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3D printed injection mould for a diaphragm being removed from the Stratasys Objet350 Connex Multi-material 3D Printer
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3D printed mould makes Whale of a saving for manufacturer
A manufacturer of water and heating systems for mobile applications says it has “slashed” its lead times for the production of injection mould tools for prototype parts by up to 97 percent since introducing Stratasys 3D printing into its tooling process.
Whale, based in Bangor, Northern Ireland, says it is 3D printing injection mould tools in less than 24 hours using an Objet350 Connex Multi-material 3D Printer, at a fraction of the cost of producing metal tools.
“Traditionally, our lead times for metal tools were somewhere between four to five weeks and came with significant production costs,” said Jim Sargent, 3D Technical Services at Whale.
“As a result, our R&D process was very time-consuming and fundamentally slowed down the launch of new products. With our Objet Connex 3D Printer, we are now able to design our tools during the day, 3D print them overnight and test them the next morning with a range of end-product materials. The time and cost savings associated with this new tooling method are significant.”
The injection mould tools are 3D printed using Stratasys’ Digital ABS material, which features material properties that make it ideal for low volume part production, such as high temperature resistance and toughness. Whale also offers its ‘Rapid Prototyping Service’ to external customers, including automotive and aerospace industries, producing 3D printed multi-material parts and tools using plastics such as polypropylene and polypropylene glass-filled.
“Looking into the future, 3D printing is hugely revolutionary in terms of how we are going to operate as a business,” explained Patrick Hurst, Managing Director at Whale. “We have already seen the technology take months off our product development process and that in turn minimises risk. In fact, I estimate that we’ve shortened our R&D process by up to 35 percent with Stratasys 3D printing solutions. Add that on top of the 20 percent we’re already saving in terms of our design work – well for me, it’s fantastic.”
Nadav Sella, Solutions Sales Manager at Stratasys commented: “We are seeing an increasing number of customers exploring the potential that 3D printed injection mould tools offers. In addition to the dramatic cost and time saving potential, our Digital ABS tools enable companies to produce parts in the real end-product material, ready to test even in the prototyping phase. Our customers can therefore make quicker test iterations and bring products to market faster.”