If you have not heard about the term 3DIM or 3D injection molds, it has been around for several years. Originally, this started with prototype injection molds out of aluminum and served the purpose of pre-phase or beta versions and functional testing for the R&D process. While this process was faster than using traditional P21 tooling, it still required a large investment of time and money to get a simple tool. Thanks to 3DIM and Stratasys PolyJet 3D printers, we now have a more streamlined process.
Speeding Up Time to Market
In this industry, getting products to market fast is key. And what better way to do this then by having a Stratasys 3D printer in-house to speed up R&D, prototyping, fit testing and design iteration processes? Especially, if companies can use the same 3D printer for both prototyping and tooling!
To give you an idea about how much 3DIM and in-house 3D printers benefit your workflow, we compare three hypothetical companies:
- Company X
- No in-house 3D printer
- Company Y
- In-house 3D printer
- No 3DIM capability
- Company Z
- In-house 3D printer
- 3DIM capability
Benefits of In-House 3D Printers
Let's assume all three companies have the same 3D CAD and design software and that their design cycle is the same. When they go to make a prototype, they will likely experience the following based on the resources and technology they have on hand.
Companies Y and Z that have 3D printers in house can print overnight, verify, test and redesign the next day and then begin the next prototype overnight. Meanwhile Company X, who does not have this 3D printing capability, has to deal with what we call a "Design Freeze," where the process gets put on pause to submit orders, get approvals and wait for parts to be shipped in order to begin testing. In a project planner, this will greatly increase the timeline of the product, and therefore, the time to market will be higher than the other two companies.
Benefits of 3D Injection Molding
While both Company Y and Company Z have 3D printing technology in-house, only Company Z has the capability to print prototype 3D Injection Molds (with awesome materials like the new Digital ABS Plus).
This means producing a prototype mold will vary between in house capabilities versus outsourced capabilities. In the case of a Stratasys 3D injection mold, it can range from hours to 2 days depending on the complexity of the mold. Meanwhile, the rule of thumb is about 10 days for an aluminum tool.
As you can see on the image above, if the company ever has to go through multiple iterations, the difference in time will be drastic. For example, five (5) iterations would take 50 days compared to 10 days. Plus, this is not taking into account the cost of making the tooling which is anywhere from 60%-90% less expensive than traditional prototype aluminum molds.
Want to learn more about the benefits of molding? Register for our webinar, Engineer's Guide to Mold Tooling, to learn about the best materials and processes for molding applications.