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Rapitool: Rapid and Economical Production Techniques for Prototypes and Short Runs Thermoplastic Injection Molds
Published October 31, 1994 by ISATA - Dusseldorf Trade Fair in United Kingdom
Event: ISATA 1994
To be able to utilize new management theories like Concurrent Engineering there is a strong need to be able to produce prototypes in small series in a short time in an economical way.
It is important to understand that the ideal prototype of an injection-molded part must be made of the same material and in a similar process to be equivalent to the final part. Hence there exists a need for an injection mold tool at an early stage in the development: before you have invested large amounts in the final tools.
A number of parameters influences the injection mold process. Materials may have different properties with respect to flow, cooling, etc. Different part designs result in different demands to tool and process parameters (temperature, pressure, etc.).
In injection molding the so-called "soft" molds are often required to provide limited quantities of qualifying and testing parts, totally identical to the production ones, but available, preferably, a long time before the production mold has been finalized.
Current Rapid Prototyping Technologies (RPT) have bolstered the use of conventional resin casting and low melting point metal spraying techniques to produce cavities for injection molding at 20% the costs and delays of machined tools.
These techniques, although likely to provide acceptable solutions for a large range of applications still display limitations as soon as the combination of geometrical complexity, processing conditions and required series becomes stringent.
Rapitool is a European-funded Brite project whose aims are to develop different technologies for cavities manufacturing in order to overcome these limitations. Since 1993, industrial and research partners from 6 different European countries have merged capabilities to develop 4 different cavity production techniques.