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A lot of metal industry terms to sort through in metal manufacturing. Explore our metal glossary for quick definitions of frequently used metal manufacturing terms and acronyms. A comprehensive list of hardware industry terminology, hardware English vocabulary, hardware professional terms and explanations, detailed explanations of commonly used professional terms in the hardware industry.  

When it comes to metal machinery and fabrication, there is no shortage of technical terms, and each is as important as the next. Hence, it’s essential for any professional in the metal manufacture industry to know what certain key terms and phrases mean. We’ve compiled a glossary of the most important techniques, terms and tools you will come across in any metal fabrication workshop.

Introducing some industry terms of the hardware processing industry:



A standard computer file format for exchanging CAD data, typically from AutoCAD programs. ACIS is an acronym that originally stood for “Andy, Charles and Ian's System.”


A roughening or scratching of a surface due to abrasive wear. On aluminum parts, also known as a rub mark or traffic mark.


A family of steel products developed for those applications involved in sliding and/or impact abrasion.


The removal of material from a surface when hard particles slide or roll across the surface under pressure. The particles may be loose or may be part of another surface in contact with the surface being worn. Contrast with adhesive wear.

Additive manufacturing, 3D printing:

Commonly used interchangably, additive manufacturing (3D printing) involves a CAD model or scan of an object that is reproduced, layer by layer, as a physical three-dimensional object. Stereolithography, selective laser sintering, fused deposition modeling and direct metal laser sintering are some of the commonly employed additive processes.


Sometimes called the “cavity,” it is the half of the mold that usually creates the exterior of a cosmetic part. The A-side usually does not have moving parts built into it.


A material that has metallic properties and is composed of two or more chemical elements of which at least one is a metal (i.e. steel is an alloy of carbon in iron; stainless steel is an alloy of carbon, chromium and sometimes nickel in iron.)

Alloy Steel:

An iron-based mixture is considered to be an alloy steel when manganese is greater than 1.65%, silicon over 0.5%, copper above 0.6%, or other minimum quantities of alloying elements such as chromium, nickel, molybdenum, or tungsten are present. An enormous variety of distinct properties can be created for the steel by substituting these elements in the recipe.


A process involving heating to a temperature at or above critical and cooling at a controlled rate, usually applied to induce softening. The process could alter mechanical properties, physical properties or micro structure.


(Aluminum Adic Oxide Coating) A process of coating aluminum by anodic treatment resulting in a thin film of aluminum oxide of extreme hardness. A wide variety of dye-colored coatings are possible by impregnation in process.

Axial hole:

This is a hole that is parallel to the axis of revolution of a turned part, but does not need to be concentric to it.

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A component of the injection-molding machine wherein the resin pellets are melted, compressed and injected into the mold’s runner system.

Bead Blasting:

Average thickness between heat spreading device and components.

Boron Nitride (BN):

Using abrasives in a pressurized air blast to create a surface texture on the part.


Also known as a “chamfer,” it is a flat truncated corner.


A cosmetic imperfection that is created where the resin is injected into the part, usually visible as a blotchy discoloration on the finished part at the site of the gate.


A raised stud feature that is used to engage fasteners or support features of other parts passing through them.

Bridge tool:

A temporary or interim mold made for the purpose of making production parts until a high-volume production mold is ready.


Sometimes called the “core,” it is the half of the mold where ejectors, side-action cams and other complex components are located. On a cosmetic part, the B-side usually creates the inside of the part.

Build platform:

The support base on an additive machine where parts are built. The maximum build size of a part is dependent on the size of a machine’s build platform. Many times a build platform will house a number of different parts of varying geometries.


A feature in the mold with an undercut. To eject the part, it must bend or stretch around the undercut.

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Computer-aided design.


A portion of the mold that is pushed into place as the mold closes, using a cam-actuated slide. Typically, side actions are used to resolve an undercut, or sometimes to allow an undrafted outside wall. As the mold opens, the side action pulls away from the part, allowing the part to be ejected. Also called a “side-action.”


The void between the A-side and B-side that is filled to create the injection-molded part. The A-side of the mold is also sometimes called the cavity.


Also known as a “bevel,” it is a flat truncated corner.

