There are different types of aluminum plate on the market, but not all plate is the same. To make things more confusing, suppliers not specializing in aluminum may call general plate tooling or jig plate, which is not the same.
Tooling plate is always cast aluminum tooling plate. There is also a rolled plate, this is also known by different names based on the manufacturer, but it is rolled and not cast as the method of production. Both cast and rolled plate can be called precision plate, so it is important to know which option you are considering.
The benefit of casting or the production of aluminum tool plate is the degree of flatness that can be maintained across the plate. This is a critical aspect of the plate that makes it different from other types of aluminum plate.
When cast aluminum tooling plate is made, there is a high level of internal stability and a very low level of stress. This is an important distinction with this plate as it eliminates some of the warping or deformation of the plate that can occur when machined.
When there are high stress and lack of stability in the plate, there will be additional processes needed after the plate is machined. This can include additional re-working, milling or finishing which will add to the cost of production as well as extend the time to get jigs, parts or molds completed.
Working With the Plate
High quality cast aluminum tooling plate offers some important benefits to consider. It is highly corrosion resistant for inland uses and good for marine applications. As would be expected, this is a plate that can be easily polished and it is also an ideal option for hard anodizing to extend the surface durability.
Cast tool plate is very good for WIG/MIG and resistance welding and is also rated as excellent for machinability. These qualities are what makes cast tool plate the ideal choice for precision applications.