Rapid Tooling

What is Rapid Tooling?

hydroforming | March 4, 2020 |

Advancing your product from prototyping to pre-production to production involves, in the literal sense, lots of moving parts. It’s a process that requires equipment manufacturers and product engineers to develop a quality, finished product through trial and error while staying within budget and timeline restrictions. By contrast, rapid tooling offers a cost-effective and streamlined alternative to traditional tooling processes.

The term “rapid tooling” covers a variety of manufacturing techniques to produce tools and molds much faster than the conventional machining methods that are typically employed in the mass production of steel tools. While manufacturers often use rapid tooling techniques for prototyping new products, recent years have seen rapid tooling make its way into full-scale mass production applications. And no wonder. Rapid tooling reduces both waste and cost by creating a tool with the durability and life-span to match a product’s budget, timeline and specifications.

Fluid Cell Forming and Rapid Tooling

Fluid cell forming has become a must-have capability in rapid tooling thanks to the ability of fluid cell press machines to create high precision parts with very short lead times. Creating the tools for a production run can be one of the most expensive costs associated with production. In contrast, fluid cell forming can produce almost any shape with short lead times and low costs. 

The fluid cell press can product plastic tools, lowering up front project cost. The plastic tooling can be machined three times faster than the speed of normal steel tooling. By exerting high pressure – up to 11,600 psi – onto a flexible rubber diaphragm, the press forms sheet metal into shapes that meet precise tolerances. Unlike some forming methods, only a single die is required for each part – no mating tool is needed.  

Advantages of Rapid Tooling

Customizable Molds & Efficient, Fast Production
When it comes to producing large quantities of molds or many mold variations during the prototyping process, rapid tooling is hands down the clear choice. For example, a fluid cell press can machine plastic tooling three times faster than the speed of normal steel tooling, lowering upfront production costs. 

Rapid tooling is also to go-to solution for fast adjustments in product design, material, size, shape and color. Industries where product improvements, updates, or customizations are routinely part of the product development lifecycle rely on relationships with rapid tooling manufactures for quick-turnaround. A fluid cell press at JMP can rapidly manufacture materials from aluminums, steels, copper, bronze, titanium and more.

Complex, Quality Parts
At Jones Metal, our hydroforming and fluid cell forming capabilities are often employed to help aerospace, medical and lighting manufacturers produce limited production runs of shallow components, small parts, large panels and complex shapes. Both hydroforming and fluid cell forming production methods are used to prototype and output complex parts that are thinner and lighter with minimal surface abrasions.

Low Cost
Rapid tooling, with fluid cell and hyrodoforming production processes, offers greater cost efficiencies than those that employ conventional tooling. Not only is the manufacturing process cheaper, but the fluid cell and hyrdroforming presses themselves require only one die. Manufacturers can quickly make changes to their designs, perfecting the product and beating competitors to market. 

Whether you’re undertaking a short run project or a large volume production, our team of experts is ready to help streamline your project with rapid tooling and plastic tooling. Send us a drawing today or give us a call at 888-868-6535.

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