Materials

3D Printed High Temperature and High Strength Parts for Jigs, Fixtures, and End Use Parts

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We are pleased to announce the newest addition to our advanced photopolymer materials portfolio – High temperature and strength (HTS) resin. HTS is ideal for a range of applications in tooling, jigs, fixtures, and end use parts.

HTS has an HDT of greater than 300 C at 0.45 MPa while maintaining 90 MPa in ultimate tensile strength. HTS demonstrates the advancements in material properties that filled resin systems can deliver. Additionally, HTS is a one-pot resin, eliminating the handling and pot life issues of 2 part resin systems. 

While many 3D printed photopolymers are great for applications where commodity, or even engineering grade plastics are needed, the industry lacks high throughput solutions (such as SLA/DLP) that can produce parts that match the characteristics of PEEK, Ultem, and other high performance plastics. 

A ceramic fiber filled resin with a Loctite base material, HTS rivals the material properties of GF Nylon, Vespel, and high performance plastics – while also taking advantage of 3D printing benefits including:

  • Low material cost
  • Low labor cost
  • Fast lead time
  • Design freedom without additional cost

HTS at its core is another alternative for anyone looking for high strength, high temperature part performance. In general, low volume machined Peek and Ultem parts are expensive, HTS offers an affordable alternative (some examples are 10X lower cost) and time to usable printed parts can be 1-2 days.

HTS compared to GFN

 

Written by Applications Engineer Craig Crossley

Recycled materials, up until recently, have been regarded as inferior, unusable and not worth the time. However, recent developments in regulations and technology have pushed recycling to the forefront of the plastics industry, with some very large players pledging to use recycled materials in all of their products. 

But how do you develop products with high recycling content? 

This is a key question that is going to rapidly make its way through engineering and product development teams over the next few years. While 3D printing direct prototypes is an excellent way to go through your first iteration of a product, there is no substitute for using the same material and process as your end product. Whether it is blow molding, thermoforming or injection molding, materials with high recycled content are going to behave differently and the only way to true verify your design is to prototype in the exact material, in the exact process. But before we dive into how to prototype your product with recycled plastic, let’s explore recycled materials.

Recycled materials come in three major form factors today: Post Consumer regrind, scrap regrind and bottle to bottle recycling

  • Post Consumer regrind (PCR) is largely made up of LDPE and HDPE and some other variations of the polyethylene family. Polypropylene and polystyrene both can be recycled well, however, the infrastructure around getting PCR for these materials is lacking. 
  • Scrap regrind comes on the manufacturing floor when products have a certain amount of allowable regrind, which generally comes from scrap parts, runners, and sprues. Lots of different plastics can be remelted and therefore “recycled”, dashing the myth that everything we use has to go directly to a landfill, however, the drawback is the loss in performance. When thermoplastics are remelted they lose molecular weight and exhibit a drop in mechanical performance plus the threat of contamination in the melt. 
  • Bottle to Bottle recycling is one of the more interesting ways to increase the use of recycled materials in product development. There are several different technologies that are able to take PET bottles: grind, melt, pelletize and churn out clean pellets, which are FDA approved, to make bottles again. 

With plastic waste on the rise, the need to reuse is going to drive the plastics industry’s new product development. The answer to that question above is simple, you need to prototype your product in the same process and material as your end product. Unfortunately the answer to that question brings up another, How? Aluminum tools take months and thousands of dollars with design constraints that make it impossible to implement early enough in the development cycle. That is an issue when using regular materials, and recycled plastic exacerbates this problem by its varied processing and mechanical properties, leading to a lot more testing early on in the process to verify designs. 

Fortify 3D printed mold tool

A solution to costly and slow procurement of aluminum tools is Fortify Digital Tooling (DT).

