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03-24-2014

3-D Printed Injection Molds

60 Shots and That Is It

Additive manufacturing versus CNC processing: 3-D printed injection mold and injection molded component plus a steel mold of the same build (figure: Stratasys)

Additive manufacturing versus CNC processing: 3-D printed injection mold and injection molded component plus a steel mold of the same build (figure: Stratasys)

Companies all over the world are looking for ways to make production processes more efficient, when introducing a new product to the market. A growing number of them are getting aware of the various benefits included in additive manufacturing and 3-D printing. There are several applications of this technique becoming more and more popular, and one of them is 3-D printed injection molds – not only for the purpose of testing the design of components prior to serial production, but even for manufacturing plastics parts with an individual design.

An application at Robert Seuffer GmbH & Co. KG in Calw, Germany, may serve as an example here. A supplier of components and assembly groups for household devices, passenger cars and utility vehicles, the company is using the 3-D printing systems of Stratasys Ltd., Minneapolis, MN/USA, thus reducing considerably the time and expenses involved in the production of injection molded models. “In automotive engineering, prototypes have to be tested with movable mechanical components, and at high temperatures”, explains Andreas Buchholz, head of research and development at Seuffer.

The specialists of the family-run business can design a new injection mold for prototypes or small series within only a few days. Then it takes the Stratasys 3-D printer less than 24 hours to print the parts from a material similar to ABS – immediately followed by component production and testing. “If we used the conventional CNC technique, it would take us eight weeks to make a metal mold. The expenses of a conventional mold are EUR 40,000, roughly, while the 3-D printed mold costs less than EUR 1,000. This corresponds to a 97 percent saving”, says Buchholz.

Additive manufacturing versus CNC processing: 3-D printed injection mold and injection molded component plus a steel mold of the same build (figure: Stratasys)

The process was on display at the Stratasys booth at the K 2013 trade show. A micro-injection molding unit produced little toy cars in a 3-D printed mold. After 60 shots, the mold was so worn out, it was unusable.

Moreover, Seuffer, at their booth, presented 3-D printed molds for hotmelt processing, generated by the Stratasys 3-D printing technique. These molds are printed from the rigid and non-transparent Vero materials by Stratasys, to serve for the overmolding of circuit pates with low melting point polyamide.

Company profile

Stratasys Inc.

14950 Martin Drive
EDEN PRAIRIE, MN 55344-2020
Tel.: +1 888 4803548

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