One of the essential parts of a product development process in the initial stages is to create a correct prototype for the product. To create a prototype, you need the proper tooling. However, the tools used in the manufacturing process are usually expensive and require a significant investment.
This is where rapid tooling comes in. It allows you to quickly create the tooling required to make the parts for the product or the product itself. Tools designed through this process do not require as much investment and help build the prototype or low volumes of products. There are several different methods for this, such as rapid tooling injection molding.
Keep reading as we explore the concept of rapid tooling in detail.
What Is Rapid Tooling?
Rapid tooling makes the tools needed to produce specific products or parts in low quantities. It keeps costs low and still lets you use high-quality tooling for manufacturing.
Investing in large machinery is only viable for mass production in most manufacturing processes. This can pose a significant risk in terms of investment, especially if you are just in the testing phase and intend to produce a small batch only.
Rapid tooling can solve this issue by producing the tooling at a low cost and in a short period so you can create your test batch of products. Traditionally, tooling is manufactured from metal, steel, iron, and more. In rapid tooling, other materials are often used, such as plastic.
One distinctive advantage of rapid tooling is that it can be used to customize the parts or the molds. Rapid tooling can produce highly customized end products and tools as huge investments and resources are not required.
Indirect And Direct Tooling
There are two different types of rapid tooling methods.
Indirect tooling involves producing the tools by carving them in a soft master material such as silicone or rubber. In direct tooling, the products or tools are made by directly carving out the material used to build such tools.
Silicone rubber tooling is an example of an indirect tooling process, while aluminum injection mold tooling is a direct tooling process.
Difference Between Rapid Tooling And Rapid Prototyping
Some people confuse the two terms. They are different but, in fact, very close in the application.
Rapid prototyping is used to make end products or parts via different techniques, such as CAD or injection molding. In the case of rapid tooling, the focus is on producing the tooling, which is then used to make the end products.
Uses Of Rapid Tooling
Rapid tooling is involved in various manufacturing processes to produce parts, such as plastic products, silicone ones, and even parts made from metal. The process will vary depending on the material used and the parts that need to be manufactured.
Some standard manufacturing processes that involve rapid tooling include injection molding, casting, thermoforming, molding and compression, and a few others.
Rapid tooling encompasses several contemporary techniques that help streamline manufacturing and make product development efficient. You can choose from different techniques that will help you produce and test products through rapid tooling at lower costs. It is practical, saves time, improves the process, and gives better returns on investment.