Rapid Tooling Services
Rapid tooling or prototype tooling is a form of rapid prototyping that involves creating a mold instead of a part. Once the mold has been created with the rapid tooling process, it can be utilized as part of a molding process to create multiple copies of a part. Rapid tooling is used to create molds in a shortened timeline.
The team at 3ERP is well-equipped to handle your rapid tooling requirements.
The Rapid Tooling Process
The rapid tooling process involves the creation of a mold using aluminum or soft steel, a stocked mold base, and hand-load inserts. Rapid tooling is ideal for small batch orders meant for use in marketing samples, product evaluations, and process design.
Traditional tooling is often prohibitively expensive for small projects. Our custom rapid tooling service offers a cost-effective, low-volume alternative in situations where large volumes of the part won’t be needed in the future. The rapid production tooling process is commonly used in industrial settings for prototyping or for diagnosing design issues.
At 3ERP, we typically create rapid molds using our advanced CNC machine equipment, though we also sometimes use additive processes such as 3D printing.
Benefits of Rapid Prototyping
Rapid production tooling offers a number of advantages over other forms of prototype production:
- Fast processing: Prototype tooling offers quick results, so the transition between development and production is very short.
- Customization: The rapid tooling process still allows for advanced customization of the mold.
- Proof of concept/testing: Rapid prototyping facilitates practical real-world design testing and troubleshooting. It also enables quick and precise production of new tooling that implements design changes and improvements.
- Speed to market: Fast production and accurate molds contribute to efficiency in production, ultimately sending products to the market faster.
- Competitive pricing: The affordability of the rapid tooling process translates into a positive impact on the bottom line for our customers.
Types of Rapid Prototyping - 3ERP uses two rapid tooling processes:
Aluminum Mold Tooling
An ideal choice for prototyping, aluminum mold tooling provides a cost-effective way to produce molded parts. Since they are easy to cut, aluminum molds can reduce tooling costs by 15–25% compared to other mold materials and reduce cycle times by up to 40%. This translates to a faster turnaround for our customers.
Aluminum evenly dissipates heat, which provides dimensional stability in tooling. This significantly reduces deformation and produces less waste during the production process. It is important to note that aluminum is not as strong as steel, so it has a shorter life cycle and is less useful in high-volume processes.
Steel Mold Tooling
Steel is a sturdy, high-quality tooling material, though it is not suitable for all applications. Steel molds have a longer life cycle than aluminum, and are therefore ideal for high-volume production. Steel can also be used to produce molds from engineering-grade plastics that are resistant to abrasion and corrosion.
Though it features multiple benefits, steel is a more expensive tooling material than aluminum and requires more turnaround time to produce molds and prototypes.
Customer Satisfaction is Our Goal
Can you imagine attempting to make prototype tools for over 30 components in just two months? Our customer desperately needed 200-300 sets of tail lights for testing, but mass production tools wouldn’t have been ready for eight months. They needed a solution to get good quality moldings by their deadline and at a much lower cost than production tools.
For this tail light project, we needed to fabricate a housing, reflector, light guide, bezel, an outer lens, and other components in a short period of time. The overall assembly size was about 600 x 400 x 150 mm, which is relatively large and the customer wanted to test real materials. In this case, 3D printing, CNC machining, and vacuum casting were not suitable, so prototype molding was the only option. Click to view this case
Rapid Tooling Services from 3ERP
At 3ERP, we are pleased to provide superior rapid tooling services at highly competitive prices. Our services include both rapid aluminum tooling and steel tooling to support short production runs or high-volume runs. For more information on our custom rapid tooling prototypes, please contact us today.