The Basics Of Rapid Tooling
Rapid Tooling or prototyping is the term used for the utilization of a rapid prototype as a pattern for tool production. This is done for production of molding materials or direct production of a tool using a rapid prototyping system. There are several technologies that are used. Some of them are prototype or bridge tooling and short run or production tooling.
Clients needs and expectations determine which methods are used in production. For instance, to facilitate high volume production and low quantity parts, injection mold is used. Typical applications include limited product life span, prove out design, prove out material selection, prove out concepts and supply of parts while production tooling is being manufactured. Defined material requirements, defined manufacturing quantities and finalized part design are other applications.
The material commonly used is aluminum. This is a versatile approach in that it can be CNC machines, it can be textured, EDMed and it can be used to create undercuts. Also, it is possible to apply textures on aluminum. They may be sent out for particular textures or be bead blasted. Other materials are polyethylene, polypropylene, ABS, polycarbonate and nylon.
Almost all thermoplastic materials can be molded and engineering grade resins can be molded as well. It is also possible for parts to be molded with undercuts. Lifters, cams and lifters can be integrated into the process. For low part volumes, it is possible for hand loaded inserts to be used to help in keeping costs down. As is the case with all plastic parts that needs to be injection molded, a draft is needed. Its degree is determined by a number of factors such as the surface finish, the depth of draw and textures. Usually, one degree draft serves the purpose.
Rapid Tooling complements rapid prototyping options by enabling provision of greater quantities of parts in a greater range of materials.
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