The Basics of Rapid Tooling

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Posted on May.24th, 2019, | By WayKen Rapid Manufacturing

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Rapid tooling (bridge tooling) delivers low volume production quality parts (up to 100,000) from production resins.  Get instant quote!

What is Rapid Tooling?

Rapid tooling is a considerably new manufacturing process that has been developed when small-batch customized parts became widespread. The demand for such parts established flexible technological processes, where manufacturing preparation must be as short as possible, so tooling production had to be shortened.

A Short Overview of the Conventional Tooling Methods

The manufacturing process of conventional tooling is quite similar to the manufacturing of low-batch commercial parts. Depending on the technical requirements, a blank is either cast, forged, or just bought (chosen as a cylinder from the standard diameter list). It is then machined, heat-treated to increase its durability, and then ground and finished using precision manufacturing techniques.

Overall, depending on the complexity and the number of parts, manufacturing, take a plastic injection mold, for example, requires months. Therefore, sometimes it is better to use less time and manufacture the tooling with worse properties, however, that those are enough to make a prototype or a test-batch of the product.

What is Rapid Tooling Direct And Indirect?

Direct Fabrication Process

Molding and Casting are specialized rapid prototyping process for which meet specific application and material requirements. However, rapid tooling processes and methods have normal forms including Sla and Sls that developed for specific applications.

Indirect Fabrication Process

Although material properties improve and increase continuously, applications are unlimited. Therefore, it cannot avoid transferring materials that have been used in some parts fabricated in the rapid tooling process into other materials. With the injection molding technology improves, several material transfer technologies have been developed for using specific to make most tools

Rapid Tooling Today

Rapid Tooling technologies are currently developing from a scientific concept into a commercial industry. The  Rapid Tooling processes are currently used by the frontline prototyping companies to further decrease the lead-time of the product. The difficulty in tooling manufacturing is in combining the multitude of manufacturing techniques with the design possibilities they enable and part properties they provide. Due to a lack of research in the Rapid tooling processes, repeatability is also a big issue that has to be assessed yet.

Rapid Tooling Process & Methods Used In Prototyping

Despite the novelty of rapid tooling, a significant number of rapid manufacturing techniques exist nowadays. A lot of them have descended from the rapid prototyping technologies, however, with some changes. The precision and durability requirements towards tooling are much higher than for simple prototypes. So, here is a list of the most significant Rapid Tooling techniques.

CNC Machining

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CNC machining is the most conventional of Rapid tooling techniques. The development of CNC systems has made the machining processes much more flexible and lead time much shorter. The need for specialized fixtures is gone since the probes can determine the exact position and dimensions of the blank.

Any kind of surface can be manufactured with a very tight tolerance (up to a few microns) on the 5-Axis machine tools.  Rapid machining services make it possible to order a prototype or a small batch without the need to invest in expensive equipment.

Overall, this method is one of the best in terms of precision and available material range. CNC parts, however, have some limitations when it comes to cavities.  It is hard to manufacture sharp edges and deep grooves.

You are ready to launch your CNC machining project?    Get in quote 24 hours

3D Printing

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Additive manufacturing is one of the newest processes that found its use among Rapid Tooling techniques. There are different additive processes but the most widely used ones for tooling are bed fusion and direct metal deposition. Both of them use metal powder sintered together layer-by-layer to obtain the desired part.

The main advantage of 3D printing is its unprecedented flexibility. You need no fixtures at all and you do not require blanks. The metal powder is universal. You can also create sharp corners and cooling channels that are impossible to make using other processes. The downside of the process is that the surface quality is not very good, so you will have to spend some time post-processing.

Soft Silicone tooling

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When manufacturing plastic prototypes or low-volume batches, producing conventional injection molds is too long and expensive. So, soft tooling is manufactured instead. The process requires a master-model that has to be manufactured either manually (wood will do) or by 3D-printing or CNC prototype machining. The master part is suspended over the tank and liquefied silicone is poured over it. Once the silicone hardens, it is cut in half and the master model is ejected. The result is an injection mold made of silicone that can withstand up to 15 uses.

