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Exploring Rapid Tooling and Its Various Applications
by Nice Rapid | Feb 20,2021 | Rapid Tooling

The demand for new products has given rise to new technologies that would allow faster production of tools and parts. One of them is the rapid tooling. By combining rapid prototyping and traditional tooling, molds are produced quicker.

Rapid tooling is used to test parts during the prototyping phase in product development. The prototypes we are talking about here are 3D models made available for testing and evaluation. In rapid tooling, the parts produced are made using computer-aided design (CAD) data.

Direct vs. Indirect

There are two types of rapid tooling: direct and indirect. In the direct method, the tools and molds are made directly from using CAD software. Meaning, the data will be directly sent to the machine in a subtractive process like CNC machining or additive like a 3D printer to make the mold or tools. The prototypes are directly produced from them. This is primarily used in small-volume manufacturing of prototypes.

For indirect rapid tooling, the model of the master mold is made using the CAD software. The data is directly sent to the printer or machine to produce a master mold or pattern. In return, more molds are produced using the master pattern.

The indirect method is frequently used in prototyping because it is more perfect for product testing and evaluation. That is because you can make test tools and molds from a single pattern. It can accommodate a variety of materials for different properties needed on the prototype.

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Applications of Rapid Tooling

Rapid tooling enables manufacturers to use production-grade materials, giving them a clearer picture of the parts and how it functions in its applications in the real world. It also allows product designers to test and confirm if the material used fits the requirements.

In other rapid tooling techniques, the parts are produced through injection molding to test their strength during impact and stress testing. With information for the feedback, designers can make the changes, if there is any, before going into full production.

There are many applications for rapid tooling, and these applications will expand because new procedures will be developed in the future. Molds can be made from metallic and non-metallic while casting shapes and cores can now be made using SLS applications. Other applications of rapid tooling include EDM, for making stamps and hybrid patterns for casting and producing splintering tools.

Rapid tooling is also used for testing the parameters of production so that they can check if the parts fill correctly and will act as desired. This way, the product designers and engineers can see future flaws and make the necessary changes before final production.

Conclusion

Rapid tooling is used for a variety of reasons, aside from prototyping and testing. It is low cost and can be a perfect option for producing injection molded parts. It is fast and therefore, allows companies to get the parts to market quickly. The cost advantages are also another reason why companies use this technique for market testing, and lower volume production runs.

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