Rapid mould tool inserts for plastic injection mouldng
The costs of mould tools for plastic injection moulding can vary greatly, depending on factors such as size, complexity, number of cavities, materials and operating life.
Similarly, lead times can range from a few weeks to several months, and are driven by the factors above, as well as the need for tool design, the existence – or otherwise – of technical drawings or CAD files, the need for prototyping and the nature of any design revisions.
In many instances, injection moulding companies don’t need to create an entire new mould tool, as their customers may be looking for a slight modification to an existing part, or have a new product that can be moulded using an existing tool with adapted tool cores or inserts.
Even in this situation, however, lead times and costs can still be an issue, primarily as a result of the engineering processes to produce the new insert. Typically, these are either electro-discharge machining (EDM) or CMC milling and grinding. Both are relatively slow and, in the case of milling and grinding, are destructive processes, producing a large proportion of waste material.
The advent of 3D laser printing has transformed this situation, with the latest 3D additive manufacturing systems being able to produce parts in a wide range of advanced metals, including stainless steel, Inconel and Maraging tool steel.
Although there are many 3D printing service companies around the world, few have expertise in the design and production of tool cores and inserts for plastic injection moulding, or the specialised knowledge of mould tool materials, cooling and gas flows.
That’s where we step in.
3D printing of mould tool inserts
With our investment in hybrid metal additive manufacturing technology, backed by over 50 years of experience as a specialised injection moulding company, we are able to manufacture injection mould tool inserts and core within a matter of days and ship them anywhere around the world.
We can work with your existing technical drawings or CAD files, in all common formats including step, iges, stl and sldprt, or can work with your team to design each mould tool insert.
We can then 3D laser sinter a complete mould tool insert onto a standard or custom engineering base. Our hybrid metal additive manufacturing systems allows all insert finishing to be carried out as each part is grown, which significantly reduces costs and production times.
As most injection mould tool inserts are relatively lightweight it is easy to ship these direct to your tool maker or in-house toolmaking department using a standard delivery service.
It’s a fast and efficient process that helps you reduce injection moulding lead times and costs, getting you into production as quickly as possible.
We can also engineer specialised mould tool inserts, with true conformal cooling channels and features such as gas venting, to improve the quality of finished injection moulded parts and increase cycle speeds.