EDM Tooling

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Electrical Discharge Machining is indispensable when your tooling has to be made of very hard material. For example, some dies that are used to manufacture titanium alloy parts withstand tremendous stresses even when prototypes are manufactured. So, instead of spending a ton of time cutting small chips off the blank using a milling center, it is more preferable to make a reversed cavity form on a softer material (aluminum or copper) and install it as a tool on an EDM machine.

EDM employs electrical discharges between the blank (the future titanium dies) and the tool (copper with the reversed cavity). Small titanium particles are evaporated due to the discharges and the tool is lowered thus creating the cavity in the titanium much faster.

Advantages of Rapid Tooling

Using intermediate tooling to produce a small number of prototypes or functional tests is a key process for the product development cycle. Rapid tooling plays a great role during marketing samples, evaluation purposes, and production process design.

  • Satisfy Custom mold for personal applications
  • Flexible rapid tooling materials selection is decided by the client and followed by cooperative partner
  • Fast prototyping product can be launched into the market than the predicted time
  • Compared with the products are manufactured by mass-production injection tools,
  • the price of products can be cheaper
  • Shorter tooling time, cheaper tooling time than conventional tool
  • Get rid of troubleshooting existing problems
  • Obvious time advantages on shorting product lifecycle, lowering the cost and the time of product manufacture while creating molds for various commercial operations
  • Strong ability to manufacture a wide range of injection molding materials to create perfect custom molded products.

Which Type of  Rapid Tooling is Right for Your Product

We all know that creating a mold with rapid tooling is not always helping to save lots of time.  When it comes to mold manufacturing, rapid tooling is typically faster than traditional machining of steel or aluminum, but the process of finishing touches that maybe can slow your process down once the mold is shaped or created.

If you have any questions about creating low-volume molded plastic parts, please feel free to request a quote and our experts will be in touch with you as soon as possible.

How Rapid Tooling is done for Injection Molding?

After creating aluminum or steel molds by a rapid tooling process, then they can be used as a part of the molding process to create multiple copies of the part. Therefore, the Rapid tooling is used to create moldings for low volume rapid prototyping.

Manufacturing Process by Injection Molding

There are three components that are necessary for the manufacturing of tools or parts;

  1. Molding machine
  2. Molding material  
  3. Raw material.

The molding machine is turned on and the molding material needs to rise the desire temperature or conditions that are necessary. Then the raw material is heated in the injection molding machine. The casting material used by machine and experiment performed for changing or molding of desire shape. Once the machine gives the final shape, the raw material which has been shaped is cooled inside the injection machine. After that, it is removed and the final shape is achieved.

Manufacturing Process by Injection Molding

There are three components that are necessary for the manufacturing of tools or parts;

  1. Molding machine
  2. Molding material  
  3. Raw material.

The molding machine is turned on and the molding material needs to rise the desire temperature or conditions that are necessary. Then the raw material is heated in the injection molding machine. The casting material used by machine and experiment performed for changing or molding of desire shape. Once the machine gives the final shape, the raw material which has been shaped is cooled inside the injection machine. After that, it is removed and the final shape is achieved.

What kind of Material is Used for Tools Production?

For the larger volume production of tools, there are some properties on the basis of which material is selected such as; durability, proper functioning, low material cost, mechanical hardness, and tools life. So, there are two basic material which possesses these properties and able to use in rapid tooling i.e.: Aluminium and Steel.

Aluminum Molds:

Aluminum is a very effective method for rapid tooling. It is useful for injection molds, dies, and die casting molds. It has a short life period as compared to steel but it is efficient in working for short to medium span manufacturing turns. It has a very good ability of heat transfer. It is significant to duplicate the initial pattern into the material accomplished to withstand such heat. Aluminum molding faces some distortion of tools, shrinking, and geometrical limitations.