DT is a ceramic fiber reinforced photopolymer with an extremely high HDT, strength, and rigidity which translates to tooling such as injection molding, thermoforming, and blow molding. At lower costs and much higher speeds DT is an alternative to aluminum tooling which allows engineers to develop products in days instead of months.  Using polymer based mold inserts allows engineers and designers to test these recycled materials in their end use manufacturing process. Not only will this speed up the development cycle, but there is the opportunity to iterate in a cost effective manner if the recycled material of choice does not function as designed. DT is a cheaper option than cutting metal prototype tooling and yet does not sacrifice the end use material of the prototype, like direct 3D printing would. 

Parts in a variety of industries are good candidates for this process including aerospace, food packaging, medical devices, and even common consumer goods like toys. One of the largest spaces that will be required to use recycled materials and undergo a lot of design iterations in the near future is the caps and closures industry. With Europe implementing restrictions on single use plastic, tethered caps and closures have become a hot option for beverage manufacturers looking to make sure bottles and caps can remain intact and the same material to improve recyclability. The only way to prototype these types of caps with living hinges and complex tethering features is injection molding. Anyone familiar with prototype injection molding is aware of the high cost and lead times of getting traditional metal tooling- 4-10 weeks and anywhere from $5000-$15000. With a Fortify printer in house a design department can cut this lead time down to 3 days and only $300-$600 for a set of inserts. Not only is this a much cheaper alternative to metal tooling, the prototypes manufactured off of these tools are functional, unlike a 3D printed cap, which would not be able to be flexed and used like a molded part. Another advantage for those who are especially environmentally conscious is that your sprues, runners, start up, and scrap parts could easily become your next iteration of prototypes with just a grinder and dryer. When considering manufacturing with recycled materials, molding is really the only option, and for prototyping resin based tooling is the most cost effective and shortest lead time solution.

Processing recycled materials can be a difficult task even for very experienced process engineers and highly sophisticated presses. One technology that is flipping this on its head is the iMFLUX Auto Viscosity Adjust (AVA) which uses proprietary technology to change the injection conditions during each shot to adjust to the changing viscosity of the material. This can come in handy during normal production as molecular weight over the course of material batches can change slightly and alter the viscosity of each shot, however this variability is significantly greater when using regrind or PCR. Implementing iMFLUX into your presses would allow for the use of recycled plastic without the need for a process engineer to diligently watch every shot and try to adjust settings on the fly which in turn is going to reduce scrap rate and produce high quality prototypes and parts. 

recycled plastic material

HDPE Regrind Material (Source: erema.com)

 

While AVA is a great tool for combating variations in PCR and regrind, getting high quality recycled resin is of the utmost importance in order to effectively implement sustainability into your manufacturing process. One option for large manufacturers would be to bring high quality recycling equipment into the facility and control the process. Simple single screw extruders are fine for shop regrind as it is less likely that there will be a high degree of contaminants, but for optimal results a larger investment in specialized equipment would be required. Recycling leader, Erema Group, has several different technologies that can address a host of different form factors for recycling including bottle to bottle, thin film, regrind, and general PCR. The advantage of using recycling equipment is that it can filter out contaminants while remelting and pelletizing the polymer which creates a much easier to use material, rather than trying to process with chunky regrind, you are able to load in pellets, much like you would do with a virgin resin. However, bringing in recycling equipment is a significant investment into technology, so for smaller manufacturers here are some suppliers of high quality recycled materials so you can begin prototyping greener:

If you are looking to test out Fortify’s Digital Tooling material for recycled plastics in your prototyping, sign up for our molding pilot program.

Introducing Fortify ESD-HT

The Fortify team is excited to announce the launch of our newest material: ESD High Temperature (ESD-HT). ESD-HT is the newest addition to Fortify’s Electronic Materials portfolio and will allow electronics manufacturers to quickly produce jigs, trays, and assembly aids quickly and efficiently, in applications that require rigorous ESD safety requirements that are necessary to protect sensitive electronic products. What sets ESD-HT apart from other conventional AM-based ESD materials is its ruggedness and temperature resistance at 284℃, allowing for use in demanding applications such as solder reflow.

