The future of 3D printing in toolmaking

3D printing has many applications in a variety of global industries. One area in particular that 3D printing has proven most beneficial has been in toolmaking. With the seemingly endless possibilities of 3D printing now being realised across the globe, many are eager to begin leveraging this innovative tech to both improve the manufacturing process as well as the efficiency of tool making itself.

Tooling is arguably one of the most important aspects of any production process. Each product requires different and often unique tooling based on preordained specifications. As this equipment is only often used for one off production, they are mostly discarded or stored after production has finished. With this arguably being a less environmentally friendly production process, as well as being costly and time consuming due to the used CNC machinery, manufacturers are always looking for more all-round efficient alternatives.

Manufacturers, business owners and tooling makers alike all aim to find a solution that will save time and reduce prototyping. This is why 3D printing has quickly become a new viable alternative. 3D printing not only has the ability to create complex, intricate shapes that traditional CNC machinery struggles with, it also uses only the exact amount of materials needed to make the product.

This in particular can be an extremely beneficial step forward for companies looking to become carbon neutral certified. 3D printing also utilises specialised 3D software which can accurately measure the dimensions of prototypes as well as test functionality before integrating more into the design. It is a technology which makes the entire process much simpler whilst improving the quality and saving all-important time and money.

3D printing is seemingly a limitless technology with never-ending possibilities and applications within manufacturing. It seamlessly combines many processes from design to development but equally, as with any relatively new technology it can be daunting for those used to more traditional manufacturing methods and machinery.

While anyone can learn 3D printing and its software, like any new tech it will take time and money to switch. Some companies may need convincing to invest when they have processes proven to be effective.

But for those who have integrated the tech into their manufacturing processes, it not only has simplified their work, but has demonstrated where traditional methods reach their limits. When new solutions must be found for design, construction and manufacturing, 3D printing enables a more design-driven process. Design will determine production, and not the other way around as seen in conventional production.

3D printing’s immediate capabilities in improving processes and increasing efficiency in toolmaking are certainly hard to ignore. Whether it is a technology that will be implemented into manufacturing processes is yet to be seen and will differ from company to company. But it is safe to say that over the coming years, we will see a steady increase in 3D printed tooling.

For more information or to speak to one of our experts about your next project, call 01527 558 282 or fill out our contact form.

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