How to cut tooling costs for prototype parts by 97 percent
Seuffer uses Stratasys 3D-printed injection molds to produce parts for functional testing in their final material.
3D printing is radically reducing the time and cost of producing injection-molded sample parts at Robert Seuffer, GmbH & Co. KG (Seuffer), a German supplier of parts for household appliances and commercial vehicles.
The injection-molding process is used by manufacturers all over the world to produce parts in a variety of materials, most commonly thermoplastics. Prototype parts are required to evaluate the part design for performance and fit before mass production. The ability to dramatically streamline the tool creation process for producing these prototype parts is another concrete example of how 3D printing -- and in this case, Stratasys 3D printing -- is revolutionizing manufacturing.
"Working with the automotive industry, sample parts need to be tested in the environment of moving mechanical parts, as well as in high-temperature environments," says Andreas Buchholz, head of research and development at Seuffer. "With Stratasys 3D printing, we can design first drafts of the injection mold within a few days and 3D print them in less than 24 hours for part evaluation. Traditionally, it would take eight weeks to manufacture the tool in metal using the conventional CNC process. And while the conventional tool costs us about 40,000 euros, the 3D-printed tool is less than 1,000 euros, a saving of 97 percent."
Using Stratasys 3D-printing technology, Seuffer also produces 3D-printed molds for its hot-melt process. These molds, which are used to overmold low-melting-point polyamide over electronic circuit boards, are created with Stratasys' rigid, opaque Vero materials.
"Companies worldwide are looking to introduce significant efficiencies to their manufacturing processes when introducing new products, and are discovering the many benefits of additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing," says Andy Middleton, general manager, Stratasys Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). "More and more manufacturers are adopting 3D-printed tools as a complimentary injection-molding solution -- not only to cost-effectively test products before mass production, but also to produce customized parts."
Watch this video to learn how Seuffer's move to 3D printing is revolutionizing their injection-molding process.
Published November 2013
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