Manufacturers have long associated fast tooling with mass production, durable stamping for steel machining, and significant capital investment. They ignore the fact that plastic injection molding is ideal for producing a variety of complex plastic parts and can benefit OEMs in many different industries. However, with the development of prototyping technology, rapid injection molding rightfully claims its place among the most important prototyping techniques. The rapid injection molding process is technically the same as conventional injection molding, the main difference being how the tooling is made.
Molds for rapid injection molding use different materials. In traditional processes the goal is to make the molds as durable as possible, so they are made of hardened steel, which is really cumbersome for the machine. Rapid injection molding is used for small runs so softer materials can be used. A broad choice is aircraft-grade aluminum alloys. They are similar in strength to steel, but they are much easier to machine and polish. This reduces machining time by 30% and polishing time by a factor of 2 to 5.
Rapid injection molding molds can be redesigned more easily. Molds used for mass production injection molding are robust because fewer joints mean higher precision and longer life. The prototyping process can sacrifice a little precision for better flexibility, which is why the cavity is made as a separate part from the mold base. This way, if you need to make adjustments, you just remove the cavity and the rest remains the same.
Rapid injection molding uses less automation than traditional rapid injection molding, which means it takes less time to design, manufacture and fine-tune tooling. The traditional rapid injection molding process uses a large number of automotive ejectors, loads and other auxiliary mechanisms to further improve its performance. However, prototyping is not about cutting time for each production part, it is about cutting preparation time. So if we replace the car mechanism with a manually installed mechanism, we can save a lot of time when making the injection system. All the points mentioned lead to a huge reduction in prototyping time. For the customer, this means that he can get the part via rapid injection molding in 2 to 5 weeks, compared to 2 to 5 months with conventional injection molding.