Building an FDM injection mould

Supplier: Out of business - Rapid Pro
08 November, 2011

This particular part is designed for use in high performance vehicles and must be injection moulded in order to fulfil its design requirements.

Case Study FDM:  The new face of Rapid Injection Moulding

The Prototype: High Performance Throttle Body Adaptor

The Client: VCM Suite Australasia Pty Ltd

VCM Suite Australasia Pty Ltd ( manufacture software systems for the home and professional workshop for use in the high performance tuning of a range of vehicles, including all Gen3 and Gen4 (LS1/LS2) Commodores, all post ’98 American Gen3 equipped vehicles, trucks and all Australian and American LS2 powered vehicles. VCM Suite Australasia is currently located in Knoxfield, Victoria, Australia.

The Rapid Prototyping Process: FDM Moulding

Tooling and injection moulding has traditionally been a time consuming and expensive exercise; however a recent revelation has changed this. Simon Bartlett from RapidPro , Ray Piper from Beza Patterns (Knoxfield, Vic) and Ken Nunn from Southways Consulting ( recently worked together to devise a new method of injection moulding that is cost effective, fast and completely repeatable – FDM moulding.

Instead of machining a mould out of Ureol, aluminium or steel, they created a mould using RedEye RPM Australasia’s Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) technology. The mould was built using ABS M30 which was then treated to make it suitable for high pressure plastic injection moulding.

Polyurethane was then injected into the mould with complete success. The FDM mould was used over 30 times with no loss of quality.

If the mould had been built out of Polycarbonate, even more shots would have been resourced from this fast, and inexpensive mould.

The benefits of this type of tooling will completely revolutionise the prototyping industry, by reducing time to market and tooling costs. See Table 1 below for more details.

While further trails are needed to accurately compare the various tooling methods and to test the true limits of this type of FDM mould (in ABS and PC), the projected savings (both time and financial) makes this a process that could save companies thousands of dollars during the Research and Development phase of their project.

The result: Greg Brindley, Director, VCM Suite Australasia Pty Ltd said:

"FDM moulding allowed us to dip our toes into the market without the costly spend. We discovered that the market was larger than we expected and that the part was accurate and required no modifications. While we have now produced a CNC mould, I would not have changed one thing about the process because for only a minimal spend, we had parts in days and it gave us the confidence to proceed."

Ken Nunn, Designer from Southways Consulting who was commissioned to design and manage the project for VCM Suite Australasia Pty Ltd said:

"The FDM mould allowed us to get injection moulded parts in days rather than weeks. This is critical in our industry where the next race meet acts as our testing ground and marketing arena. The mould produced accurate identical parts which were durable and functional. While the mould may have a limited life, the product it produced is just as good as anything from a CNC injection mould."

Ray Piper, Director of Beza Patterns said:

"The FDM mould is cheap and a great way to get to market quicker. If any modifications were needed they would have been picked up quickly and making a new FDM mould is much cheaper than making a new mould from another material. FDM moulds certainly have a place in the production schedule.

Source: Rapid Pro