Why ESD?

Ensuring an ESD-safe environment is critical to places like PCB manufacturing facilities where protecting parts from electrostatic discharge is vital to ensuring high yield and operational efficiency. In fact, an electrostatic discharge of as little as 30 volts can cause damage to electronic components at any point during the full production process and thereafter. For reference, the shock you feel from walking across carpet is about 3,000 volts. This costs the industry roughly $5 billion dollars in damaged components. With this in mind, the Fortify team saw an opportunity to create a photopolymer an ESD-safe material that could withstand high temperatures.

Fortify’s ESD-HT Resin

Our new ESD material, which is powered by Loctite, exhibits the highest heat deflection temperature available in additive manufacturing. By harnessing the power of CKM and Fluxprint, we are able to incorporate fibers for mechanical reinforcement as well as a precise amount of conductive filler into a high-temperature resin, resulting in an ESD material that does not compromise integrity. By harnessing the power of DLP 3D printing, we produce parts with a near-perfect surface finish that is non-marring, making this material and the parts it produces a suitable candidate for end-use enclosures, SMT nozzles, and autoclave material handling.

Parts made from Fortify’s ESD-HT photoresin are static dissipative allowing for a controlled release of static buildup due to a precisely tuned resistivity of 106 Ω/sq. Thanks to CKM, Fortify is able to maintain a homogenous distribution of conductive material throughout the build, ensuring consistency from part to part, build to build, and printer to printer.

As we stated above, Fortify ESD–HT best performs for tools, jigs, and fixtures that must be ESD safe. Other applications that require this level of resistivity include parts with explosion and fire hazards, electrostatic protected areas, or environments requiring no electrostatic attraction of dust or bioparticles since small voltages can be enough to destroy sensitive electrical components or ignite flammable vapor. ESD-HT enables manufacturers to produce these components, assembly aids, and fixtures on-demand leading to a reduction in lead times, increasing operational efficiency and slashing costs as compared to traditional processes.

Some applications where this will be key are: 

  • SMT pick and place nozzles
  • Soldering fixture pallets (wave, reflow, selective)
  • PCB housings
  • IC test fixtures
  • PCB test fixtures
  • Magnetic data protection

Summary

We are just scratching the surface of what our high-HDT ESD-safe material can accomplish. In fact, we are launching a pilot program to help customers understand the high value of this resin to see how it can help them achieve greater productivity and product quality. 

Learn more about our ESD pilot program here to see how you can order sample parts to have in your hand in a matter of days. 

In addition to this pilot program, register for our webinar co-hosted with Loctite on April 26, When and Why to use a 3D Printable High-Temperature ESD Safe Photopolymer.

Written by Senior Applications Engineer, Benjamin MacDonald

Steel molds get to enjoy the cycle time benefits of water cooling channels, why can’t Fortify molds? Mold cooling is something that has plagued polymer-based molds since their inception and Fortify is certainly not the exception. Today, the most effective way to maintain tool temperature is to spray compressed air across the mold surface. This happens AFTER the part has gone through an elongated passive cooling phase and the mold opens. We know what benefits we might see with an active cooling phase before a mold opens, the real question is how. How would we overcome the thermal conductivity limitations of Fortify mold tools to actually see the benefits of water cooling?

Written by Applications Engineer, Craig Crossley

3D printed mold tools function differently than traditional steel or aluminum tools. They belong in a different stage of product development (i.e. when you need prototypes for functional testing), and also are designed differently. In fact, we put out a whole blog post on the difference between them, that you can check out here.

Just as the tools themselves are different, so is the molding process.  Instead of the traditional Scientific Molding process that is generally accepted as the gold standard of molding, Fortify has developed processing parameters that work effectively with 3D printed tools.  

Fortify’s molding process is a hybrid extrusion and molding process that fills cavities slowly at low pressures. For instance, we steer away from the normal short shot study and instead use a 85%-95% fill as our transfer part. Additionally, we forgo the gate freeze study, in-mold rheology curve and cooling time optimization to maximize the amount of usable prototypes that can be manufactured from our molds. The goal is to keep the cavity pressure as low and consistent as possible.

