Stratasys has released a new 3D printing solution for composite tooling, introducing composites manufacturers to new operational efficiencies, greater design freedom and faster time to market.
According to Stratasys, 3D printed sacrificial tooling, or more specifically 3D printed moulds and mandrels, enable manufacturers to rapidly and cost-effectively create complex composite parts with geometries that would normally trap the tool. To further improve the process, Stratasys is introducing an innovative sacrificial tooling solution. It features Stratasys’ new ST-130 material along with alternative fill patterns (patent pending) designed for faster dissolution, rapid build speed, and greatly improved tool quality and autoclave performance.
“Stratasys produced composite tools allows us to develop the same types of products much faster without compromising quality or performance of the part,” said Rick Heise, President, Swift Engineering.
The new ST-130 material is available for the Stratasys Fortus 450mc and 900mc Production 3D Printers.
Stratasys explains that, traditional manufacturing methods for high-performance, polymer matrix composite structures require the use of hard tooling for the mould or mandrel that dictates the final part shape. Whether made from metal or specialty non-metallic materials, fabricating this tooling requires significant labor and machining resources – leading to high costs, waste, and long lead times sometimes stretching into many months for more complex tools.
In contrast, Stratasys says its 3D printed composite tooling using ULTEM 1010 enables manufacturers to produce high temperature (>350°F), autoclave cured composite structures in a fraction of the of time need for traditional tooling, while also achieving cost savings.
To immediately capitalise on these advantages, Stratasys has launched a comprehensive Design Guide that will provide essential data and guidance for 3D printed composite tooling. Tim Schniepp, Composite Tooling Director, Stratasys presented an overview of the Guide at SAMPE with a technical paper entitled ‘Design Guide Development for Additive Manufacturing of Composite Tooling’.
“We developed the Design Guide to provide our customers with the ability to immediately realise the time and cost-saving benefits of FDM-based 3D printed composite tooling without the effort and expense required to develop the knowledge independently. This allows Stratasys users to better leverage their time and resources in addressing their manufacturing challenges,” said Schniepp.
Producing the large composite parts and associated tooling typically used in aerospace, automotive and other demanding 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 very large tools to be produced up to three times faster in ASA and ULTEM 1010 materials.