Rapid prototyping for direct manufacture

2008-07-31T14:29:35Z (GMT) by Neil Hopkinson Phill M. Dickens
Advances in rapid prototyping and machining have resulted in reduced lead times for injection moulding tooling. Comparisons between aluminium and stereolithography (SL) tools are made with regard to the ejection forces required to push mouldings from the tools, heat transfer through the tools and the surface roughness of the tools. The results show that ejection forces for both types of tools are increased when a longer cooling time prior to ejection is used. The ejection forces required from a rough aluminium tool are considerably higher than those from a smooth aluminium tool. SL tools do not appear to be subjected to any smoothing as a result of moulding polypropylene parts, this is explained by the fact that the tool’s surface acts in a rubber like manner during part ejection. The rubber like nature of the tool’s surface is as a direct consequence of the low glass transition temperature and low thermal conductivity of the tool material. Further potential benefits of the low thermal properties of the tool are discussed.