Additive Manufacturing

NOV 2018

ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING is the magazine devoted to industrial applications of 3D printing and digital layering technology. We cover the promise and the challenges of this technology for making functional tooling and end-use production parts.

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Page 67 of 75

NOVEMBER 2018 Additive Manufacturing FEATURE / 3D-Printed Tooling 66 used to carry heat away. The final 3D-printed mold was produced in about two weeks. The tool helped shorten the cycle time per part by 40 percent with conformal cooling channels, and as a re- sult reduced the number of inserts the molder needed from eight to six. Part quality improved as well. "The tool we came up with is not a tool anybody would come up with just because they know 3D printing," Stafford says. "You also need to understand plastic injection molding." Success with Innovation Catalysis recently established an Advanced Manufacturing Center where it tests prototype tooling for thermoforming, injection molding and casting, including tools made with new and emerg- ing technologies. Experiments don't always go as planned, but that's part of the strategy. "Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't," Stafford says. "We never fail, but we always learn." One of the unusual solutions Catalysis has developed is sand 3D-printed tooling for vacuum forming, a type of thermoforming. Plastic sheets are heated up to 350°F then sucked onto the tool and allowed to set for several minutes. To create tooling that can withstand this process, Catalysis relies on binder jetting. Tools are 3D-printed from silica sand then infiltrated with a proprietary, UV-curable resin for durability. The resin-infiltrated sand remains porous enough to vacuum form parts with a rough finish such as the SmokeTech panel shown on page 68; for smoother parts, Catalysis treats the tool with a proprietary coating and drills holes through it to enable suction (see the orange tool on page 69). Sand 3D-printed tools offer time and cost savings over con- ventional tooling while also opening up design possibilities. Experimenting with unusual solutions helps Catalysis add to its 3D printing knowledge while also growing its network of tooling and manufacturing partners. Indeed, if Catalysis can get that network wide enough, it can turn the winding road of the supply chain into an expressway. Return for a moment to the OEM at the beginning of this story. What might an alterna- tive supply chain look like? The OEM could turn to a company like Catalysis as early as the design process. That agent could handle prototyping; collaborate with partners to create the best tooling for the part and process; and have the parts manufac- tured on a flexible scale through partners. From the OEM's perspective, design changes are easy to implement, and parts arrive faster and at lower cost. Those parts are also likely to be of better quality, as the result of tooling innovations and collaboration throughout the processes. Catalysis's particular brand of supply chain management aided by 3D-printed tooling and strategic partners could be the fast track to market. Follow the Advance of Manufacturing's Future A PROPERT Y OF: SUBSCRIBE CONNECT TRANSFORM

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