Stratasys displayed a variety of molding and prototype applications to show visitors the value of incorporating 3D printing technology into their business. They featured 3D printed parts for injection mold, thermal vacuum forming mold, blow mold, paper pulp molds, metal forming tools, and more.
One of the most popular and exciting molding application for FDM technology was its thermal vacuum forming mold. FDM technology can manufacture parts with internal air gaps, creating hollow parts. These hollow parts allow them to pull a vacuum through for shaping thin pieces of plastic--mostly used in packaging. In traditional methods, these molds are machined out of metal then drilled into to create holes to pull the vacuum. FDM allows engineers to quickly test out their designs and create molds that can form hundreds of sheets of plastic. This is still unknown by many manufacturers while others are using it as their competitive advantage.
For PolyJet technology, visitors were interested in the ability to 3D print forms for injection molds. The PolyJet resins are thermal sets, meaning that once hardened they will never melt back down to a liquid state. Because of this, we can inject low volumes of plastic with high melting points in them such as polycarbonate. This gives moldmakers the ability to test out a couple different designs before investing in the final tool.
Also displayed were blow molding tools, fiber layups, investment casting patterns, jigs and fixtures, and soluble cores.