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Different Methods in Rapid Tooling Today

by | May 26,2020 | Rapid Tooling

At present, the rapid tooling technologies have some changes from a scientific concept to the commercial industry. The process is used by big industries in prototyping companies to reduce the lead-time of the item. Combining the different manufacturing techniques with design possibilities is one of the hardest parts in tooling manufacturing. Because of the limited sturdy in this process, repetition of the work is likewise a major concern that needs to be addressed.

Rapid Tooling Methods

In spite of the fact that rapid tooling is new, there is a high number of techniques that exist these days. Many have stemmed from the rapid prototyping, but with some modifications. The durability and precision requirements towards rapid tooling are greater than for standard prototypes. Below are some of the essential rapid tooling techniques.

3D Printing

The newest process in rapid tooling is the 3D printing or additive manufacturing. There are various types of additive processes, but direct metal deposition and bed fusion are the most widely used. The process is done by adding metal powder fused together and is added layer-by-layer to achieve the needed part.

The primary advantage of this 3D printing is its flexibility. You do not require fixtures and blanks in this process; instead, you will be using metal powder. With this process creating a product with sharp corners as well as cooling channels is possible. The only drawback is the surface quality, so you need to spend some time on post-processing.

Additive manufacturing in aerospace

CNC Machining

This is the traditional rapid tooling method. The introduction of CNC systems has made the machining process more flexible and complete the project fast. It does not require specialized fixtures since the probes can detect the precise position and dimension of the blank.

A tight tolerance is applied in manufacturing on the 5-axis machine equipment. Rapid machining makes it possible to order a small batch or a prototype without the need to buy costly equipment.

This method is definitely the best when it comes to precision and the availability of the material. But, some CNC parts are not available with regards to cavities. Manufacturing with sharp edges and deep groves is not easy at all.

Soft Silicone Tooling

For plastic prototypes or low-volume batches, using conventional injection molds is quite expensive and may take longer. Soft silicone tooling is your best option. In this process, you need a master-model that is manufactured using 3D printing or CNC prototype machining or manually.

The master model is suspended over the tank as you pour over the liquefied silicone. Allow the silicone to harden, then cut it in half, and the master model is removed. The outcome is a silicone injection mold that can be used up to 15 times.

The technique will depend on the material that you will use. Some process is not suitable for projects with sharp or sophisticated edges. Others are developed to work fast and accurately. The rapid tooling can hasten the manufacturing of parts.

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