
- Stipple patterns - Closely spaced dots
- Lines/grooves - Parallel lines, crosshatch patterns, concentric circles
- Meshes - Diamond, square, hexagonal patterns
- Waves/ripples - Smooth undulating waves
- Pebble/orange peel - Bumpy irregular pattern
- Brush patterns - Parallel scratches as from a wire brush
- Prisms - Regular geometric patterns of grooves
- Sandblast - Irregular shallow pits
The size, spacing, and depth of the texture features depends on the mold material, product requirements, and capabilities of the CNC machine.
CNC Machining Textured Molds
Thanks to advanced CAM software, programming instructions for complex textured surfaces can be generated automatically for CNC. Here is an overview of the mold machining process:
- CAD Modeling - The desired texture pattern is modeled on the mold cavity surface in CAD. Common CAD texture tools include surfaces, emboss/engrave, and 3D sketches.
- CAM Programming - The CAD model goes into CAM software where toolpaths are programmed to follow the texture contours. 3D high speed machining strategies are ideal for mold texturing.
- CNC Milling - A ballnose end mill machines the textured cavity surface using the programmed toolpaths. Tight tolerances and fine surface finishes are achievable.
- Polishing - For glossy molded parts, textured mold surfaces are polished after machining, taking care to preserve the detailed texture geometry.
- Mold Assembly - The finished textured cavities are assembled into the final mold package. The mold is then installed on a plastic injection machine or other molding process.
- Molding - During molding, plastic takes the shape of the textured surface, creating detailed texture on the finished molded parts.
Common moldmaking plastics like P20 tool steel, aluminum, and copper alloys can all be effectively textured with CNC machining. Harder materials hold fine details better across multiple production cycles.
Advanced techniques like 5-axis CNC machining provide full access to complex freeform mold surfaces for unrestricted texturing options. Multi-axis machining centers combined with high speed/HSM toolpaths minimize machining time for deep textures.
In addition to molds, CNC texturing can also be applied to dies, patterns, prototypes, and directly onto end-use production parts. The ability to digitally model surface details for direct fabrication via CNC machining offers unprecedented control over part textures.
Application Examples of CNC Molded Textures
Here are some examples of injection molded products where textured CNC machined molds create enhanced design aesthetics, ergonomics, and functionality:
Consumer Goods:
- Kitchen tools - grippy handles, soft touch overmolds
- Beauty products - textured caps, applicators
- Electronics - slip-proof, durable housings
- Housewares - decorative textured patterns
- Sporting goods - tactile grips and surfaces
- Knobs and controls - leather/wood grain textures
- Interior trim - brushed finishes, anti-slip patterns
- Badges - company logo embossing
- Rubber mats - siping textures to channel water
Medical Industry:
- Hand tools - stipple grips for security
- Components - micro-textures to influence cell growth
- Assistive devices - tactile markers for the visually impaired

- Insulation - peaks and valleys improve acoustic performance
- Interiors - patterned surfaces for aesthetics and grip
- Antennas - micro surface structuring for signal transmission
With CNC machining, any texture the designer can imagine can be machined into a mold for replication onto plastic parts. The possibilities are endless! CNC texturing enables manufacturers to produce molded products with unique surface finishing, improved ergonomics, and enhanced functionality across many applications and industries. CNC Milling CNC Machining