3-D printers help mold makers create prototype tooling

By Rhoda Miel
News Editor

Published: November 12, 2013 6:25 pm ET
Updated: November 12, 2013 6:26 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Molds/Tooling

Prototype mold makers are adopting 3-D printers to make injection mold tooling capable of turning out parts in standard machines with standard resins.

While the printers have some limitations, toolmaker Diversified Plastics Inc. has produced molds capable of turning out parts in ABS, 30 percent glass-filled nylon, polycarbonate, acetone and thermoplastic elastomer.

"It's all about R&D at this point, and we've been working closely with [3-D printer maker] Stratasys," said Annette Lund, vice president for Minneapolis-based Diversified Plastics, during a Nov. 12 telephone interview. "This is a great tool, and we're looking to the future now."

Stratasys Ltd. of Edina, Minn., has also worked with German mold maker Seuffer GmbH & Co. KG for injection mold tooling.

Seuffer, of Calw, Germany, says it can save about 97 percent of the cost of a standard prototype mold, and produce them within days rather than eight weeks.

Diversified Plastics added an Object 260 3-D printer from Stratasys earlier this year to use both for prototype parts and for injection mold tooling. The company has mold making and injection molding in house, which allows it to test both molds and the final molded part.

It takes longer to add water lines and other systems to the prototype tool than it does to print the actual tool itself, Lund said, while using the printer also gives the company greater flexibility to try out different cores and cavities.

About 20 percent of Diversified Plastics' business is in the medical industry. The requirements from health and safety agencies to fully test and validate medical equipment makes prototype tooling using the actual resins for production much more important, she said, and the rapid turnaround available from 3-D printing – along with the ability to make 10 to 20 parts for testing – makes a lot of sense for those customers.

Seuffer targets its prototype molds for the auto industry, where engineers must sample complex parts with the same heat and environmental issues the final component will face. Using the printed mold with standard processing and resins allows its customers to fully test an under-the-hood part, for instance, that must stand up to heat and oil.

But 3-D printing does have some limitations for mold making. The size of 3-D printers limits the tools to small to medium molds. It cannot produce molds for parts with thin walls, and cannot be used for high heat resins, Lund said, but she added Diversified has been able to do far more with printed molds than it first thought possible.


Comments

3-D printers help mold makers create prototype tooling

By Rhoda Miel
News Editor

Published: November 12, 2013 6:25 pm ET
Updated: November 12, 2013 6:26 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Netstal, Electra Form team up for PET preform partnership

November 20, 2014 3:15 pm ET

The Netstal division of Krauss-Maffei Corp. is teaming up with Electra Form Industries in a partnership to offer PET preform machines and molds as a...    More

Image

Illinois mold maker adds machinery, renovates to improve work flow

November 18, 2014 1:23 pm ET

Injection mold maker Industrial Molds Inc. is adding $1.7 million in new machinery, the company has announced.    More

Image

Zahoransky system squeezes more production time out of molds

November 17, 2014 6:00 am ET

Freiburg, Germany-based mold and automation systems maker Zahoransky Formenbau GmbH has developed a new technology which allows for assembling and...    More

Image

In-mold labeling growth leads to investments for StackTeck

November 11, 2014 4:17 pm ET

Mold-maker StackTeck Systems Ltd. is investing in new machining equipment and beefing up its pilot cell for in-mold labeling.    More

Market Reports

Plastics in Brazil - State of the Industry Report

This in-depth report examines the Brazilian plastics industry from a historical and geographical context. Our analysts provide insight on economic trends and forecasts, growing manufacturing sectors that utilize plastics, private investment opportunities, market environment challenges, and innovations in R&D.

Data tables and charts on producer prices, trade, plastics production and end market indicators is also included.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Injection Molders Market Report & Ranking 2014

This special package contains our 132-page 2014 Market Report on the Injection Molding segment and our exclusive 2014 RANKINGS database of 500+ Injection Molders for a discounted package price.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events