Only in the mold production cycle, 3D printing technology has already had a certain impact on traditional mold manufacturing. However, industry experts said that although 3D printing technology has many advantages such as short production cycle, convenient raw materials, uniform product pressure, etc., 3D printing technology cannot completely replace the traditional mold manufacturing method. This is because 3D printing technology still has There are some problems.
For example, 3D printing technology is to obtain products layer by layer. Although this will shorten the production cycle of the mold, it will also cause a step surface effect on the mold surface. Similar problems exist with direct-printed molds, which require machining or sandblasting to eliminate these tiny, toothed edges. In addition, holes smaller than 1mm must be drilled, larger holes need to be reamed or drilled, and thread features need to be tapped or milled. These secondary treatments have greatly weakened the speed advantage of 3D printing molds.
At the same time, in order to ensure good material flow properties, the injection mold needs to be heated to a very high temperature. Aluminum molds and steel molds typically experience 500F (260 ° C) or higher temperatures, especially when processing high-temperature plastics such as PEEK and PEI materials. It is easy to produce thousands of parts with metal molds, and it can also be used as a transition mold before the final mass production mold is out. The mold materials manufactured using 3D printing technology are generally photosensitive or thermosetting resins, which are cured by ultraviolet light or laser. Although these plastic molds are relatively hard, they break very quickly under the thermal cycling conditions of injection molding. In fact, in mild environments, 3D printing molds usually fail within 100 times of use, and high temperature plastics such as polyethylene and or styrene. For glass-filled polycarbonate and high-temperature plastics, only a few parts can be produced.
In addition, a major reason for using 3D printed molds is their low cost. The cost of production-grade machining dies is generally $ 20,000 or more, which means that it is comparable to $ 1,000 printing dies. However, this analogy is not fair. The evaluation of printed mold prototypes usually only considers material consumption, and does not consider labor, assembly and installation, spray systems and hardware. For example, ProtoLabsd’s aluminum molds cost $ 1,500 for production. If you need to produce more parts and use 3D printing molds, you need to reprint and assemble the machine to test new molds for every 50-100 products produced. On the other hand, irrespective of the plastic used, aluminum molds usually still perform well after producing 10,000 parts. Therefore, in terms of production costs, 3D printing is no more cost-effective than traditional mold manufacturing methods.