Clamp force:

The force required to hold the mold shut so resin cannot escape during injection. Measured in tons, as in “we have a 700 ton press.”

Contoured pins:

Ejector pins with the ends shaped to match a sloping surface on the part.


A portion of the mold that goes inside a cavity to form the interior of a hollow part. Cores are normally found on the B-side of a mold, thus, the B-side is sometimes called the core.

Core pin:

A fixed element in the mold that creates a void in the part. It is often easier to machine a core pin as a separate element and add it to the A-side or B-side as needed. Steel core pins are sometimes used in aluminum molds to create tall, thin cores that might be too fragile if machined out of the bulk aluminum of the mold.


A term used to describe a mold created by mating A-side and B-side mold halves.

Cycle time:

The time it takes to make one part including the closing of the mold, the injection of the resin, the solidification of the part, the opening of the mold and the ejection of the part.

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Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS):

DMLS employs a fiber laser system that draws onto a surface of atomized metal powder, welding the powder into a solid. After each layer, a blade adds a fresh layer of powder and repeats the process until a final metal part is formed.

Direction of pull:

The direction the mold surfaces move when they are moving away from the part surfaces, either when the mold opens or when the part ejects.


A measure of a material's hardness. It is measured on a numeric scale ranging from lower (softer) to higher (harder).


A taper applied to the faces of the part that prevent them from being parallel to the motion of the mold opening. This keeps the part from being damaged due to the scraping as the part is ejected out of the mold.

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Edge gate:

An opening aligned with the parting line of the mold where resin flows into the cavity. Edge gates are typically placed on an outside edge of the part.


Electric discharge machining. A moldmaking method which can create taller, thinner ribs than milling, text on top of ribs and square outside edges on parts.


The final stage of the injection-molding process where the completed part is pushed from the mold using pins or other mechanisms.

Ejector pins:

Pins installed in the B-side of the mold that push the part out of the mold when the part has cooled sufficiently.

Elongation at break:

How much the material can stretch or deform before breaking. This property of LSR allows for some difficult parts to be surprisingly removed from molds. For example, LR 3003/50 has an elongation at break of 480 percent.

End mill:

A cutting tool that is used to machine a mold.

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Family mold:

A mold where more than one cavity is cut into the mold to allow for multiple parts made of the same material to be formed in one cycle. Typically, each cavity forms a different part number. See also “multi-cavity mold.”


A curved face where a rib meets a wall, intended to improve the flow of material and eliminate mechanical stress concentrations on the finished part.


A specific type of surface treatment applied to some or all faces of the part. This treatment can range from a smooth, polished finish to a highly contoured pattern that can obscure surface imperfections and create a better looking or better feeling part.

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A triangular rib that reinforces areas such as a wall to a floor or a boss to a floor.



A specific type of surface treatment applied to some or all faces of the part. This treatment can range from a smooth, polished finish to a highly contoured pattern that can obscure surface imperfections and create a better looking or better feeling part.


Hard Tooling:

A die cutting tool manufactured from a machined metal block. The cost is high, therefore it is normally used when long runs are anticipated.


A measure of the ability of a material to withstand penetration by a hard pointed object. Regarding thermal interface materials, this property is usually inversely proportional to the ability of a material to conform to uneven surfaces.

Hardness Shore A (Shore C, Shore 00):

An instrument reading on a scale of 0 to 100 measuring the hardness of a material. There are four scales: Shore 00, C, A and D. Shore 00 is used for soft rubbers like gels, Shore C is used for soft rubbers like elastomer thermal pad, Shore A is used for hard rubbers and Shore D for inelastic plastics. AOK common used Shore C for our materials products hardness tests

Heat (Q):

A form of energy generated by the motion of atoms or molecules. Heat energy is expressed in units of joules.

Heat Capacity:

The measure of a materials ability to store heat.

Heat Flow:

The rate at which heat is flowing per unit time expressed as Watts.

Heat Flux (Q/A):

The rate of heat flow per unit surface area expressed as Watts / cm2.

Heat Transfer:

The movement of heat from one body to another (solid, liquid, gas, or a combination) by means of conduction, convection, or radiation.

