- 3D printing and injection molding are now being used in combination.
- In some cases 3D printing can reduce the cost of injection molds or speed up their implementation.
3D printing is often seen as an alternative to injection molding. The two technologies can work in collaboration however. As we’ve discussed before a lot of 3D printing applications take place around molding and casting. In this post we will look more specifically into injection molding and how 3D printing can make injection molding processes faster and less expensive.
Why are companies looking into making inserts and cores using 3D printing?
Time and money. Both time and money are key drivers in many business decisions and the use of 3D printing for injection molding is no exception. Molds and inserts made out of metal require significant investments. Often these items will also take weeks to produce. By making unique geometries available quickly, 3D printing can reduce the lead times on these molds and help bring products to market faster. The time to develop the mold and the production time for the mold are reduced. 3D printed molds are often much less expensive to make than conventionally manufactured ones. Especially when time is critical (with project delays, bridge manufacturing, testing, short run series, etc.) 3D printing can be a solution for injection molds. If one compares 3D printing polymers to making molds out of metal the cost savings can be significant indeed.
In conformal cooling channels or conformal cooling inserts 3D printing also has the ability to manufacture shapes that are not able to be made with another process. Conformal cooling channels can also be made as an integrated part of a mold or produced together with the mold itself in one part.