Plastool – Swiss precision in Mordialloc (VIC)

Plastool specializes in producing high precision components, tooling, and 3D CNC machining solutions.

Written by Kerryn Caulfield, Executive Director, Composites Australia Inc.

From its 1,600sqm facility in Mordialloc, situated in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs, Plastool specializes in producing high precision components, tooling, and 3D CNC machining solutions. These cater to Australian industrial manufacturers ranging from food packaging to aerospace and defence. The company also offers unique machining for materials such as carbon fibre, aluminium, stainless steel, and graphite.

“We’ve invested in state-of-the-art industrial capabilities optimised to serve the progressive automation of Australian manufacturers – we make things that make things. For composites, we design, engineer, hone, and service RTM, compression, and reaction injection moulds. We also produce blow and rubber moulds, thermoforming, and polyurethane tools and manufacture prototypes,” says Gary Down. Plastool partnered with Carbon Revolution early in its journey, developing pivotal tooling for patented composite production technologies in 2011. Ashley Denmead, CTO of Carbon Revolution, regards Plastool’s competency as ‘Swiss precision in Mordialloc’, Carbon Revolution entrusted Plastool to aid in the development of its original low pressure tooling, and this partnership continued with the development of the RTM moulds for the recent Mega-line. These moulds facilitate a High Pressure-RTM Injection moulding process, allowing a moulding cycle time of 30 minutes each.

Laser welding at Plastool - high precision and close control of applied energy
Precision tool-making - Swiss precision in Mordialloc.

“The moulds consist of various tool steels; each engineered and designed for its particular function and to endure frequent use. A significant portion of the work takes place on our Makino V80S machines; these are a five-axis continuous processing platform tailored for large die/mould part machining, especially intricate, multifaceted, 3-D contours. This equipment helped create the 3D organic style flowing surface of the mould with accuracy within +/- 20 microns,” says Kieron Donoghue, Operations Manager at Plastool.

Carbon Revolution manufactures wheels for the world’s best OEM automotive brands such as Ferrari and the Ford, General Motors and Jaguar LandRover. Larger volume designs such as those for GM’s Corvette, the Ford mustang Shelby GT500 and the Range Rover Sport are produced on the highly automated Mega line. “Each brand has its own signature wheels crafted, engineered, and produced uniquely for them. It’s not a uniform approach. Each requires a specific set of RTM tools, reflecting years of research and development that we have translated into tooling,” states Kieron.

Plastool’s recent proficiency and project management methods evolved from supplying thin wall injection moulding tools. This high-speed variation of traditional injection moulding focuses on lightweight plastic parts, streamlining material use and quickening cycle times. Predominantly seen in food and non-food sectors, thin-walled packaging includes containers and lids for a range of products from fresh food to cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Industries today prioritize sustainability and reduced plastic consumption, driving the demand for lighter containers with thinner walls.

Plastool’s climate controlled area featuring the Makino V80S milling machines.

Producing these thin walls demands exactness in tooling and dies. Wall thickness is determined by comparing the part’s size to its wall thickness. As walls become slender, their injection moulding becomes intricate. Kieron states, “The more disposable the product, the superior the tool’s quality needs to be. Achieving this part quality and rapid cycle times requires an efficient cooling system, consistent injection speeds and pressures, preserving the quality and integrity of the end product. We manufacture tooling to create products with a wall thickness under 0.5mm, this all helps to reduce plastic waste”

Plastool’s climate controlled area featuring the Makino V80S milling machines.
Laserwelding - a delicate technique is used for repairing tools, dies and bearing shafts. From left, Kieron Donoghue, Gary Down and Kerryn Caulfield.