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A boundary that exists between any two contacting surfaces. There are five types of interfaces that can exist between the different forms of matter: gas-liquid, liquid-liquid, gas-solid, liquid-solid, and solid-solid.

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Interfacial thermal resistance

Interfacial thermal resistance, also known as thermal boundary resistance, or Kapitza resistance, is a measure of an interface's resistance to thermal flow. This thermal resistance differs from contact resistance, as it exists even at atomically perfect interfaces. Due to the differences in electronic and vibrational properties in different materials, when an energy carrier (phonon or electron, depending on the material) attempts to traverse the interface, it will scatter at the interface. The probability of transmission after scattering will depend on the available energy states on side 1 and side 2 of the interface.

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The junction is the active part of a semiconductor, usually silicon, where the current flow causes heat to be generated.

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Live tooling:

Mill-like machining actions in a lathe where a rotating tool removes material from stock. This allows for the creation of features like flats, grooves, slots, and axial or radial holes to be created within the lathe.Micro-inch:

This unit of measure, a millionth of an inch, is used to describe the roughness of a surface and is the average distance between the peaks and valleys on the surface.

Living hinge:

Very thin section of plastic used to connect two parts and keep them together while allowing them to open and close. They require careful design and gate placement. A typical application would be the top and bottom of a box.

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Medical grade:

Metal that may be suitable for use in certain medical applications.

Meld lines:

Occurs when multiple gates are present. These are imperfections in the part where separated flows of cooling material meet and rejoin, often resulting in incomplete bonds and/or a visible line.

Metal safe:

A change to the part design that requires only the removal of metal from the mold to produce the desired geometry. Typically most important when a part design is changed after the mold has been manufactured, because then the mold can be modified rather than entirely re-machined. It is also commonly called “steel safe.”

Mold release spray:

A liquid applied to the mold as a spray to facilitate the ejection of parts from the B-side. It is typically used when the parts are difficult to eject because they are sticking to the mold.

Multi-cavity mold:

A mold where more than one cavity is cut into the mold to allow for multiple parts to be formed in one cycle. Typically, if a mold is called “multi-cavity,” the cavities are all the same part number. See also “family mold.”

Material utilisation:

This term describes the difference in weight between the raw materials that are used to produce a part, and the finished part. Essentially, a higher percentage of utilisation that is the outcome from this calculation indicates the economic efficiency of the stamping.


Those properties that reveal the reaction, either elastic or plastic, of a metal to an applied stress. Tensile strength, yield strength, elongation, reduction of area, hardness, impact strength, and bend ability are mechanical properties.


Plastic deformation or other physical change to which metal is subjected, by rolling, hammering, drawing., etc. to change its shape, properties or structure.


A process of annealing white cast iron in such a way that the combined carbon is wholly or partly transformed to graphitic or free carbon or, in some instances, part of the carbon is removed completely.


Quenching an austenitized ferrous alloy in a medium at a temperature in the upper part of the martensite range, or slightly above that range, and holding it in the medium until the temperature throughout the alloy is substantially uniform. The alloy is then allowed to cool in air through the martensite range.


A hard constituent in all steels which is a transformation product of austenite. In stainless steels it can be formed from austenite by high-temperature heat treatment (i.e. 410, 420, 440) or by cold-working (i.e. 301, 302, 304); method depends on chemistry balance.


(400 SERIES WHICH HAVE HIGH CARBON). These grades of stainless have chromium in the range of 11% to 17% as the sole major alloying addition. This is the same as the ferritic grades. However, carbon is added in amounts from 0.10 % to 0.65% to radically change the behavior of the martensitic alloys. The high carbon enables the material to be hardened by heat treatment.


Net shape:

The final desired shape of a part; or a shape that does not require additional shaping operations before use.


The tapered fitting on the end of the barrel of the injection-molding press where the resin enters the sprue.


On-axis hole:

This is a hole that is concentric to the axis of revolution of the turned part. It is simply a hole on the end of a part and in the center.



The practice of using increased pressure when injecting a part to force more plastic into the mold. This is often used to combat sink or fill problems, but also increases the likelihood of flash and may cause the part to stick in to the mold.


A file format for exchanging CAD data.

