Molding process with 3D printed tooling

Alpine Advanced Materials has developed an injection molding process using 3D printed tools that it says is quicker and cheaper than similar technologies.

Rapid prototype molding (RPM) uses resin from Denmark-based Addifab and Nexa3D printers to additively manufacture a tool cavity injection mold, a negative of the designed part, then create the prototype using the mold. Once produced, the mold is dissolved away, leaving an injection molded prototype which has fiber alignment for strength but without the surface finish issues of 3D printing, Alpine said. Additionally, with separable components, RPM allows for two-part tools that can be used repeatedly for low volumes equivalent to that of a standard steel tool.

“The clients we work with whose parts must meet various certifications […] need to have a ‘real’ part to test against their real-world challenges,” said David Brantner, CEO. “RPM facilitates that by getting testable parts into the field quickly.”

According to Carsten Jarfelt, chief commercial officer at Addifab in the USA, “Our technology supports product development with economical prototype tooling, cutting an average of 85 percent off the price a first functional component, and can make it faster than ever before.”