Rapid tooling is one of the many services offered at Firstpart Manufacturing Services. Simply put, rapid tooling is a specialized tool making process that allows for the quick production of mold parts by combining conventional tooling techniques with digital manufacturing solutions.
Where budget, leadtimes, or both become a challenge for any business, rapid tooling solutions are usually employed to meet tight deadlines or workaround competitive budgets. It helps streamline low-volume or quick prototyping demands by using alternative materials to make mold parts that will only produce some hundreds or thousands of parts.
How Does It Work?
The rapid tooling process uses a digital computer-aided-design (CAD) file and techniques like 3D printing or CNC machine to quickly fabricate mold parts from more inexpensive materials like aluminum. Rapid tooling uses the same mold base to make many cavities and inserts to reduce time and lower cost. Because of the use of aluminum and other cost-saving materials, these molds, which are referred to as prototype or low-volume molds, will have a shorter lifespan. Rapid tooling molds typically make no more than 100,000 units of a part.
When put side by side with standard or conventional tooling, rapid tooling can achieve up to 50 percent of the project cost and 60 percent of the project leadtime. While the extent of cost savings and leadtime acceleration depends on the project’s complexity, these cost and time savings may determine who wins specific markets and stays ahead of the competition.
Popular Applications of Rapid Tooling
· Rapid prototyping
Rapid tooling can be used in making molds that will produce quick parts for design validation, quick prototyping, and concept testing. Rapid prototyping with rapid tooling is usually achieved with CNC machining and 3D printing.
· Low-volume production
Aluminum is used in rapid tooling to make molds that will serve low-volume purposes. When looking to make 100 to 1000 pieces, rapid tooling is usually considered for its lowered cost and faster leadtimes. Therefore, rapid tooling is indirectly applied for making parts for quick market-entry, market exhibition, pilot, and functional testing before production-grade molds are made.
· Mold making
Rapid tooling is directly used to make low-cost mold cores and cavities for budget-friendly and slim budget requirements. Low-cost mold tooling made with rapid tooling will usually make up to 100,000 parts depending on the material grade, tool maintenance, and design complexity.
What are the benefits of Rapid Tooling
· Cost and Leadtime
Rapid tooling helps to lower the cost of fabricating and prototyping your parts by up to 50 percent. When quick market entry remains crucial, rapid tooling can help you build, test, and launch early iterations of your product into the market to capture a market segment and grow your community of early adopters.
· Risk mitigation and feasibility studies
Because of the limitations in the number of shots that rapid tooling molds can make, every product cycle must make production molds. Rapid tooling serves as a bridge between the initial prototype and final part, helping you make parts for design validation, functional runs, pilot testing, and more before making significant investments in the expensive production tooling.
· Business profit
In the early days of your product, every opportunity for cost-saving matters. With rapid tooling, you can ultimately lower the cost per part for your project and increase your product’s profit.
· Design freedom
Rapid tooling uses a digital manufacturing plus conventional tooling concept. On the digital side, designers are afforded more freedom, making it possible to make three-dimensional parts with complex shapes, geometries, and tight tolerances.
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Avoid costly downtimes and ensure product availability with our rapid tooling options that uses digital manufacturing and affordable metals to make tooling, cores, and cavities for low-volume manufacturing.