3D printed molds, what’s the use? | 3D Hubs

(pdf) edm electrode manufacture using rapid tooling: a review

metal shell is a further problem. For epoxy materials,

thermal disengagement could distort the copper shell, thus

it is to be applied after the back filling process. This causes

problems too. The most common procedure is to preheat

the copper shell and use a low melting alloy material as

backfiller, and then to remove the mandrel by heating.

Even if the above is taken into account, the uneven copper

shell thickness causes premature wear to this kind of

electrode too.

In addition to the above problems, the ‘stair stepping’

problem must be considered for complex electrodes.

Experimental investigations have shown that under strict

conditions simple shaped metal shell electrodes can com-

pared to conventional electrodes. Also, electroformed

electrodes seem to have better performance on rough EDM

and electroplated ones on finishing applications.

The potential of using other RP techniques to produce

RT electrodes has been investigated too. Even though some

of them give faster prototypes than SLA, the dimensional

accuracy and surface roughness of these processes are not

appropriate for EDM. Nevertheless, if these processes are

chosen to be used for RT electrode fabrication, some

modifications of the above-mentioned procedures mustbe

made. For example in this case it is better to apply the first

metallization by brushing or spraying.

Soft tooling of RP patterns could also be an alternative

to produce more than one similar electrode for sequential


On the other hand, direct metal electrodes whichare

produced by RP techniques [3,5559] demonstrate the

same disadvantages; poor surface roughness and dimen-

sional accuracy.

DLMS and IMLS seem to give the most accuratepro-

totypes. Thus, these techniques were tested for metal tools

and final parts.

Simple shaped electrodes were fabricated and tested in

several EDM applications such as roughing, semi-roughing

and finishing.

The results have been disappointing until now for

industrial production of RT electrodes. But investigations

of MMC selective laser sintering electrodes were promis-

ing indicating that if the RP part final quality is improved

then MMC electrodes will give a better EDM performance.

DMLS also promises better material powder systems that

will overcome porosity and uncontrolled shrinkage issues.

Until now infiltration or electroplating of copper on RP

metal parts has not given the appropriate quality for

industrial use either.

Finally, cast made electrodes do not meet the specifi-

cations of EDM yet. The development of an appropriate S/

W, which will manipulate an STL file of an RP pattern for

EDM use, is needed. This S/W will incorporate features

like scaling, cutting, joining, etc., of the STLpart taking

into account the EDM specifications. Also, it must produce

the technological program for CNC finishing automati-

cally. These programs will be useful for other RT electrode

methods too.

Although variations of RT electrodes were developed

and research was performed extensively, until now the

results of RT electrode performance have shown that they

do not meet the desirable standards for use as an alternative

to conventional CNC or high speed machining (HSM)

milling electrodes.

RP techniques need improvement and redesign as

manufacturing processes rather than as prototyping pro-

cesses. Also, the mechanical properties of RP available

materials must be investigated more extensively and the

material systems must be expanded.


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(pdf) rapid tooling manufacturability evaluation using fuzzy-ahp methodology


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(pdf) study of the wear behaviour of conventional and rapid tooling mould materials

PMI 2005

Study of the wear behaviour of conventional and rapid tooling mould materials A.Voet


Fig. 16. pin on disk test

Very little wear is noticed on the sintered

inserts of Laserform ST-100 after 50.000 shots

even with the very aggressive PA6 GF30 product

material. This is a very important conclusion

because this means that Laserform ST-100 is

suitable to produce pre-series of 50.000 shots and


Directsteel 20V1 produced by direct metal

laser sintering (DMLS), is less wear resistant as

the bronze impregnated Laserform ST-100 (SLS).

After a closer inspection the wear seemed to be

caused by extraction of grains from the moulding



Wear, Conventional mould materials, Rapid

tooling materials, Selective Laser Sintering, Direct

Metal Laser Sintering, Aluminium, Tool steel


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the Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium, pp. 366-



3Future Developments

RP is starting to change the way companies design and build products. There are several developments that improve manufacturing. One such improvement is increased speed [90]. RP machines are still slow by some standards. By using faster computers, more complex control systems, and improved materials, RP manufacturers are dramatically reducing build time.

For example, Stratasys (since January 1998) has introduced FDM Quantum machine, which can produce ABS plastic models 2.5–5 times faster than previous FDM machines. Continued reductions in build time make it possible rapid manufacturing economical for a wider variety of products.


Kevin Klotz who works in Quality Assurance at MGS describes the challenges they face when creating molds at MGS, «The challenge we face is formidable. We strive to produce rapid tooling that makes it possible to mold parts in the actual molding material of our customer’s choice, quickly and at lower total cost.

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