With custom-made 3D-printed injection moulding tools, igus offers designers a new possibility to produce self-lubricating and maintenance-free parts and small batches in any of the company's materials. Engineers can now choose from the entire range of 50 iglidur high-performance plastics, including specialist grades for high loads, food contact, underwater or high-temperature applications, and delivered within five days of ordering.
For some time now igus has offered customers injection moulded, 3D-printed or machined-from-solid parts. These options can be cost-effective for prototyping or small volumes, with typical parts ranging from gears to bearings. Now igus is also offering parts injection moulded (in any igus material) from 3D-printed polymer mould tools, at prices considerably lower than 3D-printed parts.
Robert Dumayne, dry-tech director at igus UK, states: "Since the production of injection moulds made of steel is comparatively expensive, takes longer and is only feasible in the production of large quantities, special tribo solutions can be produced with a printed mould within two to five days with up to 80 per cent cost savings in production and further, even small quantities can be produced. A new process for the production of 3D printed injection moulding tools now allows igus to make even more precise and long-lasting products."
The material selection of the moulded part determines the material and the manufacturing process of the printed mould. Dumayne explains: "From an availability of 50 tribologically optimised and online configurable iglidur materials, designers are free to choose the right material for their special part. For example, iglidur G is an all-rounder, whereas iglidur X is for long-term application temperatures of up to 250degC."
Depending on the material chosen for the part, the mould is either SLA or SLS printed and then used immediately in the injection-moulding machine. Parts are therefore ready for shipment within a few days. The material structure of the 3D printed mould tool ensures that it can withstand the high temperatures during injection moulding, which means that one mould can produce prototypes and small batches of up to 500 pieces cost-effectively and quickly. Furthermore, the use of SLA/SLS for production of the mould tool means that tolerances on moulded parts are better than for tribo-parts that are 3D printed directly, yet the mould tools also cost 80 per cent less than hard tooling.
Dumayne concludes: "The production of special tribo-parts by means of printed injection moulding tools is particularly advantageous if the desired material cannot be processed in the 3D printer or when the parts are used for a test that is intended to simulate as close as possible conditions for a later mass production. We have moulded over 2000 moving parts already, using printed injection moulding tools."
Follow the link for more information about 3D printed mould tooling and injection moulded tribo-parts from igus.