3D printing is nearly synonymous with rapid tooling these days, but that was not the case almost 20 years ago. The highly coveted manufacturing technique disrupted the established methods of creating highly sophisticated parts using computer-aided design software. The result was a new form of printing that gave us the means to bring to life our ideas suing lightweight structures at first. These days thing has changed, and 3D printing manages much better performance levels than the moment it was introduced. Workshops can handle custom-made geometries, and most of them can work with a large selection of materials such as plastics or ceramics. This is why the rapid tooling industry has set their eyes on composite products.
Composite materials work by the same principles as alloys. They are something new created using two or more pre-existing material in its raw state. The strategy, as you might guess, is to create something new that has a whole different set of features. All the components of this new composite material do not have the same functionality over a stricture as they would on their own. The composite procedure is usually a means to an end. The people who handle this process are generally looking for something new to help them deal with the shortcomings of raw materials. The most common examples of this are the engineering and chemistry that went into creating diverse polymers or metals that are stronger and cheaper to produce.
The Techniques that Bring Composite Materials to Life
Using composite material in the manufacturing industry is not exactly a new take. The possibilities for application are endless, but most of the efforts are focused on structural applications to enhance the performance of pre-existing products. It is pretty common to see how procedures like jetting, vat polymerization, binder, powder bed fusion, material extrusion, direct energy deposition, and sheet lamination are used to create new products based on the sustainable effects they have on materials such as natural fibers from plants or animals. This is a great way to open new paths of research to different takes on 3D printing and rapid tooling.
The creation of molds using these products could be a game-changer when it comes to the ability to perform for a specific task that demands a unique production cycle. Rapid tooling could be used to create the most durable molds we have yet to see, or we could look forward to seeing molds that perform exceedingly well for a single time to recycle and reuse the materials on something else. Keep in mind that all these possibilities are still being explored. Given the ever-increasing competition of manufacturing workshops around the world, someone is bound to come up with something very unique that could change the face of larger structures.