3D Printing for Injection Molds

Contact Us

'Soft' metal 3d printed cavity inserts

Metal 3D printed cavity inserts are not actually «soft». We use the term «soft» to distinguish with the nowadays standard through hardened H13 (1.2343 or Orvar from Uddeholm). Here we reference cavity inserts made of stainless steel 17-4PH with the following specifications compared to P20 (1.2311 or Impax from Uddeholm) common tool steel:

Specification P20 17-4PH
Tensile strength, ultimate (MPa)
965-1030 1042
Yield strength (MPa)
827-862 660
Young’s modulus (GPa)
190-210 195
Density (%)
100 98

In order to optimize the cost of the printed inserts, post-printing machining should be kept to minimum
At least, insert fitting surfaces, parting surfaces and tight tolerance surfaces must be machined.
Component surfaces, if surface quality can be accepted -i.e. without special aesthetic requirements-, then machining is not required.
With BMD printed metal components, post printing machining is a fast and economic procedure, as only a single pass final finishing is required.

'Soft' plastic 3d printed cavity inserts

Real 'soft' inserts can be printed by stereolithography by using specially developped resins, like E-Tool 2.0 or 147 High Temperature with the following specs:

Specification E-Tool 2.0 147
Tensile strength, ultimate (MPa)
49.4 84
Tensile Modulus (MPa)
4660 3285
Flexural Strength (MPa) 82 126
Flexural Modulus (MPa) 5220 3926
Shore Hardness (Scale D) 89 94.5
HDT at 1.8 MPa (degC)
63 167

Although resins for molds is an active area for chemistry research and new improved materials are evolving every day, till today, 'plastic molds' are not qualified for all injection molding materials and have a very limited lifetime in terms of some decades of molding cycles.
Ask our Technical Department for specific applications.

H13 Through hardened 3D Printed Cavity Inserts

In normal toolmaking, cavity inserts manufacturing has the following workflow:

Workpiece Purchase>>Pre-roughing>>Roughing>>Stress Releaving>>pre-finishing>>Through Hardening>>Finishing>>Polishing.

It is now possible to integrate metal 3d printing into the toolmaking process with many different printing technologies (DMLS, BMD etc). However, although printed part tolerances and surface quality varies between different technologies, none of the printing technologies meets the standards for toolmaking. Post printing machining operations are always necessary.

So, by 3d printing we do not produce a finished cavity insert, but an 'enhanced' workpiece.

'Enhanced' workpieces from all printing technologies have only a minimal stock left to machine, but with BMD printing technology we have an additional advantage. After sintering we get an almost stress releaved metal part with minimal hardening warpage. So, with BMD there is no need for increased workpiece stock to compensate for stress releaving/hardening warpage.

The workflow is tranformed to:

Metal 3D Printing>>Thread Cutting>>Through Hardening>>Finishing>>Polishing.

Optimum Mold Cooling System

Cooling time is the most important factor that affect the cost of your products.

To optimize the cooling system, a mold designer must deal with both the optimum design and its manufacturability.

In Metal3D we have both the tools and knowledge to deal succesfully with both.

Extensive use of flow simulation tools and the ability to print the most complex conformal cooling channels.

Learn More