Plastics News senior reporter Bill Bregar gathered the following stories from the Rapid Prototyping & Manufacturing 2001 show, held May 15-17 in Cincinnati.
Sanders introduces prototyping machine
Sanders Design International Inc., a rapid prototyping house in Wilton, N.H., introduced a model-making machine called Rapid ToolMaker System. The RTM uses two moving print heads. One deposits a thermoplastic material, and the other puts down supporting wax. Both materials are dispensed as hot liquid that solidifies on contact with the cooler model layer.
To ensure uniform thickness of each layer, a milling tool planes each one to a thickness from 0.5-0.005 inch, providing a smooth, level surface for the next layer.
Residue from the milling is automatically vacuumed away.
RTM has a build platform measuring 18 by 12 by 12 inches.
Syracuse, N.Y., mold maker NDM Inc., which has partnered with Sanders Design, can build a mold from a model made on the Sanders RTM.
Paramount Industries offers FDP technology
Paramount Industries Inc., a product development company in Langhorne, Pa., announced it has become the sole North American provider of a technology from South Korea called FDP.
FDP produces precision-machined aluminum tooling for injection molding, using data from three-dimensional computer-aided design drawings. Paramount said the molds can run engineering resins. A mold can make more than 25,000 parts, the firm claims.
``We can now promise delivery of production-quality parts in just 7-10 days,'' said Jim Williams, president and chief executive officer.
Paramount can make plastic parts as large as 1 by 1 by 1 foot.
South Korean firm LG Electronics Inc. developed the technology.
Automotive company tests Optomec LENS
Optomec Inc. said a first-tier automotive supplier has successfully tested an injection mold insert, built with cooling channels that follow the mold surface contours, using Optomec's LENS process.
LENS stands for Laser Engineered Net Shaping. Working directly from CAD data, a high-powered laser builds a mold layer-by-layer by welding metal powders. The mold insert was made with H13 tool steel.
Optomec of Albuquerque did not identify the automotive supplier. David Keicher, chief technology officer at Optomec, and the LENS inventor, said the mold cut cycle times by more than 20 percent.
Since the cooling channels conform to the mold surface, heat is dispersed from the mold more quickly than with traditional molds. In addition to faster cycle times, Optomec claims LENS-made molds turn out parts with a better surface finish and fine details.