While this process eliminates many molding defects, some still occur using this process. Below is a list of the common defects seen with Fortify’s molding process – and how to troubleshoot them. 

1. FLASH

Flash is a very common mold defect that occurs at the parting line or at insert mating locations. The first step is to identify the cause of the flash.mold defects flash

  • Insufficient Clamp Tonnage: Oftentimes the simplest answer is the correct answer.Normally clamp tonnage is calculated using the part surface area and a clamp safety factor. However, when using 3D printed tooling we often use much lower clamping forces, starting off with the machine minimum. A good way to tell if the clamp force is too low is if the runner is flashing on partial shots. Increasing the clamp tonnage incrementally should correct this issue, but going too high could damage the mold or your press. If increasing by a few tons does not do the trick, follow the steps below to go through some other possible causes.
  • Parting Line Flash: If the mold blocks are not flush with the frame, use some shim stock to get them proud of the frame. Digital tooling resin (the material that Fortify’s 3D printed tools are printed with) has very good compressive strength. Therefore, setting the blocks slightly proud of the mold frame will create a very good parting line seal without damaging the mold. 
  • Insert Mating Line Flash: Flash on insert mating lines can be one of two issues: too much hold pressure or improper fit of inserts. If the flash is occurring at the end of fill then lowering the hold pressure should get it down to a manageable level or completely eliminate the issue. If an insert fit is the issue, sanding or shimming the inserts will solve that problem.

2. VOIDS / AIR TRAPS

MOD DEFECTS AIR TRAPSVoids and Air traps are often the sign of a venting issue or mold temperature issue in traditional metal tooling. Oftentimes in our process there is a very simple solution. If the voids or air traps are presenting themselves near an insert or ejector pin hole the fix would be increasing the hold time. Because our process is slower and lower pressure than normal it often takes much longer to push air through the natural venting locations on our molds. A hold time of 10-20 seconds is perfectly acceptable when using Fortify tooling. If these voids are occurring at the parting line, additional venting may be required.

 

 

 

3. WELD / KNIT / MELD LINES

mold defect weld lines

A common way to solve a very noticeable weld line would be to increase the mold temperature to help those flow lines better assimilate when they meet, however this will not be available when using Fortify tooling. The best way to eliminate this issue is to increase the pack pressure and time, but remember to not exceed 80% of your peak injection pressure for this pack pressure. If you are overpacking the part during this phase, resetting those values and instead increasing the injection velocity should allow for those flow fronts to merge while hotter and should eliminate the lines on the part. However, these defects are often a sign of a larger issue in the mold design where a large flow obstacle is present. Since these are prototype tools it is a lot better to solve this issue with a tool redesign, so that once your production run starts, you won’t have this defect.

Setting your processing strategy is just as important as designing the mold tools themselves for successful mold runs. The above strategies will help eliminate these part defects while using 3D printed tooling. Part 2 of this process troubleshooting series will cover how to get rid of sink, short shots and other common defects that you will face. Please stay tuned for more updates to this series, but for now you can learn more about optimal design tips for 3D printed mold tools, with our mold design video series.

 

Written by: Ben MacDonald, Senior Applications Engineer

What do the cap on your water bottle, strap on your smartwatch, and frame of your sunglasses all have in common? If they are all made out of plastic then they were all injection molded. Injection molding is a manufacturing process that has been around for over a century. In that time, the process and technology have made tremendous advancements. Similarly, mold design techniques and solutions have needed to evolve to match the technology and market needs. In the early days collapsible cores, conformal cooling, and advanced CAD softwares were beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Today these are all standard tools in a mold designers toolbox, however, the only way these tools are useful to a mold designer is for them to gain the knowledge on how to use them. Even a simple tool, like a hammer, is just a paper weight to an individual who doesn’t know how to swing it. 

