What is Rapid Tooling?
Rapid Tooling otherwise known as RT refers to machining on a slim timeline. It is also known by some other names in the industry like bridge mould, prototype mould and low volume production mould where the cavities and cores made are inserted into the same mould base. The main aim of shifting for rapid tooling is to decrease the cost of the base mould and decrease the lead time for the production process. The main applications for the same includes prototyping and troubleshooting related problems. The entire process of manufacturing is used for creating moulds for commercial purposes with zero time lag between start and finish of the process.
This process is used for creating different designs on the same base mould in different quantities. It provides the quick customisation for the personal applications and hence reduces the time and cost of getting involved within the tedious processes of trial and error, screening and monitoring of the raw materials before setting up the process of manufacturing. The tooling life in rapid tooling is on an average of 100,000 shots and can go even up to 500,000 shots. This manufacturing process saves about 50 percent of production cost and 60 percent of the lead time to finish the product.
The type of raw materials used
Following are the materials considered suitable for the process of Rapid Tooling: –
- Aluminium 7075- It is the ideal material for low volume production and fabrication of simple geometry products. Some of the advantages of using Al-7075 include better surface finish, high degree of smoothness, better and faster machining process and reduced cost on the machining processes. It is the most staple raw material used for fast and cheap production of low volume products.
- P20- Another commonly used material, it is one of the easy machinable steels of the manufacturing industry. It has better dimensional tolerances, surface finishing and easy fabrication of the part geometry. The tool life depends up on the structure and mould resin and hence can go as high as 200,000 shots.
- S136H- It is used for heavy applications purposes as its hardness value is HRC 35 and the life is in between 300,000 to 500,000 shots.
Rapid Tooling has the following pros aiding in its widespread use: –
- It reduces the cost of the raw materials and ease up the process of its quality testing and control before starting the process of manufacturing.
- The lead time is reduced due to simplification of the process.
- The same mould can be used for different purposes also.
- It acts as a good testing method before allowing the product to go for mass production.