Rapid molding technology is a fast, convenient, and practical mold manufacturing technology. It is especially suitable for the development and trial production of new products, process verification, and functional verification, as well as multi-variety and small batch production.
What is Rapid Tooling Molding Technology?
There are different prototyping processes in manufacturing, from CNC machining to 3D printing. Unlike other prototyping processes, this process applied to low-volume injection molding helps manufacturers produce tooling and project parts in a cost-effective and fast manner. Prototyping using this method can help demonstrate how different parts of product work.
Rapid prototyping technology has been successfully used in product design, providing direct visual and tactile experience, design confirmation, assembly verification, and other applications, and is now further used in rapid tooling. Combining rapid prototyping technology and rapid tooling technology, products can be manufactured quickly and in large quantities, and the benefits of rapid prototyping technology in the product design stage can be extended to the production stage to achieve the purpose of rapid manufacturing.
Rapid tooling molding technology is a mold manufacturing technology, which is characterized by a short molding cycle, simple process, easy promotion, low molding cost, accuracy, and longevity that can meet certain functional needs and good comprehensive economic benefits. Therefore, in process design, marketing, and product evaluation, using quick tooling is a great way to develop low-volume orders.
Due to the increasingly fierce market competition and the accelerating speed of product replacement, multi-variety and small batches will become an important production method in the manufacturing industry. requirements. Therefore, rapid molding technology presents a vigorous development trend.
Rapid Tools vs Rapid Prototyping Technology
Rapid tooling is any method or technique that enables the rapid production of parts that will be used as tools. In manufacturing, one of the most common rapid mold methods - injection molds are used as a rapid mold lane to produce injection molded parts quickly and inexpensively.
- Rapid tooling involves the production of a tool or mold that enables manufacturers to rapidly-produce parts of a product that would function as a tool. Furthermore, there are two approaches to prototyping here. Direct method and indirect method. But the common technique used is injection molding.
- Rapid prototyping is a technology or method that aids the rapid production of a physical part for end-use or use as a prototype. In addition, the common technologies involved in rapid prototyping are additive manufacturing (3D printing) and subtractive manufacturing (CNC machining).
What are the Types of Rapid Molding Technology?
- Molding method based on rapid prototyping technology:
This method is based on a novel discrete/stacked molding concept, using different methods such as stereolithography, laminated solid manufacturing, laser selective sintering, 3D printing, fused deposition modeling, etc. To obtain long-life metal molds or non-metal low-life molds. This method has the characteristics of advanced technology, low cost, and short design and manufacturing cycle.
- Using high-speed cutting to process the mold:
The speed of high-speed cutting machine tools widely used in production is about 15,000 to 25,000 revolutions per minute. The use of high-speed cutting can increase the processing efficiency by more than 10 times and shorten the molding time. The mold surface after high-speed cutting and finishing can be used with only a little polishing, saving a lot of grinding and polishing time.
- Use aluminum alloy material to make plastic mold:
Aluminum alloy materials have been used more and more in the manufacture of plastic molds because of their light weight, good cutting performance, and high thermal conductivity. Using aluminum alloy materials to make molds can achieve good results in shortening the molding cycle and reducing costs. There are specialized manufacturers abroad to produce aluminum alloy materials for plastic molds. The plastic mold made of aluminum alloy has a service life of 100,000 times. If the surface of the cavity is chemically treated, the service life can reach 200,000 to 300,000 times.
- Use zinc-based low melting point gold to make molds:
Using low melting point alloys to make molds has the advantages of low cost and a short molding cycle. In particular, the combination of this molding method and rapid prototyping technology is effective. The rapid molding method using low melting point alloy is especially suitable for the rapid manufacture of large cover molds and large blow molding and suction molds. When used in cover molds, samples can be quickly produced. On the other hand, when used as a formal hard mold-making experiment, it can avoid causing irreparable defects. Blister and blow molds made of low melting point alloys have a service life of 50,000 pieces. Another advantage of this molding method is that the material can be melted and reused after the mold is scrapped.
- Other Rapid Prototyping Molding Technologies:
Such as epoxy resin molds, spray forming molds, nitrogen cylinders, etc. Epoxy resin inlaid steel molds are used for auto panel molds. The thermal spray method is used to manufacture the mold cavity, which is mainly used in the production of polyurethane foam and has been widely used in the polyurethane industry. The application of nitrogen cylinders on stamping dies can effectively simplify the die structure and improve the stamping process performance.
