Rapid Tooling for Streamlined Development, Low Volume Production and Mass Customization
Rapid Tooling is perhaps the largest growth area for 3D printing. 3D Printed Rapid Tooling can be created to fast-track many conventional processes including investment and sand casting, blow molding, thermoforming, injection molding, tube bending, die casting and carbon fiber layup. 3D Printed Jigs and Fixtures also fall into this category.
What is the benefit of Rapid Tooling? A tool is designed similar to conventional tooling, printed in 1-3 days and then used to process conventional materials in conventional processes. The ability to print rapid-tooling allows for engineers and product designers to prove out designs, test minimum viable products or create ready to use products without a conventional 3-8 week lead time.
Assembly jigs and fixtures are a very common rapid-tooling application that we see. Benefits from this category include a fast turnaround time, weight reductions, and customized work holding devices.
Casting patterns can be created through a myriad of printing methods, though we have two favorites: RealWax Printing and Stereolithography Quickcast. Wax printing is ideal for small detailed parts from wedding rings to knee implants. The high-resolution, low ash content and low melting temperatures make this product a perfect replacement for traditional casting waxes. The stereolithography Quickcast process is more conducive to industrial components like large impellers, turbines, and manifolds.
3D printed core and cavity sets are produced daily for blow-molding, thermoforming and injection molding applications. This methodology is used most regularly when the need is for between 10 and 500 plastic components. Commonly used technologies include multi-jet printing, stereolithography, and selective laser sintering, though it is advisable to use an experienced provider who can recommend the proper material to withstand high temperatures and pressures.
We also have experience with specialized tooling applications in tube bending dies, die casting mold inserts and carbon fiber layup tooling.
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