The ever increasing demand for faster and economical tooling solutions has led to the development number of rapid tooling methods. The methods that do exist at this juncture can broadly be categorised in two sections. The first section of methods is those in which rapid prototyping patterns are used to produce the moulds. The other section of methods involves all the direct approaches, where rapid prototyping machine directly builds all the cores and cavities of the mould.
Production of silicon rubber moulds with RP methods
The process of rapid tooling is used extensively for the production of room temperature vulcanizing silicon rubber moulds, also called RTV moulds. Silicon is a very expensive material, but it is versatile, it can be used to produce a wide variety of moulds. The silicon is moulded according to the rapid prototype model and made a master pattern.
Once the master pattern is made, the pattern now goes through the process finishing, where it is given the desired appearance. And in the final process, the silicon rubber is to be cast around the pattern to form the mould. Silicon is also very useful in wax injection moulding process. Silicon cavities are tailor-made for low-pressure injection moulding.
At very low-pressure semi-molten was is to be subjected to silicon cavity until it gets entirely full. The cavity has to be left idle to cool down by itself, by the time silicon gets cold, the wax also gets solidified. After confirmation, the solid wax has to be removed from the cavity. Them the process is repeated. The process requires preciseness and extreme care, but if done properly the finishing it gives is unmatchable.
Emerging RT techniques
Looking at the market potential, there are so many companies are just pursuing the development of rapid tooling methods. After a good amount of testing, when they get convinced that their method is good enough to do the job, they try to market and commercialize those methods. So, it won’t be an exaggeration to say that there’s an alternative industry is developing. That in return will only help the core industry. All these techniques come with their own set strength and weaknesses.
When a company tries to develop a method, the company always has a niche solution in mind. So, no matter how productive a new method is, the method will definitely solve that niche problem. This way, these methods get enough when they come into the commercial market. The reason this alternative industry is also attracting good minds. Ultimately, it’s a blessing for the core industry, because these new players are not transgressing the business of the moulding industry, instead, help them. There’s great potential for both of these industries to grow together and grow faster.
As it is clear by now that those rapid tooling methods are going to solve many problems that the industry experts would never have thought, that the problems they are facing from years can be solved in this much amount of time.