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Moldmaking with 3D Prints: Techniques for Prototyping and Production

Moldmaking with desktop 3D printing makes the prototyping and product development process faster, more affordable, and allows you to bring it entirely in house.

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  1. Introduction
  2. Injection Molding
  3. Overmolding
  4. Vacuum Forming
  5. Silicone Molding
  6. Compression Molding
  7. Composite Molding
  8. Get Started With 3D Printed Molds


3D printing offers business much more than prototypes and physical representation of CAD models. 3D printing has the ability to supplement and enhance traditional manufacturing techniques to create new and exciting possibilities for product designers, which ultimately creates better end products for consumers. Combining traditional techniques like injection molding, thermoforming, or silicone molding with SLA 3D printed parts allows you to bring products to market faster with a more time- and cost-efficient manufacturing process.

This combination of 3D printed tools with traditional manufacturing techniques—called rapid tooling —has grown in popularity as affordable SLA 3D printers have become versatile, industrial- quality workhorses.

Part of the reason for this growth is the proliferation of high-performance SLA printing materials, which gives engineers access to a wide range of plastic materials. For example, Rigid 10K Resin, a highly glass-filled resin created for precise industrial parts that will be dimensionally stable under load and can withstand the clamping and injection pressures without breaking. Another material, Tough 1500 Resin, balances elongation and modulus. Parts printed in this material can bend significantly and quickly spring back to their original shape, which facilitates the demolding of the part. Materials such as Tough 1500 Resin and Rigid 10K Resin have enabled a range of demanding rapid tooling applications from injection molding to composite molding.

Injection Molding

Injection molding is one of the leading processes for manufacturing plastics. It is widely used
for mass-producing identical parts with tight tolerances. It is a cost-effective and extremely repeatable technology that yields high-quality parts for large series. It can produce volumes from 1,000 to 100,000+ of parts at very low unit costs. Injection molding has a short cycle time, with each machine capable of building new parts every 15 to 60 seconds.

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