The mold industry is a very large-scale industry, which is related to all fields of the manufacturing industry. The components of numerous products are made by molding (injection, blow molding, and silica gel) or by casting (investment, sanding, and spinning). No matter what applies, the mold can improve efficiency and profit while ensuring quality. CNC is the most commonly used in mold manufacturing, but it is very expensive and time-consuming. So many mold manufacturing enterprises are also looking for more effective alternative ways. It has become an attractive method to make molds through additive manufacturing (AM). Many molds are generally produced in small batch and have complex shapes, so they are very suitable for 3D printers.
Nowadays, 3D printing and various printing materials (plastic, rubber, composite materials, metal, wax, sand) have brought great convenience to many industries, such as automobile, aerospace, medical and so on. Many enterprises have a 3D printer in their supply chain, including mold manufacturing.
The following aspects of mold manufacturing need 3D printing technology:
1. Molding (blow molding, LSR, RTV, EPS, injection molding, pulp mold, soluble mold core, FRP mold, etc.) mold (investment mold, sand mold, spinning, etc.) ;
2. Forming (thermoforming, metal hydroforming, etc.) ;
3. Machining, assembly, and inspection (fixed fixture, mobile fixture, modular fixture, etc.) ;
There are many advantages to make a mold with 3D printing:
1) Shorten the mold production cycle
3D printing mold shortens the whole product development cycle and drives innovation. In the past, due to investing a lot of money to manufacture new molds, companies may choose to postpone or abandon the design and update of products. By reducing the production time of the mold, and making the existing design tools can be updated quickly, 3D printing satisfies enterprises to withstand mold replacement and promotion more frequently. It can make the mold design cycle keep up with the product design cycle.
2) Manufacturing cost reduction
If the cost of metal 3D printing is higher than that of traditional metal manufacture, the cost reduction is easier to achieve in the field of plastic products. In addition, metal 3D printing molds have economic advantages in the production of small and discontinuous end products (because the fixed cost of these products is difficult to amortize), or more economic advantages for some specific geometry (specially optimized for 3D printing). Especially when the materials used are very expensive, and the traditional mold manufacturing leads to a high scrap rate, 3D printing has a cost advantage.
3) Add more functionality to the end product
In general, the special metallurgical way of 3D printing can improve the microstructure of the metal and produce completely dense of printing parts, which have the same mechanical and physical properties than those of forged or cast materials (depending on heat treatment and test direction). Additive manufacturing brings engineers unlimited choices to improve mold design. When the target assembly is composed of several subassemblies, 3D printing has the ability to integrate the design and reduce the number of components, which simplifies the assembly process of product and reduces tolerances.
If it is manufactured with traditional technology, the channel guiding the cooling material is usually straight. And it will be an uneven cooling effect in the molded parts. However, 3D printing can realize the cooling channel of any shape, so as to ensure the even cooling, which is more optimized, realizing higher quality parts and lower scrap rate.
4) Optimize tools for promoting performance
3D printing can satisfy the needs that can not be met in the manufacturing process so that more mobile and fixed clamps can be invested in the manufacturing process. Traditionally, because of the considerable cost and effort required to redesign and manufacture them, the design of tools and corresponding devices always takes a long time. With the application of 3D printing technology, enterprises can renovate any tool at any time, not only those tools that have been scrapped and do not meet the requirements.
5) Customized mold can help to realize customization of products
The ability to shorten the production cycle, manufacture more complex geometry and reduce the final manufacturing cost enables enterprises to manufacture a large number of personalized tools to support the manufacturing of customized parts. 3D printing mold is very conducive to customized products, such as medical equipment and medical industry. It can provide surgeons with personalized 3D printing devices, such as surgical guides and tools, so that they can improve the operation effect and reduce operation time.
We all believe that the 3D printer will be one of the important technologies in molding manufacturing in the future. And we also recommend two printers(CR-10 and CR-5 pro) for mold manufacturing.
Creality provides one-stop molding 3D printer solution, which includes machine customizing, model design, and printing training. If you are an engineer, or factory who wants to try the future molding method, Creality is here to help you. Contact us for your exclusive solution today!