Tooling in some capacity is a given for all manufacturing methods. But the process is often tedious because of complex geometries, high tolerance requirements, and the difficulty in machining materials. With in-house metal 3D printing afforded by Desktop Metal, however, tool-makers are able to overcome such challenges and achieve unprecedented efficiency.
Tooling usually refers to components used in manufacturing processes including injection molding, extrusion, stamping, cutting, casting, and assembly. Several complex parts constitute a single tooling mechanism, and the production is both time-consuming and costly.
But by leveraging on the office-friendly Studio System by Desktop Metal, tool-makers can now work with a more competitive timeline and reduce cost-per-part with on-demand production.
Example #1 – Injection molds with conformal cooling
Injection mold makers usually find it difficult to achieve the quality and desired requirements of their applications, while critical cooling channels are often limited to straight lines because of traditional manufacturing limitations. 3D printing, however, enables conformal channels reduces or eliminates hot spots while increasing coolant flow turbulence. This results in better part quality, the cost-per-part reduction, and an almost 40% increase in throughput.
Example #2 – Extrusion Die
3D printing not only affords design flexibility but also achieve complex internal structures, which significantly impacts the cost-per-part which is evident in the extrusion die fabrication process.
Complex extrusion profiles are achieved specifically through a hexagonal shape through which material will be injected, and was printed in 17-4 PH stainless steel using the Studio System.
The fabrication process with the Studio System reduces cost-per-part significantly when compared with DLMS (92%) and CNC machining (87%) respectively.
Metal vs Plastic
There’s no denying the advances in plastics, but tooling still performs better in most cases if made out of metal. Tooling is often exposed to extreme heat, corrosive chemicals, and plastic parts tend to show their wear after repeated use. Metal parts, however, lasts longer and is superior to plastics in terms of strength and stiffness where a significant force will be applied repeatedly.
Desirable materials for tooling like H13 tool steel, Inconel 625, 17-4 PH stainless steel are difficult to manufacture conventionally, but the Studio System can take them on to produce tools quickly at an affordable cost.