Combining Injection Molding with 3D Printing Creates Freedom from Conventional Moldmaking Techniques

Rich Oles of Alba Enterprises and Carsten Jarfelt of Addifab discuss how free form injection molding provides freedom from conventional moldmaking methods.


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When we talk about combining traditional manufacturing processes with additive manufacturing, we commonly think of the hybrid milling laser centering machines. But there’s a new process that combines injection molding with 3D printing.

Editorial Director Christina Fuges spoke with Rich Oles of Alba Enterprises and Carsten Jarfelt of Addifab to learn more about this process. Watch the video or read the transcript below to find out just what are the benefits of free from injection molding.

Rich Oles: FIM is free form injection molding. It's an additive manufacturing process where you are 3D printing the cavity insert. You injection mold into that cavity insert, and then you remove the cavity with a liquid process to reveal the part that you could not conventionally mold.

Carsten Jarfelt: Free form injection molding is way of getting the freedom back into manufacturing. You can do design, you can do rapid iteration and you can work in real materials from day one, day two and day three to get new products on the table every day.

Oles: There's no limitation in FIM to part geometry. In conventional moldmaking technology, you have to have an A and B half to the tool, whether there's action or not has to be able to be opened, and then if there are under cuts or holes, they have to be able to be pulled out. With FIM, you don't need to worry about any of that. The design that you make for the part for the application can be creating the cavity from a 3D printing technology.

Jarfelt: If you think about part design as sometimes being a sub assembly of several parts, you can now actually combine your design inside the same mode, meaning you can get rid of sub assemblies, injection mold it in one piece, remove the mold uniformly, and by that actually have a product that has no sub assemblies.

Oles: FIM creates the environment where you don't have to add draft. You don't have to worry about the conventional constraints of plastic injection molding or moldmaking because you can use the CAD file to produce the part. One of the byproducts of FIM molding is this insert that is created through their patented process does not rob the energy out of the plastic that's being injection molding. Which gives you more freedom to go to thinner walls, longer distances to injection mold that you could never accomplish in a conventional water cooled or heated mold.

See more interviews and demonstrations videos from last year’s Amerimold, and be sure to check out all the exciting things in store for this year’s show!