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Injection molding is the most common method of plastic part manufacturing. When looking at potential applications for plastic molds, the possibilities are virtually endless. Injection molding is used to create a diverse collection of products, from something as small as a bottle cap to something as large and important as automotive dashboards; if it’s a plastic product, there’s a high possibility that it came from a plastic mold. 

But why, exactly, is injection molding so common? In addition to being compatible with most polymers — that is, all thermoplastics, some thermosets, and some elastomers — the process is ideal for producing high volumes of the same part. It is also appreciated for creating repeatable high tolerances, low labor costs, and minimal scrap parts. Here, we will be discussing the differences between Dura Slick, a nickel-based mold release, and chrome, as well as an alternative nickel plating known as Lubricoat. Find the correct plating for your plastic molds today.

Chrome vs. Nickel Mold Release Plating for Applications

When we look at chrome plating, we look at its specifications and strengths. Hard Chrome can be applied as little as .00003 to several thousandths depending on the complexity and tolerances allowed. Chrome contains a hardness of 72 Rockwell C (RC) and is typically applied at 130 degrees Fahrenheit. 

There are plenty of reasons to plate with chrome, including the potential to utilize any SPI finish on your tooling. But there are also some drawbacks. Hard chrome plating is only accessible by a conforming anode, which requires time, The more detailed your mold is, the more time this construction can take, and the more expensive your project can become. This lends to chrome not always plating uniformly in detailed areas.

Dura Slick, a nickel-base mold release, is excellent for the release of plastics from mold components as well as wear applications. In most cases .00005-.0005 is specified however deposits up to .010+ can be achieved on molding surfaces for engineering changes, Dura Slick has a hardness of 56 RC and is an excellent resistance to corrosion. Dura Slick specifically is one of the slickest mold coatings on the market, offering a coefficient of friction of about 0.05 and making it ideal for injection molds and inserts. Dura Slick always coats evenly no matter the configuration of the mold and can last in a press for years.

Plating for Plastic Molds with Electroless Nickel Plating w/ Teflon  

Despite having similar bases, there are some major differences between electroless nickel plating and electroless nickel plating with Teflon (or PTFE). We can start by comparing their hardness; PTFE/ nickel has a hardness of 45 RC, while electroless nickel plating comes in at 50 RC. However, PTFE has a higher lubricity. Its coefficient of friction is 0.10 or less, while the more corrosion-resistant electroless nickel plating typically has a coefficient of friction around 0.18 or less. 

Electroless nickel plating with Teflon also has many benefits, such as a non-wetting surface that lends to its self-cleaning properties. PTFE is temperature resistant with an impressive tolerance for extreme temperatures as well as high electric strength and high surface resistivity, providing it with many electrical applications. Perhaps most prominently, PTFE is known for nonstick and release properties, making it very popular within the cooking industry. While both plating methods have applications within the automotive, aerospace, and chemical industries, PTFE is also prominent in nonstick packaging, heat sealing, molding, and pharmaceuticals.

Mold Release Applications of Lubricoat

Due to its high lubricity and corrosion resistance, PTFE has a wide range of applications, from enlarging threaded cores and inserts to sizing cavities. In the past, PTFE has been used for ejector-base housings, pin plates, pillar supports, and dimensional build-ups under flash chrome, but it is also capable of coating whole molded bases.

For PTFE, we offer Lubricoat, one of the best electroless nickel platings with Teflon available on the market. Boasting a breakdown temperature of 650 degrees Fahrenheit and a penchant for releasing plastic from mold components, Lubricoat is favored within the molding industry and could benefit your project today.

U.S. Leader in Mold Release Coating for Plastic Mold Applications 

Progress for Industry, Inc. is not only a U.S. leader in nickel plating(DuraSlick), but also in electroless nickel plating with Teflon(Lubricoat). Dura Slick and Lubricoat are two of the finest and most innovative mold release coating options available. They’re just a pair of the superior plating solutions PFI has been offering for over 30 years.