Steel Molds:

Steel is mechanically hard and efficient to use in rapid machining. It has a longer life span than aluminum. It is generally used for the fabrication of digital core and cavity geometries that have been created. It is used when there is a need to change the design of material by removing the metal from the tools to meet the desired shape. The manufactured mold is modified by this instead of remaking of the tool. The rapid steel molds can withstand with the settings of injection modeling. It has a good advantage over speed, tool strength, and die casting but lags by cost and size inspection.

The Future of Rapid Tooling

The rapid tooling processes are very promising in the current era of customized goods. That is why a lot of companies invest in research that concerns itself with inventing new ways to rapidly manufacture tooling. Existing processes are being constantly improved as well. Only a few years ago we couldn’t dream of using printed parts for anything rather than models but now, functional printed parts are used in a wide range of different machines.

CNC precision, materials, and speeds are being improved as well. New cutting speeds are reached every year and the improvements are only growing at a rapid rate.

The same things can be said for soft tooling Silicone molds are being cured in the oven now to increase their durability. New plastics are being constantly developed.

RT will soon move from prototypes and single parts into full-scale mass production.

Under the Influence of Trade War

During the trade disputes, the united states unreasonably impose heavy taxes on the machining industry. As we know, since the mold industry can be regarded as “the mother of manufacturing”, it must be a heavy strike for us to rely on the advantages of price in an old way. On the contrary, the trade dispute is good news for America that exports high-quality molds with high precision and high-tech, they can easily defeat us on price reasons while not influenced more under our revenge.

Although China’s mold industry takes leads in yields and exports, whatever it refers to the level of design and making is much lower than America, we can take for the lifetime of molds as an example. It suggested that domestic mold companies take proactive polices to industry upgrading while abanding the old teeth of price advantages.

Where Should the Injection Molding Industry go Tomorrow?

1.Lift improvement to the mold industry techniques. With coming up with Made in China 2025, more and more companies have passed quality system certification so as to embrace new situations. Besides, these companies combine CAD/CAE/CAM & 3D techniques with ERP & IM3, some revolutionary cool-tech include High-speed machining, rapid prototyping, visual simulation, robotics, and smart manufacturing have been applied to mold matching industry.

2. Optimize the scale of mold machining bases. With the increasing demands from domestic and abroad, traditional mold workshops must improve the modes of management in a larger direction. In recent years, Mold city, Mold park, Mold production bases, etc have rapidly spread in the whole nation, thus creating the striking scale of economy and industrial clusters.

3. Attach great importance to Brand and Patent and strengthen innovation and research and development. With the development market-economy, some entrepreneurial enterprises and star-ups have come to realize their importance of innovation and R&D and input more investment, because they think brand and pattern have become the development trend of the molding industry in the future.

4. Provide more Support for mold industry personnel training. In recent years, although the staff is increasingly employed by China’s molding industry, we still cannot catch up with the requirements of industry for which lacking for related enterprised managers, middle and senior technical personnel with high quality. So, the quality and number of talents will be our pursuit.

Wayken Should do

When it comes to Rapid Production Tooling, WayKen specializes in rapid tooling of both aluminum and steel and low volume plastic injection molding to turn over your specific material parts within 2-5 weeks while exceeding your highest expectations.

Faced with the risk of the trade dispute, we still have a long way to go in precision, lifetime, manufacturability of mold compared with the advanced industrial nation. Reducing imports and strengthening manufacturability will be our ultimate goal in the rapid injection molding industry.

Rapid Tooling | WayKen

Rapid Tooling Services

Quickly and costly get your molded parts with the production-grade material and technology process by using the rapid tooling, for low volume rapid injection molding.

What is Rapid Tooling?

