21 May / 3D printing for mold manufacturing.
In out previous post After the peak, understanding 3dprinting, we analyzed how where is the value of 3D printing and how it’s affecting the manufacturing industry, the main conclusion there is that 3D printing is not a technique that competes with any mass production manufacturing process that are based on: injection, blow, compression, transfer or matrix molding, but a technique with high variability that allows to bring those techniques to small and medium production batches. This is, 3D printing can be a replacement on how we manufacture molds compared with CNC milling.
3D printing has three key advantages over CNC milling when manufacturing molds:
– Can create more complex parts geometrically speaking.
– It needs less human operation being easier to automate.
– Is a process that has less energy dissipation being more safe and suitable for non industrial environments being a safer process that also generates less pollution in terms of dust and noise.
Based on that we believe that using 3D printing for molds manufacturing can improve the product development cycles.
Talking about automation, 3D print allows to offer services for mold manufacturing and delivery, giving to the customers the possibility to start small batch productions, reducing the initial, the amount of units needed to fabricate the first batch definitely will offer lower risks for a company that starts a product development/production.
We also think that a key element is the software for generating the molds, this can be achieved for instance with a web service that allows the user to upload it’s designs. The web service allows the customer to visualize the result, the software in the server performs optimization operations to generate the mold minimizing the material needed for the fabrication, after that the user/customer receives by post the molds and all the necessary substances and tools for starting their own production in their workshop. The main advantage for the users of the service is that they can adapt dynamically their supply chain depending on the demand.
As 3d printing is developing more and more, we are seeing innovations that allows to produce objects faster and in different materials, as the additive technologies gets developed further on it will become a technique that starts to take on older technologies like CNC milling.
We are starting a practical research about injection molding web services, more news coming soon.