What are the Methods of Mold Forming?
- Liquid method:
This method uses liquid polymer as the basic material and is cured by laser light or ultraviolet light irradiation. Usually, the photocurable resin is cured by irradiation of ultraviolet laser or above, and the process is formed on the liquid surface, so it needs support. Or use the down-illuminated red visible light semiconductor laser to harden the photocurable resin, which reduces the price and maintenance cost of the system.
- Semi-liquid method:
Its working principle is very similar to the way of squeezing toothpaste. The processing method is to melt the linear thermoplastic material with the heating head, and then melt and extrude the thermoplastic solid filament material from the heating head and form it layer by layer until it is formed. The entire workpiece is complete.
- Powder method:
This method is to irradiate the powder with a laser, and the powder and powder are bonded and formed at the place irradiated by the laser. After one layer is completed, the next layer is irradiated until the workpiece is completed. The types of powder include thermoplastic powder, ceramic powder, and mineral powder.
- Solid state method:
This forming method uses a laser or a cutting knife to cut the outer contour of the workpiece on the sheet material covered with Heat-Activated Adhesive. After the outer contour is cut, it is hot-pressed and bonded to the previous layer of cut sheet material, and so on until the workpiece is completed.
What are the Advantages, Disadvantages, and Limitations of Rapid Tooling?
Advantages of Rapid Tooling -
Disadvantages of Rapid Tooling -
- Faster time to market:
In traditional machining methods, the product development cycle may involve multiple manufacturing processes and technologies. This can increase the time spent on each step and extend the time from design to real product. Quick tools involve fewer steps than traditional tool methods. Quick tools can speed up the whole process. The faster you can complete the prototyping and prototyping process, the sooner you can complete your designs and get them into the hands of your customers.
- Reduce costs:
The longer you spend on the product development cycle, the higher the cost. Over time, the speed advantages of fast tooling can save businesses money.
- Does not consume resources:
Prototyping or production using this method requires very few resources. For example, you can use one tool or mold to make multiple prototypes.
- Various material grades:
Rapid Tooling allows you to use actual production-grade materials. You can quickly manufacture custom tooling with Rapid Tooling. You can then produce as many prototypes as possible from this mold, creating parts with different material grades and testing their properties. This will give you a clearer idea of which material grades perform best in real-world applications and allow you to make the right material choices before bringing new products to market.
- Design and functional testing:
Rapid tooling allows tooling to be made in a short time. It gives more freedom to test new ideas and make design tweaks. Parts can undergo mechanical testing, such as impact and stress testing, to explore design flaws before production. This will prevent many of the problems that will arise in future high-volume production phases.
- Process parameter test:
Rapid Tooling can also be used to test process parameters during the production phase. For example, different injection speeds and mold temperatures during injection molding can affect part quality, and engineers and designers can have more measurement control over the final part.
Limitations of Rapid Tooling -
- Not durable or strong:
Prototypes made using this method are generally not durable, and molds made using this process are prone to breakage because the materials used are often not of high quality. This will result in higher production costs if you change molds repeatedly. Another way that you can increase the cost of your product is if you keep changing the design, which means changing the mold as well. This method is less suitable if details are an important quality of your product or prototype.
Creating multiple stencils using this method often results in errors. This error is usually caused by differences in mold dimensions. This is especially true if you use different materials.
It takes longer to make a master mold than to make a mold directly. In addition, the process involves many steps, which can increase production costs. If your design is likely to change during the prototyping phase, then you should avoid this approach.
- Not suitable for simple designs:
This method is best for complex designs that require a lot of detail. If your design is simple, then this approach is most likely not for you.
- Higher injection cost and labor cost:
Prototyping with rapid tools is an iterative process, which means more spending on injection molding, especially if you're looking to refine your design. Higher injection costs translate into higher labor costs, which can increase your production costs.
- Shorter die life cycle:
Fast molds do not last very long due to the stress placed on them by the injection process. The materials used to produce the molds, such as aluminum and steel, are not of high quality. This may cause you to create a new mold from time to time to replace a worn mold.