At Fortify we believe 3D printed mold tooling is the next big advancement in injection molding. While printed mold tooling certainly isn’t something new to the industry, it has not been widely adopted. Anecdotally, we hear all too often that someone tried out printed mold tools years ago and they just didn’t work. And historically, 3D printed tools were not made from the right materials and/or printed on the right hardware to hold up in a mold press. Fortify dove deep into the application to understand exactly what inputs are needed to be successful. While standard inputs like material properties and printer quality are a major focus, less obvious inputs like the mold design itself has turned out to be a key contributor to successful or unsuccessful molding outcomes. One very basic principle that has guided us is that printed molds are fundamentally different from traditional steel molds. Steel molds are made out of metal while printed molds are made from a photopolymer. As a result, in order to be successful with a polymer based mold, different design strategies must be implemented.

The 3D printing roadmap over the past few decades has been heading in the direction of serial production, end-use parts, cheaper, faster and better manufacturing. The list goes on. However, for 3D printing to reach these goals, advanced and architected materials play a vital role. 

In this blog, we are going to talk about how one of our partners, Tethon 3D, leveraged Fortify’s Flux Developer to develop and optimize their ceramic materials for the FLUX Series printers.

Originally posted on Microwave Journal

Written by Phil Lambert, Senior Customer Solutions Engineer at Fortify

In many microwave and millimeter-wave (mmW) applications, there is a drive to improve the performance of the communication or sensing system, to either stay competitive or exceed the range, throughput, accuracy, frequency range, agility, or other desirable aspect of the system. As microwave/mmW design and function dictates or otherwise heavily influences the performance of these systems, it is clear that improving antenna performance or introducing beamsteering enhancements can often provide the needed enhancement.

However, traditional metallic antenna typologies are limited by certain phenomena in terms of their size, shape, and performance. A way to overcome these limitations is to use metastructure techniques with arrangements of metallic conductive structures in three-dimensional (3D) space. Given the nature of metallic conductors as a material, there are also limitations to the size, shape, performance, and manufacturability of metallic metastructure antennas. Conveniently, microwave/mmW metastructures can also be fabricated using dielectric materials, which in some cases, may be easier to machine or otherwise fabricate into complex 3D structures at the scale and resolution tolerances necessary to yield microwave/mmW antennas or lenses. Recent advancements in 3D printing dielectric materials has also opened doors to the types, cost, degrees of freedom, and time-scales associated with fabricating dielectric metastructures for small-/large-scale manufacturing.

A notable result of these advancements and new capabilities/materials is the ability to cost-effectively fabricate even extremely complex gradient-refractive index (GRIN) style dielectric antennas and lenses. GRIN dielectric lens (or lens antenna) are a type of dielectric metastructure with a continuous spatially graded index of refraction, which allows for some control of the electromagnetic radiation passing through the structure. In short, GRIN dielectric lenses/antennas can be used to dramatically alter the performance of an antenna by modifying/augmenting the gain, directivity, antenna pattern, steering angle, bandwidth, and other key antenna parameters.

Hence, GRIN dielectric lenses/antennas have been a hot topic of research for virtually every microwave/mmW application, from military/defense, aerospace/Space, to commercial telecommunications. There have even been several companies, products, and government/DoD grants using GRIN dielectric lens/antenna technology. This blog provides some discussion around recent (since 2018) research on GRIN dielectric lenses/antennas, and an overview of GRIN dielectric lenses/antennas being deployed or intended for practical use.

Written by Josh Martin, CEO & Co-founder at Fortify

In 1987, the first commercially available 3D printer (SLA-1) hit the market. Over the past 35 years, 3D printing has evolved from a sci-fi technology used to create quick proof-of-concepts with limited functionality to a force that is redefining manufacturing across multiple industries. Since then, the additive manufacturing (AM) market size has been doubling every 3-4 years, with several reports estimating it will break $100B before the end of this decadeWith the expansion of AM technology in recent years, it is easy to assume that rapid growth means that AM is headed for mainstream adoption. While AM technology has grown, it has grown in a relatively narrow application space and is far from creating a meaningful impact on the industry or society as a whole. A better metric for success in the AM industry, rather than market size,  is to look at the number of unique applications in AM that are creating value in ways that traditional manufacturing cannot.  

