Source ：Wenwu 3D 2018-03-14 15:03
CNC machining is one of the most commonly used techniques for making molds. Although it can provide highly reliable results, it is also very expensive and time-consuming. Therefore, many mold manufacturers are also looking for more effective alternatives. The production of molds through Additive Manufacturing (3D printing or rapid prototyping) has become an even more attractive method, especially since molds are generally produced in small batches and their shapes are complex. Suitable for 3D printing to complete.
Today, 3D printing and various printed materials (plastics, rubber, composites, metals, wax, and sand, etc.) have brought great convenience to many industries, such as automobiles, aerospace, and healthcare, and many companies have Integrated 3D printing in its supply chain, which also includes mold manufacturing.
So, what are the benefits of mold manufacturing from 3D printing?
In fact, the following links in mold making can be used for 3D printing technology:
(1) Forming (blow moulding, LSR, RTV, EPS, injection moulding, pulp moulds, soluble mould cores, FRP moulds, etc.);
(2) molds (investment, sand mold, spinning, etc.);
(3) Metal forming (thermoforming, metal hydroforming, etc.)
(4) Mechanical processing, assembly and inspection (fixed fixtures, mobile fixtures, modular fixtures, etc.);
(5) Robot end effector (pinch hands).
Fabricating a mold with 3D printing has many advantages:
I. Reduced mold production cycle
3D printing molds shorten the entire product development cycle and become the source of innovation drive.
In the past, companies sometimes chose to postpone or abandon design updates for new products due to the need to invest a lot of money to make new molds. By reducing the tool's production lead times and enabling existing design tools to be updated quickly, 3D printing enables companies to withstand the more frequent replacement and improvement of molds, enabling the mold design cycle to keep pace with new product design cycles. .
In addition, some companies purchase 3D printing equipment themselves to make molds. This further speeds up the development of new products and increases flexibility and adaptability. Strategically, it increases the ability of the supply chain to defend against extended deadlines and the development of stagnant risks, such as obtaining inappropriate molds from suppliers.
2. Lower manufacturing costs
If the current cost of metal 3D printing is higher than the cost of traditional metal manufacturing processes, then the cost reduction is easier to achieve in the plastics field.
Metallic 3D printed dies, which have economic advantages in the production of small, discontinuous series of end products (because the fixed costs of these products are difficult to amortize), or for certain specific geometries (optimized specifically for 3D printing ) More economic advantages. Especially when the materials used are very expensive and the traditional mold making results in high material scrap rates, 3D printing has a cost advantage.
In addition, the ability of 3D printing to produce accurate molds in a matter of hours also has a positive impact on manufacturing processes and profitability, especially when production downtime and/or mold inventory are expensive.
Finally, it is often the case that the mold is modified after the start of production. The flexibility of 3D printing allows engineers to try numerous iterations at the same time and reduce the up-front costs due to mold design modifications.
III. Improvements in mold design have added more functionality to end products
In general, special metallurgical methods for 3D printing can improve metal microstructures and produce fully dense printed parts that are mechanically and physically better or better than those forged or cast (depending on heat treatment and test direction) . Additive manufacturing brings unlimited choices to engineers to improve mold design. When the target part consists of several sub-components, 3D printing has the ability to integrate designs and reduce the number of parts. This simplifies the product assembly process and reduces tolerances.
In addition, it is able to integrate complex product features to make high-functionality end products faster and fewer defects. For example, the overall mass of an injection molded part is affected by the heat transfer conditions between the injected material and the cooling fluid flowing through the mold. If the mold is manufactured using conventional techniques, the channel that directs the cooling medium is usually straight and thus created in the mold. Slower and uneven cooling effect. The 3D printing can realize any shape of cooling water channel (ie, conformal cooling water channel) to ensure conformal cooling, which is more optimized and uniform, and finally obtains higher quality plastic parts and lower reject rate. In addition, the faster removal of the mold heat can significantly reduce the injection molding cycle, as cooling times can typically be up to 70% of the entire injection molding cycle.
Four. Optimization tools are more ergonomic and improve the minimum performance
3D printing reduces the threshold for validating new tools that can address unmet needs in the manufacturing process, allowing more mobile fixtures and fixtures to be put into production. Traditionally, because of the considerable expense and effort involved in redesigning and manufacturing them, the design of the tool and the corresponding device are always used as long as possible. With the application of 3D printing technology, companies can refurbish any tool at any time, not only those tools that have been scrapped and do not meet the requirements.
Because of the small amount of time and initial cost required, 3D printing makes it possible to optimize the tool for better marginal performance and become more economical. Therefore, the technician can consider more ergonomics in the design to improve its operation. Comfort, reduced processing time, and ease of use and storage. Although doing so, it may only reduce the assembly operation time of a few seconds, but it can't hold back much. In addition, optimizing tool design can also reduce the scrap rate of parts.
[This article only represents the views of the authors. If there are different views, welcome to add Wenwu 3D WeChat public number (micro signal: Wenwu-3d) to discuss and exchange.]
So far, the company has for the automotive manufacturing, shipbuilding, aerospace, mold manufacturing, machinery processing, shoes, mobile phone manufacturing, dental and orthopedic, protection of cultural relics, university education and scientific research and so on various types of enterprises and institutions to provide nearly ten thousand times the service project.
For EnvisionTEC, 2017 is a busy year because it has introduced many new 3D printing materials, including engineering grade materials E-CE, E-Poxy and E-Flex Flex; a series of new bioprint materials and FDA approved dental 3D printing materials. The company also launched a series of new 3D printers, including large versions of the Perfactory and cDLM 3D printers, and a new Vida cDLM 3D printer for the dental market.
Recently, EnvisionTEC introduced the new Vida cDLM 3D printer. It is reported that the 3D printer is the largest of the company's existing equipment and is still based on the company's continuous digital light manufacturing (cDLM) technology.