Rapid Tooling in Additive Manufacturing
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Rapid Tooling in Additive Manufacturing

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Building tools and molds requires plenty of investments in terms of time and money. Today's in-demand industrial applications necessitate businesses to use a manufacturing method that is fast, efficient, cost-effective, and reliable. Rapid tooling is the best solution for that. You can use the additive manufacturing method to work with prototypes and product samples. You can also make some mold components with rapid tooling in additive manufacturing.



Getting to Know about the Additive Manufacturing Method


What is additive manufacturing? Let's learn about a few essential aspects to know about the additive manufacturing method:


• It's the Manufacturing Method that Adds Materials to the Produced Parts.

Additive manufacturing is the production method that requires you to add materials to the produced part instead of subtracting them. You can choose between plastic and metal materials and process the materials using additive manufacturing equipment. It will follow specified computerized commands to ensure the highest accuracy and precision for the produced parts. The additive manufacturing equipment will follow the basic principles of 3D printing.


• CAD and 3D Model Design as the Part Blueprint. 

With additive manufacturing, CAD and 3D model design will become the blueprint for the part you produce. Most additive manufacturing equipment can read CAD and 3D model design files. You will create the 3D model design for the parts you need to build and send the file to the additive manufacturing equipment. Only then can you start the production process of the product.


• Computerized and Automatic Production Process. 

Additive manufacturing uses a fully computer-controlled method of production with minimal human labor. You only need to prepare the materials and set up the configurations for the additive manufacturing machine. Then, the equipment will use the automaton system to complete the production process based on your settings.


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• 3D Printing Technology. 

Most additive manufacturing systems today use 3D printing technology in their primary operations. Although there are many categories of additive manufacturing, each has the primary principle of 3D printing. You can use rapid tooling to create product samples using 3D printing equipment. This technology will allow you to inspect and test the product samples before you go on full-scale production.


• Layer-by-Layer Material Buildup. 

The layering process will follow the 3D design blueprint you have inputted into the manufacturing equipment. The equipment will create the end product from the bottom to the top layer. With this layer-by-layer material buildup, you can get the most detailed parts, molds, or components. It will leave very little room for errors in your production.


Rapid Tooling in Additive Manufacturing - The Fast-Paced Production Method for Tools or Molds


Be aware that rapid tooling in additive manufacturing has its pros and cons. Look for these pros and cons before choosing rapid tooling in favor of the conventional method.


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Pros


• Building Tools or Molds Fast. 

Rapid tooling focuses on the tooling processes, meaning the production of tools or molds for various manufacturing operations. The good thing about this method is that you can build tools or molds much quicker than traditional tooling. You can prepare the injection molds for various manufacturing operations within 24 hours with the help of rapid tooling.


• Lower Costs of Tool Fabrication. 

Aside from the tooling speed it offers, rapid tooling also provides lower costs of tool fabrication. Fabricating molds and tools with rapid tooling will also incur minimal overhead expenses compared to the traditional tooling method. It can contribute to the overall minimum production costs for your manufacturing projects.


• More Efficient than Conventional Tooling. 

Conventional tooling requires a series of complicated processes with lots of manual labor involved. Traditional tooling doesn't have a high efficiency level, and the process is long and arduous. So, rapid tooling can give you more efficiency in the production process.


• Most Plastic Materials are Compatible. 

Rapid tooling can process most plastic materials using the additive manufacturing method. Plastic materials such as ABS, Nylon, Resin, and PETG are compatible with rapid tooling. You can utilize these plastic materials to build the parts or components according to your design blueprint.


• Different Applications for Rapid Tooling. 

Nowadays, manufacturers need to create tools and mold fast as the demand for these manufacturing tools is rising. You can use rapid tooling to make inserts for the molding operations. Other applications include sheet metal forming and tooling for injection molding.



Cons


• It's Best Only For Producing Additional Mold Components. 

Rapid tooling in additive manufacturing is best for producing additional mold components or component prototypes. You can make small components and parts in low volume easily. You can also test samples and make various iterations for the mold components faster with rapid tooling in additive manufacturing.


• It's More Suitable for Prototype Production. 

In additive manufacturing, rapid tooling is only best for producing prototypes of parts or components for industrial applications. Building prototypes of molds or tools is also possible with rapid tooling in additive manufacturing. With these mold prototypes, you can inspect various parts of the molds or tools before producing the primary molds.


• You Can't Produce Primary Molds with Additive Manufacturing. 

Additive manufacturing is not the best method to produce metal components, such as making the primary molds for injection molding. Instead, you can build primary tools for molding operations with subtractive manufacturing methods, such as CNC machining. Thankfully, rapid tooling supports both additive and subtractive manufacturing methods. They go hand in hand in fulfilling your production needs.


• Metal Materials Must Use Subtractive Manufacturing Process. 

Rapid tooling in additive manufacturing can only use metal material in a limited capacity. So, you can't use additive manufacturing to produce metal components, such as primary molds, at a full scale. Instead, you have to switch to subtractive manufacturing to make parts or components that use a high amount of metals.


Conclusion

You need to combine the additive and subtractive manufacturing methods in rapid tooling. It will allow you to get the most out of this manufacturing operation. You cannot leave the subtractive manufacturing process out of the equation with rapid tooling. It must go hand in hand with additive manufacturing to create the best quality molds and tools for your projects.


TEAM MFG is a professional rapid manufacturing company, we help lots of customers to launch their projects successfully, contact us today to request a free quote now.



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