There has been a lot of talk about additive manufacturing (AM), aka 3D printing, especially during the past two years. And although some may call it hype, that hype has propelled this technology into the spotlight—initially for industrial design, and now for consumer and production applications. It is these latter two that affect your world—actual technologies and applications for the manufacture of functional parts, including end-use components and industrial tooling. Technology and service providers invested in this industry have taken the hype and brought it to practicality, enticing many naysayers to make the investment.
MoldMaking Technology has covered AM since the mid-1990s when its focus was rapid prototyping, and today, along with sister publication Modern Machine Shop, it publishes an Additive Manufacturing supplement (additivemanufacturinginsight.com) that covers practical, real-world applications.
The past year was full of exciting AM industry news and advancements sure to affect today’s mold manufacturer, so if you haven’t already, now is the time to pay attention. Here are a few recent advances and practical applications shared with MMT by leading AM technology developers that demonstrate AM’s potential in your marketplace:
- 3D cooling channels incorporated into molds in a single setup, which increases cooling efficiency and enables high-cycle injection molding.
- 3D printing of a mold followed by injection of a few parts from the actual product material, which can reduce lead times and costs, and allow for more testing and design changes before the manufacturer invests in metal tools.
- Sand molds and cores created in a few days using 3D printing, making iterations much less expensive and much faster to produce than with conventional casting methods.
- Hybrid machine tool technology that combines the advantages of five-axis milling, such as high accuracy and surface finish, with the flexibility and high build-up rate of laser powder deposition.
- Mold and dies with very complex geometries fabricated in one piece and with high accuracy on a hybrid laser sintering/milling machine.
- Metal end-use parts and tooling inserts created quickly and directly.
- The availability of an increasing number of metal materials, and material developments in tool steel and titanium.
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Check out our Additive Manufacturing supplement to read about the above applications and to stay on top of this growing industry. You can read current and past issues in our digital library and subscribe online at additivemanufacturinginsight.com.