Rapid tooling is often referred to as prototype tooling, bridge tooling, or soft tooling. Rapid tooling is a crucial step on the path to production. It involves the manufacture of tools used to create products, such as rapid injection molds, rapid die cast molds, sheet metal prototype molds, quick and easy jigs and fixtures, and other custom parts. Create rapid tooling to conduct trial production of hundreds or even thousands of parts before mass production is a very useful step for design optimization, functional testing or pre-production verification.

Rapid Injection Molding - WayKen

Reasons to Choose Rapid Tooling

Whether to choose rapid tooling will depend on three basic factors: delivery, cost and acceptable quality. Those are the three primary differences between rapid tooling vs conventional tooling.

  • Delivery: Faster manufacturing and shorter cycle time. This is particularly useful in instances where low-volume manufacturing is extremely time-sensitive.
  • Cost: More cost-effective than conventional tooling. Because rapid tooling is a simplified process that takes less time and requires less human labor.
  • Quality: Compared with conventional tooling, parts manufactured by rapid tooling are generally less durable and have a shorter service life. However, the affordability of minimally quality has a positive impact on your profits.
  • Advantages of WayKen Rapid Tooling Services

  • With experience in CNC machining, EDM machining, and special finishing, we can prove that we specialize in rapid tooling and rapid injection molding.
  • Turn over your low-volume plastic parts of specific material within 2-5 weeks while exceeding your highest expectations.
  • Help you speed up the pre-production testing and verification, bridge the gap to production, and use a more complete design to put into production and enter the market faster.
  • What is Rapid Injection Molding?

    Rapid injection molding is a production method in which rapid tooling is applied to plastic molding, which can not only manufacture hundreds of pilot runs production for test prototype parts close to the final product, but also provide on-demand production of end-use parts for low volume injection molding.

    Why Choose WayKen for Rapid Injection Molding?

    At WayKen, We use injection molding in tandem with our rapid tooling capabilities, allowing us to produce low-volume injection molded parts quickly and cost-efficiently. WayKen takes a proactive approach to plastic projects, providing cost-effective and rationalized advice from designs, materials, production processes, manufacturability, etc. We determine your best pathway to the marketplace based on your project’s goals and expectations, and provide you with better choices for your investment in tool life and process technologies, to ensure the success of your project.

    rapid injection molds

    Aluminum Mold Tooling – Receive Plastic Parts In 3 Weeks Or Less

    How Rapid Injection Molding Works?

    Need as few as 100 or more than 100,000 molded plastic parts? Rapid injection molding is a cost-effective solution.

    Optimized Design for Manufacturability (DFM)

    Design for manufacturability (DFM) covers every aspect of the injection molding process from part design, mold tooling design, and materials selection to processing. No need to wait for production to reveal issues with design, because with optimized design for manufacturability, our engineers will ensure your parts can be tooled and molded to scale as cost-effectively as possible.

    Choose the Right Material of Mold Tools

    The right material of mold tools will involve considerations such as intended use, volume requirements, and expected investment, as well as design complexity, mold structure, and so on. Not sure which one to choose? We will help you weigh each of these advantages to find the best solution for your product needs.
    We can make rapid mold tools from Aluminum 7075, P20 and NAK80 semi-hardened steels and H13 fully-hardened steel. We also offer standard SPI finishes, EDM texturing and a range of etched textures including Mold-Tech® MT series and VDI® 3400 series.

    rapid prototype tooling

    Cost-effective Mold Manufacturing Process

    In order to fully satisfy the need of rapid production and cost reduction, normally we utilize the Master Unit Die Quick-Change (MUD) System which are proven to save tooling time and reduce costs. Even more importantly, engineering changes involve only the MUD mold insert, not an entire standard mold base. You can also group several similar parts together on what is known as a family tool for greater savings. In addition, manual or semi-automatic inserts are also often used in rapid mold tooling.
    WayKen begins the design review process with you and our design engineers. We believe that a great solution means full communication meanwhile ensure u can get available resources selection.

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