How 3D Printing Technology For Mold Manufacturing Industry

- Jul 13, 2017-

How 3D printing technology for mold manufacturing industry

CNC machining manufacturing mold is one of the most commonly used technique. Although it can provide highly reliable results, but also very expensive and time consuming, so a lot of mold manufacturing enterprises have begun looking for a more efficient alternative. And by increasing material manufacturing (Additive Manufacturing, namely 3D printing or rapid prototyping technology) production molds will become a more attractive way, especially since the mold generally are small batch production, and the shape is more complex, it is suitable for 3D printing to complete.

Today, 3D printing, and a variety of printed materials (plastics, rubber, composites, metal, wax and sand, etc.) have been to many industries such as automotive, aerospace, and healthcare has brought great convenience, many companies are in its supply chain integration of 3D printing, which also includes mold manufacturing.

So, what benefits can be obtained mold manufacturing 3D printing technology from it?

In fact, the following links to be able to use the mold manufacturing 3D printing technology:

(1) molding (blow molding, LSR, RTV, EPS, injection molding, pulp mold, soluble core, fiberglass mold and so on);

(2) mold (melting mold, sand mold, spinning, etc.);

(3) metal forming (thermoforming, metal hydroforming, etc.);

(4) machining, assembly and testing (fixture, moving fixtures, modular fixtures, etc.);

(5) the robot end-effector (pinch).

3D printing with the manufacturing mold has many advantages:

1. Mold production cycle time

3D printing mold shorten the product development cycle, and become the driving source of innovation. In the past, due to take into account the need to invest a lot of money to create new molds, the company may choose to delay or forgo new product design updates. By reducing mold production preparation time, and make existing design tools to quickly update, 3D printing companies can afford to make the mold more frequent replacement and improvement. It can make the mold design cycle to keep up with the pace of new product design cycle.

In addition, some companies purchased their own 3D printing equipment to manufacture molds, thus further accelerate the pace of new product development, improve the flexibility and adaptability. Strategically, it improves the ability to extend the supply chain anti-imperial period of stagnation and development risks, such as access inappropriate mold from suppliers.


2. Reduce manufacturing costs

If the cost of the current metal 3D printing cost than conventional metal manufacturing process, so, cost reduction in the field of plastic products easier to achieve.

3D printing metal mold in some small, the discontinuous series of end products produced economically advantageous (because the fixed cost of these products is difficult to amortization), or for some specific geometries (specifically optimized for 3D printing) more economic advantages. Especially when the material used is very expensive, and the traditional mold manufacturing lead scrap material at very high rates of cases, 3D printing has a cost advantage.

In addition, 3D printing within a few hours to create a precise mold of capacity will have a positive impact on the manufacturing processes and profits, especially when production downtime and / mold or when stocks are expensive.

Finally, sometimes often also modify the mold after the start of production will happen. 3D printing flexibility enables engineers to simultaneously try numerous iterations, and can reduce the upfront costs due to design changes caused by mold.


3. Mold design improvements for the end product adds more functionality

Typically, special metallurgically 3D printing metal microstructure can be improved, and can produce a fully dense printing member, as compared with those materials forging or casting (depending on the heat treatment and the test direction), the mechanical and physical properties as or better . Increasing material manufacturing engineers brought unlimited options to improve mold design. When the target member is composed of several sub-components, 3D printing with integrated design, and the ability to reduce the number of parts. This simplifies product assembly process and reduce the tolerances.

In addition, it can integrate complex product features that make highly functional end products manufactured faster, less defective products. For example, the overall quality of the molded parts to be affected by the heat transfer between the cooling fluid is injected into the mold material and flowing conditions. If the production tool using conventional techniques, then, guide the cooling medium passage is generally straight, resulting in slow and non-uniform cooling effect in the mold. The 3D printing can achieve any shape cooling channels (ie, conformal cooling channels), in order to ensure the realization of conformal cooling, and even more optimized, and ultimately higher quality plastic parts and lower scrap rates. In addition, the mold heat away faster, can significantly reduce the injection molding cycle, because in general, the maximum cooling time 70% of the entire injection molding cycle.

4. More ergonomic and optimization tools to enhance minimum performance

3D printing reduces the verification new tool (it can be solved during the manufacturing process meets a need) the threshold, it is possible to put more and move jig fixture in manufacture. Traditionally, due to the re-design and manufacturing costs and they require considerable effort, so the design of the tool and the corresponding apparatus is always possible to use a longer time. With the application of 3D printing technology, companies can at any time for any tool for renovation, but not limited to, those tools have been scrapped, and does not meet the requirements.

Because of the time and requires little initial cost, 3D printing makes for better tools to optimize the performance becomes more economically marginal, so technicians can give more consideration to ergonomics in the design, in order to improve its operating comfort reduce processing time, and more convenient to use and easy to store. While this may be just a few seconds reduces assembly operation time, but Jiabu Zhu add up. In addition, the design optimization tools, you can reduce the rejection rate of parts.