What Are The Advantages Of Making Molds With 3D Printing?
1. Mold production cycle shortened
3D printing molds shorten the entire product development cycle and become the source of drive innovation. In the past, companies sometimes chose to postpone or abandon design updates for new products, given the large capital investment required to create new molds.
By reducing mold preparation time and enabling existing design tools to be quickly updated, 3D printing enables companies to withstand more frequent replacement and improvement of molds. It enables the mold design cycle to keep pace with the new product design cycle.
In addition, some companies have purchased 3D printing equipment to manufacture molds, which further speeds up the development of new products and increases flexibility and adaptability. Strategically, it enhances the ability of supply chain defenses to extend deadlines and develop stagnation risks, such as obtaining inappropriate molds from suppliers.
2. Reduced manufacturing costs
If the cost of current metal 3D printing is higher than the cost of traditional metal manufacturing processes, the cost reduction is easier to achieve in the field of plastic products.
Metal 3D printed dies 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 specific geometries (optimized for 3D printing) More economic advantages. Especially when the materials used are very expensive, and the traditional mold manufacturing leads to a high material scrap rate, 3D printing has a cost advantage.
In addition, the ability of 3D printing to produce precision molds in a matter of hours can have a positive impact on manufacturing processes and profits, especially when production downtime and/or mold inventory is expensive.
Finally, it is sometimes the case that the mold is modified after the start of production. The flexibility of 3D printing allows engineers to experiment with countless iterations at the same time and reduce upfront costs due to mold design modifications.
3. Improvements in mold design add more functionality to the end product
In general, the special metallurgical methods of 3D printing improve the metal microstructure and produce fully dense printed parts that have the same mechanical or physical properties as those of forged or cast materials (depending on heat treatment and test direction).
Additive manufacturing offers engineers unlimited options to improve mold design. When the target part consists of several sub-parts, 3D printing has the ability to integrate design 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, enabling high-performance end products to be manufactured faster and with fewer product defects. For example, the overall quality 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 made using conventional techniques, the passage that directs the cooling medium is generally straight, resulting in a slower and uneven cooling effect in the mold.
And 3D printing can realize any shape of cooling water channel (ie, conformal cooling water channel) to ensure the conformal cooling, more optimized and uniform, and finally get higher quality plastic parts and lower scrap rate. In addition, the faster removal of mold heat can significantly reduce the cycle of injection molding because, in general, the cooling time can account for up to 70% of the entire injection molding cycle.
4. Optimized tools are more ergonomic and improve minimum performance
3D printing reduces the threshold for validating new tools that address unmet needs in the manufacturing process, enabling more mobile fixtures and fixtures to be built into the manufacturing process.
Traditionally, because of the considerable cost and effort required to redesign and manufacture them, the design of the tool and the corresponding device are always used for as long as possible. With the application of 3D printing technology, companies can refurbish any tool at any time, not just those 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 more economical to optimize tools for better marginal performance, so technicians can design ergonomics more to improve their operational comfort. Reduce processing time and make it easier to use and easy to store. Although this may only reduce the assembly operation time of a few seconds, it can’t stand up. In addition, optimizing the tool design can also reduce the scrap rate of parts.