Future of Small Batch Injection Molding Production = 3D Printing + Mould?
In the past, the injection moulds were usually made of steel or aluminium materials, and were manufactured by reducing material technology, such as numerical control machine tools. Recently, more and more companies have tried to use more advanced 3D printing technology to simplify the process of mould making.
HASCO is a leading European manufacturing company for moulding services and moulds, and is considered to be the standard maker for European moulds. The company recently developed a Quick-Change Mold System, which enables injection molding manufacturers to quickly and effectively replace their moulds to reduce the time and cost of resetting their machines. In particular, mold printed by 3D printer of Stratasys makes the whole process cheaper. It can be faster and cheaper to prototype, produce samples, or produce in small batches at reasonable cost.
According to Dirk Paulmann, executive vice president of HASCO, customers are looking for solutions to enable them to deliver prototypes quickly, economically and efficiently as the product goes to market, the cycle is shorter and the quantity of production is smaller. Compared with copper metal or aluminium inserts, the new method can enable die manufacturers to achieve flexible and rapid production and exchange of moulds, achieving high efficiency and profitability. By combining HASCO's long-term experience in traditional mould manufacturing with Stratasys'advanced technology in 3D printing injection moulds, this technology satisfying both sides is the future of prototype and small batch production.
The injection moulds are printed by Objet500 Connex 3D printer of Stratasys and the moulds are made of the company's ultra-durable digital ABS materials. Objet500 Connex is not only one of the most advanced multi-material 3D printers on the market, but also a very fast printing machine. By printing the die in 3D instead of milling with aluminium, the time required to manufacture the die is greatly reduced, and the prototype and die can be adjusted quickly and economically. According to HASCO, when 3D printing moulds are combined with its K3500 Rapid Replacement Mould System, a new low-cost benchmark is set up for prototyping and small-volume injection moulding.
"The speed of the whole process is amazing. Using our Objet500 Connex 3D manufacturing system, we can produce cavity components for polymer moulding in six hours, which previously took 24 hours. Through the trial and test of standardized HASCO products and advanced Stratasys 3D printing technology, it has been proved that this innovative and fast technology can be applied in injection molding process. For the small batch prototype manufactured with the final product material, the rapid mold change with the aid of 3D printing cavity is a fast and economical alternative to the traditional method. " Paulmann confirmed.