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FDM for Composite Tooling

3D printed molds and mandrels in a fraction of the time

Whether the application requires reusable layup mold tooling or sacrificial tooling for complex, trapped-tool geometries, FDM Technology simplifies the fabrication of composite parts while providing unparalleled design freedom. High temperature, cost effective tools can be produced in days, compared to the weeks or even months required for traditional tooling.

Composite Mold Tooling

High-temperature, cost effective tooling in days, not months

The use of FDM for composite tooling has demonstrated considerable cost and lead time reductions while providing greater design freedom and more rapid iteration, regardless of part complexity. These advantages, combined with materials capable of withstanding the common high-temperature, high-pressure cure cycle requirements found in industries such as aerospace, provide disruptive value to composite part manufacturers and enable innovation.

Benefits

Traditional mold tooling requires significant labor and machining, leading to high costs, waste, and long lead times spanning from weeks to many months for larger, more complex tools. Such lead times can pace entire development programs and prevent design optimization. Resulting tools are heavy and difficult to handle and store. FDM for composite tooling addresses all of these issues:

Reduce cost and lead time: build tools in days versus weeks to months for traditional tooling at a fraction of the cost – greater than 90% cost savings versus traditional tooling has been demonstrated.

Reduce labor, machining, and waste: reduce or eliminate touch labor and machining with direct printing of the final mold tooling.

Respond quickly to fluctuation in demand: transition from pre-production parts to production in days with a digital inventory of tool designs ready for build.

Produce functional designs: tailor tool designs specifically to the application versus a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

Transform shop operations: deliver custom tools on demand with designs that can completely change how tools are handled and managed on the shop floor.

Sacrificial Tooling

Simplify the creation of complex composite parts with 3D printing

Sacrificial tooling produced with FDM Technology simplifies the production of complex and hollow composite parts. Tools can be 3D printed and easily dissolved after curing, eliminating ancillary processes like mold making, while accelerating the product development cycle.

Benefits

For complex composite part shapes, the practical need to remove lay-up tools after curing puts significant geometric constraints on design and prevents parts from being fully optimized for the application. Whether the tooling will be washed out, broken away or deflated, the fabrication of master molds and patterns adds weeks to production, along with costs that escalate with size and complexity.

FDM for sacrificial tooling changes what’s possible for composite part manufacturers with materials engineered and tested for composites manufacturing:

Go from design to finished tools in days instead of months by eliminating slow, expensive fabrication processes.

Build strong and dimensionally stable tooling that can withstand rough handling during part fabrication and autoclave processing.

Design and produce complex, hollow parts with soluble materials developed specifically for sacrificial tooling without sacrificing productivity, performance, or quality.

Improve control, accuracy and finish of critical surfaces with male sacrificial tools that can be easily dissolved in a detergent solution after cure.

Fortus 900mc Acceleration Kit – for Rapid Production of Composite Tooling

Producing the large composite parts and associated tooling typically used in aerospace, automotive and similar applications can take several weeks to many months for fabrication. To reduce production time and costs, Stratasys has developed the Fortus 900mc Acceleration Kit. This new solution allows large tools to be produced in ASA and ULTEM 1010 materials up to three times faster than previously possible.