Moulds are built through two main methods: standard machining and EDM. Standard machining, in its conventional form, has historically been the method of building injection moulds. With technological developments, CNC machining became the predominant means of making more complex moulds with more accurate mould details in less time than traditional methods.
The electrical discharge machining (EDM) or spark erosion process has become widely used in mould making. As well as allowing the formation of shapes that are difficult to machine, the process allows pre-hardened moulds to be shaped so that no heat treatment is required. Changes to a hardened mould by conventional drilling and milling normally require annealing to soften the mould, followed by heat treatment to harden it again. EDM is a simple process in which a shaped electrode, usually made of copper or graphite, is very slowly lowered onto the mould surface (over a period of many hours), which is immersed in paraffin oil (kerosene). A voltage applied between tool and mould causes spark erosion of the mould surface in the inverse shape of the electrode.