Exploring the Potential: 3D Printed Metal Tooling

3D Metal Tooling

Our services at Overmould have now been expanded to include 3D-printed metal tools in addition to the 3D-printed plastic tooling we currently produce. In this blog, we investigate how metal 3D prototype tools are made and how they can be used as a stronger alternative to the high-temperature plastic printed tooling, whilst still providing a fast turnaround.  

The Metal Additive Manufacturing Process 

As with many technologies these days, there are new and improved 3D printing processes that are being continuously developed. As the established UK experts in Low-Pressure Overmoulding, we strive to stay ahead of the curve to enable the best service possible. 

There are various types of 3D print technology available, but Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) is perhaps the most common process for making durable metal parts. DMLS uses a high-power laser to selectively fuse a fine metal powder to create a three-dimensional metal part – This is the process Overmould uses to make 3D metal tooling for customers parts. It creates a fine texture presenting an excellent finish on the moulded part, with the benefit of creating a robust and accurate tool made in hours and days rather than weeks (when compared to typical CNC machining). This 3D printed prototype metal tool is showcased in the image above. 

3D printing material suitability: ABS or Metal 

Overmould manufactures industrial sensors for a global company that needs speedy development of its designs, followed by an initial small number of prototype or pre-production parts. 3D printed aluminum tooling provides speed advantages over conventional tool making, as well being much more robust than plastic tools.  

3D-printed plastic tools are typically best suited for a maximum of 5 to 10 parts, as this tool material can degrade rather quickly under the pressure and temperature present in an LPM situation. It’s real selling point over other methods is the speed of producing the tooling, as these types of tools can typically be printed in a matter of hours, meaning that the time from giving the order, to receiving sample parts is as short as it possibly can be.  

In reality, the material choice depends on the requirements asked of the prototype tool, both 3D printing processes have useful advantages and due to rapid manufacture, they enable components to be moulded well and in the long run, to get to market quicker.    

The Overmould team has the expertise and long-proven capabilities to serve a wide variety of applications and industries; this is reflected in our expanded material resources and our enhanced skills with 3D tool-making technologies. With many years of LPM tooling, design, and process knowledge, we are well-positioned to transform your manufacturing processes.  

Feel free to get in touch to further discuss the 3D printing process and material types for your Tooling requirements, please contact us at sales@overmould.com