[Injection Molding] 3D printing cuts injection mold production costs by thousands of dollars
Updated: Oct 27, 2022
A global automotive parts manufacturer in the US, is cutting the cost and time it takes to produce high-quality prototypes by using additive manufacturing to improve injection mold part production. By using 3D printing, the company is making new product design and development more flexible and is reducing time-to-market by up to six months, pushing the company ahead of the competition.
3D Printing for Injection Molding Applications
“With Covestro materials and supply chain collaboration we are building fully functional prototypes that are of such high quality and strength you can’t tell if they’re production parts or not. A process that used to take several months now takes just days from concept to having a part sitting on the table that is fully operational.”
-Engineering Manager, Global automotive parts manufacturer
By building collaborative partnerships to help enable the adoption of additive manufacturing, Covestro is helping the automotive industry reduce costs, cut production time and improve efficiency. One such business, a global automotive parts manufacturer, turned to Covestro to help. It wanted to improve injection molding processes for prototyping a variety of products for the Tier 1 and Tier 2 automotive supply chain. These parts are used globally by firms like Ford, General Motors, Chrysler and Hyundai. The business has won several industry awards and has been a pioneer in the development of electric vehicle technology. The company’s Engineering Manager says, “It was frustrating trying to find a fast and low-cost way to make high-quality tools for prototyping. We explored several options, but none delivered the right quality-to-cost balance. We knew of Covestro’s materials expertise and applications knowledge, so we decided to team up and ever since we have been working together to apply additive manufacturing to automotive injection molded part production.”
The company has replaced metal tooling for producing prototypes with ones made from additive manufacturing materials, including Covestro Somos® PerFORM, to make injection molded tools capable of producing highquality prototypes. Somos® PerFORM is a low viscosity composite stereolithography material that builds parts quickly, is easy to post-process and has excellent sidewall quality and detail resolution. The Engineering Manager says, “Somos® PerFORM is a tough material that withstands very high temperatures and is extremely dimensionally stable so you can replicate pretty much anything you can do with a steel tool. We’re able to get some magical parts that are really hard to beat. It has been pivotal to our success.”
The company had considered 3D printing prototypes but opted for an injection molded process because the parts it manufactures require prototypes that can be rigorously tested. Tools made from Somos® PerFORM make it possible to produce injection molded prototypes in highquality polymer materials used for durability testing. For example, the company uses another Covestro material, PA46 Stanyl® HGR2 from Covestro Engineering Materials. PA46 Stanyl® HGR2 is a high-performance aliphatic polyamide with a melting temperature of 295°C and offers excellent high-temperature mechanical performance, wear and friction properties and flow. To emphasize the quality of the Somos® PerFORM tools, as well as using PA46 Stanyl® HGR2 for prototypes, the company also uses it with P20 steel tools for massproducing final products.
Through its collaboration with Covestro, this automotive manufacturer has transformed the way it prototypes automotive parts, reducing costs, shortening R&D time and making product development and testing more efficient and flexible. The Engineering Manager says that an aluminum tool can take four weeks to make and costs around $15,000. Somos® PerFORM tools can be printed in eight hours and cost as little as $100.
This enables the company to identify problems early in the design phase quickly and cheaply. The Engineering Manager says, “Previously, if a customer wanted an early working prototype, I’d spend $15,000 on a single tool and I’d better get it right because changes were costly. With Somos® PerFORM I can make unlimited prototypes with different designs and configurations. It speeds the process up and makes it a lot more cost effective to experiment with different ideas.”
These benefits are helping the company develop new products for its customers, sometimes up to six months ahead of the competition.
A key factor in helping improve operations is the company’s partnership with Covestro. By sharing Covestro Additive Manufacturing materials, expertise and application knowledge, plus resources from Covestro Engineering Plastics, a solution to the company’s challenge was formed. The Engineering Manager adds, “We’ve collaborated closely with Covestro for several years to improve the application of additive materials to improve automotive manufacturing. Aside from the excellent materials, Covestro has provided us with advice, resources and tools to move development forward. It shows why Covestro is at the forefront of this new technology
Get your parts ready with our instant quotes or manually quotes.