Global Estimates for 3D Printing Market 2020 - 2025
Image source: figure adapted from ARK Investment Management LLC

The growth of the AM market has been, up until now, powered by prototyping. Advances in the consumer printer segment have made prototyping more accessible than ever before, resulting in more rapid product development. Printed molds, tools, and fixtures have been sought after for decades and are beginning to see wider adoption across multiple industries including medical devices, consumer goods, and industrial manufacturing.  One of my favorite printed mold success stories is that of patient-specific dental aligners provided by Align Technology. As of this writing, Align has served over 10 million patients and has a market cap of over $38B (which is ~17x that of the largest public 3D printing manufacturer).  ARK research claims there’s merely 4% of market penetration of molds and tools, indicating there is plenty of room for growth (see below). While prototyping, tools, and molds are enabling AM to gain traction, manufacturing end-use parts will allow AM to command the space it occupies.  

3D printing application current penetration vs potential market size

Image source: figure adapted from ARK Investment Management LLC

Written by Craig Crossley, Applications Engineer at Fortify

What is it?

For the past several decades, 3D printing has become synonymous with rapid prototyping and increased its notoriety as a viable manufacturing alternative. Improvements to printing processes, sintering, finishing and materials have opened doors to new opportunities that were  previously thought to be impossible. For example, the ability to 3D print injection mold tools for short run prototyping and production projects. This relatively new application is beginning to gain momentum for product developers, tool makers and contract manufacturers due to several unique advantages.

Those familiar with conventional injection molding (IM) for production purposes are well aware of the inherent benefits associated. An aluminum tool can produce thousands of parts, and steel tools remains the most efficient mass production method available today. However, the process doesn’t always yield the best results, and tooling mistakes can become economically problematic very quickly. Prototype injection molding with 3D printed tools has become a viable bridge-to-production tool and may be worth considering. 

First, it’s important to understand the time and cost differences between the different prototype methods. Our engineering experts at Fortify present the following:

Prototype injection mold tooling with 3D printing is uniquely advantageous to designers and engineers because it is an inexpensive and fast way to make mistakes. Hard or aluminum tooling is costly and very difficult to alter once the mold has been delivered, making it a logistical and financial nightmare. The data below shows how significant the cost difference is when comparing multiple prototype methods. Not to mention, a dramatic decrease in the product development timeline.

How is it used?

Prototype injection molding is a bridge-to-production method that minimizes risks and improves product validation well before mass manufacturing. The use of injection molding to prototype is beneficial for several reasons; (1) functional testing with end-use materials, (2) engineering & customer feedback, and (3) eliminating unforeseen challenges in production. 

  • Functional Testing | Prototype IM tooling is a cost efficient way for engineers to shoot end-use materials for true product testing and evaluation. For example, 3D printed mold tools are reinforced with ceramic fiber and are strong enough to be injected with a variety of thermoplastics that include polycarbonate, nylon 66, ABS and POM, Ultem, GF Ultem, and more. Now, the engineering team can produce 20+ prototypes that are representative of the final product ready to be tested and processed.
  • Feedback | Product development relies on internal and external feedback to make improvements. Having access to a small batch of product parts with prototype IM tooling enables beta customers and remote engineering teams immediate access to the product. This is ideal to enhance customer relationships or international organizations with multiple facilities. No delays or hold ups due to part scarcity.
  • Unforeseen Challenges | Let’s face it, no one designs or prototypes the perfect part right off the bat. What’s more problematic to your new product development (NPD) lifecycle—wasted time or wasted money? The real answer is both. Therefore, adopting a prototype injection molding process will provide real answers to production problems that typically occur late in the game. Thus eliminating costly redesigns or worse, production mishaps.

