The Making of the Pip-Boy: Six Tons of Tooling

It takes many 100s of components to make a Pip-Boy, but only 39 of them are needed to make its physical structure and these are molded in the main factory responsible for manufacturing the iconic Pip-Boy. Some of these parts are molded in what are called ‘family tools’. A family tool is similar to a regular tool, except more than one part is made at the same time during each molding cycle, then the parts are neatly separated when they come out of the mold. 

For example, all the clear parts will be molded in the same tool, at the same time 


Thirty-five injection molded parts are split between nine injection molding tools. The die-cast front housing is made in a special die-cast tool, and the memory foam fabric cuff is made in a bank of 20 reaction injection cast molding tools. Other components, cables, the catch, and electronics etc., purchased from specialist suppliers.

The tools are very heavy, the photo below shows the cavity and core (right and left respectively) of the tool used to make cuff back housing. This tool set weighs 600kg (1,322 lbs) and when fixed to the massive injection molding machine is pressed together with a huge closing force of 200 tonnes (220 US tons), so that none of the plastic squirted into the mold, under high pressure, leaks out before it solidifies. All of this is needed to make a finished part that weighs only 65 g (2.3 oz).


Once the tool closes, it takes 40 seconds for the plastic to be injected in and solidify before the tool can open again; this is called the cycle time. Cycle time of the slowest machine sets the limit of how many products can be made each day. While injection molding is relatively quick, the reaction injection molding of the foam cuff is a very time consuming process, which is why 20 mold sets are needed to make just the two cuff parts in order to keep up with the injection molding machines.

An empty Pip-Boy put together from these parts without any of the inner components weighs 458 g (1 lb).

Back to blog