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What You Need to Know About Rapid Tooling

by Nice Rapid | May 07,2020 | Rapid Tooling

Rapid tooling is the product of combining traditional tooling methods and rapid prototyping processes. It is the latest manufacturing techniques that has been designed when a small number of customized components became popular. The need for such components recognized adaptable technological methods, where manufacturing preparation should be fast, so the tooling production needs to be shortened.

The Basics of Rapid Tooling

The manufacturing process of traditional tooling is similar to the development of low-batch commercial components. A blank can be forged, cast, or bought. It depends on the technical requirements. Then, machined, treated into very high temperatures to increase the durability and completed with the use of a precision manufacturing process.

The work usually takes a month to complete. It depends on the number of components and complexity. Thus, it is best to use less time and work on tooling with bad properties, but these are not enough to develop a prototype or test-batch of the product.

The Difference Between Direct and Indirect Rapid Tooling

Direct Fabrication Process

Molding and casting are rapid prototyping techniques that meet the particular materials and application requirements. But, rapid tooling techniques and methods have SLS and SLA that are made for particular systems.

Indirect Fabrication Process

The applications are unlimited, even if there is an improvement in material properties, and the increase continues. Thus, transferring materials used in some components fabricated in the rapid tooling process into other materials cannot be avoided.

Current Rapid Tooling Technologies

The process is developing from a scientific idea into a commercial industry. It is used by the frontline prototyping companies to decrease the length of time. The difficulty in manufacturing the parts is in combination with different manufacturing techniques with the design possibilities they provided and the part properties they develop. Because of the lack of study in the rapid tooling processes, repetition of the process is a major issue that needs to be assessed.

Rapid Tooling Methods

Aside from rapid tooling, several rapid manufacturing techniques are also being practiced. Many of them have fallen from the rapid prototyping technologies, but with some modifications. The toughness and precision requirements on tooling are higher as compared to simple prototypes. Below is the list of widely used rapid tooling techniques.

3D Printing

The latest process in rapid tooling is additive manufacturing. Some of the standard additive processes include direct metal deposition and bed fusion. These processes use metal powder sintered together to produce the desired component.

3D printed product design

CNC Machining

It is the most traditional rapid tooling technique. This system has made the machining process more flexible and has shortened the lead time.

Soft Silicone Tooling

This process is recommended for manufacturing plastic prototype or low-volume batches. It requires a master-model to be manufactured by 3D printing or CNC or manually. The master part is suspended over the tank, and the silicone is poured into it. The hardened silicone is then cut in half to remove the master model.

The industry of prototyping has to get better every day, and the manufacturing industry is benefiting a lot from it.

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