Mould Tooling Costs Help?

I’m working on a project for a client and it’s my first injection moulding project, it’s a cattle reader similar to:

Client is on a tight budget as it’s the first product. I wondered if anyone had any clues as to what we might be looking at in terms of tooling costs for one cavity and also for two, if the upper and lower parts are to be different? I can appreciate it’s a difficult one to answer. The design might lend itself quite well to a symmetrical, modular casing, reducing the need for two cavities, but design for this would require quite some consideration…

Initial production run is only for 300 units, so would an aluminium tool reduce costs? What about CNC machining parts from solid? May not be so cost prohibitive for low volumes?

Any advice would be greatly received!


$8,000US-$80,000US. Your post lacks details to get any closer. What plastic are you using? Where is production? Do the parts have undercuts? Order quantity will only matter when you reach 100,000+ parts per year.

BTW: You can always try Protomold. They quote within 48 hours for aluminum molds, although there are restrictions on size and other features. I’ve found them to be competitive to cold calling suppliers for quotes.

You need to talk to a tooling supplier, for 300 pieces for something that large you would probably go with a short run aluminum tool, and if feasible use rapid prototyped parts where possible.

Given the shape and size, it’s possible that using a thermoformed part for some of it may be good enough. CNCing a plastic part that big is no good, CNC’ed plastic is inherently brittle and great for models or certain types of parts, but for something handheld that probably has to withstand getting thrown in the back of a tractor or pickup that’s no good.

How many parts are there? What size are the parts?

From your image I see at least 8 parts, each requiring there own mold. If designed properly, and since you are asking here, I’m guessing you can’t design them properly, a few of them could be straight-pull molds from Protomold. Figure $3-$5K each for those. Some of the larger parts could probably fit on a mud tool but probably not 2-up. A manual mud tool will run you $12-$25K each depending if you have slides, two-shot or any other features.

I know some folks are big on it but I don’t see much price difference between aluminum and steel with a mud tool.

If you get into production numbers over 10,000, multiply my estimates by 10.

Thanks for the advice, I’ll contact Protomould once I’ve got a bit more internal detail done for one of the parts.

The URL example I gave was just for info, my design is a lot simpler, we are competing on price, these things cost over $1000. Length of the parts is about 300mm, no undercuts, I am proficient with designing thanks iab! I’m just trying to suss out single vs double cavity mould costs, as this will inform the actual design of the two main product parts and whether I go ahead with trying to make the product using two of the same part, or two different parts if that makes sense?


The more cavities in your mold, the more cost you’ll undertake. Bigger molds require bigger presses which limits the availability. For 300 parts (plus whatever your pre-production quantities are) you’re not taking up enough tool time to warrant getting multiple parts off at once.

Either way, sharing your designs directly with a tooling vendor will allow them to provide detailed feedback on your designed, tooling suggestions, and estimated costs.