When is the break-even point?

Prototype injection mold tools can be created with a variety of different technologies. As previously presented, it’s possible to use hard tooling, aluminum, or 3D printing depending on resources and availability. To put it into perspective, a normal mold order for a complex part that requires threads, texturing or undercuts could take approximately 5-8 weeks with an aluminum tool. That’s assuming that there are no alterations or changes within that time to further delay the process. However, Fortify offers a unique path towards a much faster and flexible solution. The gantt chart below shows a traditional 3 phase injection molding process. Presuming that the product development (Phase one) takes approximately three weeks, we can determine the next steps in the process comparing aluminum vs. Fortify molds.

Notice that the first shots with Fortify IM tools are delivered early in Phase 2 while aluminum tooling takes much longer, resulting in parts being shipped at the beginning of Phase 3 (~two weeks later). Assuming you require a single iteration, Fortify can produce parts immediately and have them available in as little as three days. The design finishes on Monday, printing begins overnight then cleaning and curing on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the molds/inserts are coated and parts are ready in a few hours. Second iteration? Third iteration? No problem, we repeat the process with an identical timeframe. 

Why is it so valuable?

The bottom line is the bottom line. Cost and time savings have been referenced several times throughout this guide, and it’s important to address it directly. 3D printed IM tools are perfect for the low volume production of prototypes or end-use parts. For any application, it’s important to determine what exactly is low volume and how it pertains to your particular product. This is not easy, so we recommend speaking with an expert to determine what makes the most sense for your application and process. 

Using a 6 x 4 x 2 model, we can establish a cost analysis for prototype injection mold tooling that compares Fortify, rapid prototyping, and

The mold tool geometry used to compare prototyping methods.

conventional aluminum processes. While it’s important to note that an aluminum mold will last for 1 – 10,000 parts, 3DP tools are much less expensive and provide more flexibility when it comes to design changes or part complexity. For example, injection molded parts with sharp corners, thin ribs or undercut features will generally be more expensive because it requires a secondary process called EDM machining. Complexity comes free with Fortify, and nowhere near as costly or problematic. 

Analyzing the 6 x 4 x 2 Model

Process 25 Parts 50 Parts 75 Parts
Rapid Prototyping $1,250 $2,500 $3,750
Fortify IM Tool $300 + Material Cost $300 + Material Cost $300 + Material Cost
Aluminum IM Tool $5,000  + MC $5,000  + MC $5,000  + MC

The table above compares several methods of producing multiple prototypes or low volume production. As you can see, rapid prototyping of multiple parts starts to get relatively expensive as the quantity increases, but is still nowhere near the cost of an aluminum tool for less than 100 parts. However, the Fortify IM tool is significantly less expensive and just as capable to mold parts with the appropriate end-use materials. In fact, an engineering team can redesign a prototype injection mold tool with Fortify over 15 times for the same cost as a singular aluminum mold. 

Where can I learn more?

Historically, 3D printed tools were considered a gimmick and unqualified due to a lack of material capabilities. They were brittle and unable to withstand the high temperatures of molding, leaving many engineers without a viable alternative. That is, until Fortify presented a technology that is flexible, inexpensive, and strong enough to mold parts in end-use materials. Ceramic fiber reinforced materials are revolutionary for the prototype injection mold market that enables a true bridge-to-production tool that will save engineers time and money, without sacrificing quality. 

Inject a variety of thermoplastics that include polycarbonate, nylon 66, ABS and POM from a Fortify mold that is ~90% cheaper than aluminum. The conventional IM tooling process can take up to eight weeks to get parts delivered, imagine having those same parts within days? Fail fast and fail often by quickly redesigning prototype IM tools and testing parts immediately, getting to market faster than ever before. 

If you’d like to learn more about how you can maximize prototype injection molding with Fortify, contact us today. 

 

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