3D printing is an important technology in mold manufacturing now and in the future. Molds are conventionally made from steel or Aluminum using CNC machining. The cost of these molds also known as master patterns represented a large portion of any production run. In the case of low-volume components, the injection molding solution was not viable. 3D manufacturing solved this issue by providing the appropriate materials and processes to print high-precision molds.
Casting molds can be used to produce Silicone or urethane parts either for prototyping or low volume production parts. In addition, printed parts can be over-molded with urethane in a variety of shore hardness’s. Bridge tooling is also a common application of molding preparing for the conventional high-cost injection molding.
Some of the applications that benefit from 3D printing
- Automotive assembly nests for class “A” surfaces
- Custom Gaskets
- Soft buttons for Electronics
- Soft or rigid tooling