Parting line:

The edge of a part where the mold separates.


A mold insert that remains stuck to the ejected part and has to be pulled out of the part and placed back into the mold before the next cycle.


PolyJet is a 3D printing process where small droplets of liquid photopolymer are sprayed from multiple jets onto a build platform and cured in layers that form elastomeric parts.


Undesired voids included in a part. Porosity can manifest in many sizes and shapes from many causes. Generally, a porous part will be less strong than a fully dense part.


An Metal injection molding machine.

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Radial hole:

This is a hole formed by live tooling that is perpendicular to the axis of revolution of a turned part, and could be considered a side hole. The center line of these holes are not required to intersect the axis of revolution.


An edge or vertex that has been rounded. Typically, this occurs on part geometries as a natural result of the Protolabs' milling process. When a radius is intentionally added to an edge on a part, it is referred to as a fillet.


A hydraulic mechanism that pushes the screw forward in the barrel and forces mixing powder into the mold.


The level of printed detail achieved on parts built through additive manufacturing. Processes like stereolithography and direct metal laser sintering allow for extremely fine resolutions with the smallest of features.


A thin, wall-like feature parallel to the mold opening direction, common on plastic parts and used to add support to walls or bosses.

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Selective laser sintering (SLS):

During the SLS process, a CO2 laser draws onto a hot bed of thermoplastic powder, where it lightly sinters (fuses) the powder into a solid. After each layer, a roller lays a fresh layer of powder on top of the bed and the process repeats.

Short shot:

A part that wasn't completely filled with resin, causing short or missing features.


The first stage in the resin distribution system, where the resin enters the mold. The sprue is perpendicular to the parting faces of the mold and brings resin to the runners, which are typically in the parting surfaces of the mold.

Steel pins:

A cylindrical pin for formatting high-aspect-ratio, small-diameter holes in a part. A steel pin is strong enough to handle the stress of ejection and its surface is smooth enough to release cleanly from the part without draft.

Steel safe:

Also known as “metal safe” (the preferred term when working with aluminum molds). This refers to a change to the part design that requires only the removal of metal from the mold to produce the desired geometry. Typically most important when a part design is changed after the mold has been manufactured, because then the mold can be modified rather than entirely re-machined.


Stands for Standard for the Exchange of Product Model Data. It is a common format for exchanging CAD data.


A problem during the ejection phase of molding, where a part becomes lodged in one or the other half of the mold, making removal difficult. This is a common issue when the part is not designed with sufficient draft.

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Tear Strip:

A feature added to the mold that will be removed from the part after molding to aid in creating a crisp end on the part. This is often done in conjunction with an overflow to improve the final part quality.


A specific type of surface treatment applied to some or all faces of the part. This treatment can range from a smooth, polished finish to a highly contoured pattern that can obscure surface imperfections and create a better looking or better feeling part.

Tunnel gate:

A gate that is cut through the body of one side of the mold to create a gate that does not leave a mark on the exterior face of the part.


During the turning process, rod stock is rotated in a lathe machine while a tool is held against the stock to remove material and create a cylindrical part.



A portion of the part that shadows another portion of the part, creating an interlock between the part and one or both of the mold halves. An example is a hole perpendicular to the mold opening direction bored into the side of a part. An undercut prevents the part from being ejected, or the mold from opening, or both.

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A very small (0.001 in. to 0.005 in.) opening in the mold cavity, typically at the shutoff surface or via an ejector pin tunnel, that is used to let air escape from a mold while the resin is injected.

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A common term for the faces of a hollow part. Consistency in wall thickness is important.


The curving or bending of a part as it cools that results from stresses as different portions of the part cool and shrink at different rates. Parts made using filled resins may also warp due to the way the fillers align during resin flow. Fillers often shrink at different rates than the matrix resin, and aligned fibers can introduce anisotropic stresses.

Weld lines:

Also known as “stitch lines” or “knit lines,” and when multiple gates are present, “meld lines.” These are imperfections in the part where separated flows of cooling material meet and rejoin, often resulting in incomplete bonds and/or a visible line.


A type of CAD model consisting only of lines and curves, in 2D or 3D. Wirefame models are not suitable for rapid injection molding.

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