3D Printing is Solidly in Moldmaking’s Future
Francine Petrucci, president of B A Die Mold Inc., calls 3D printing the elephant in the shop because its time is imminent and young people know it.
Additive manufacturing is the proverbial elephant in the shop. We all know it’s coming, and some industry friends have been fortunate to work with 3D printing processes like conformal cooling or printing cavities and cores for short run rapid prototypes. At B A Die Mold Inc., we are very interested in the new technology and have been researching it for some time. We have been waiting for the right project and the right customer — not an easy score!
Because many of the additive processes are cost prohibitive, and selling a mold is extremely cost competitive, our hunt continues for a customer who is perhaps looking for a competitive edge on an existing tool or product. This scenario would allow us to build a stack that could be tested in their existing tool to prove out the benefits of increased cooling and faster cycle times. Another scenario we envision would be, of course, complicated geometry. We design and manufacture a great number of molds for complex parts. Some can be especially challenging, and printing some of the components could be a saving grace by helping us to land an otherwise “impossible” project.
It is an exciting chapter that is emerging in our mold manufacturing world, and we must embrace it when the opportunity is ripe. In fact, the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) Chicago Chapter’s education committee recently committed to purchasing a 3D printer for its career booth. We already invested in a small, tabletop CNC mill and believe the 3D printer can be incorporated into our display to really draw students to our booth (they often mistake the tabletop CNC for a 3D printer already!). We will be demonstrating additive manufacturing (the printer) and subtractive (the mill), as well as creating mating parts between the two machines to teach students how the two technologies can complement each other in the manufacturing process. We all know the technology is blooming, so it is best to rope the next generation in right from the get-go!
For More Information
Francine Petrucci, President
B A Die Mold Inc.
3685 Prairie Lake Court
Aurora, Illinois 60504