Rapid tooling, sometimes known as prototype tooling or bridge tooling, is a fast and cost-efficient way to carry out low-volume injection molding for a variety of plastic parts. Once the aluminum or steel mold has been created with the rapid tooling process, it can be utilized as part of a molding process to create multiple copies of a part. Rapid tooling is therefore used to create moldings for rapid prototyping needs in a shortened timeframe, or to bridge the gap before high-volume production.
At Leshine, we combine our experience, engineering capabilities and advanced technology to produce high-quality rapid tooling for prototypes and short production runs. Our team works directly with each customer to ensure that we create the perfect solution. Our experience speaks for itself. The team at Leshine is well-equipped to handle your rapid tooling and mass production mold making requirements.
Rapid production tooling offers a number of advantages over other forms of prototype production:
The rapid tooling process involves the creation of a mold using aluminum or soft steel, a stocked mold base, and hand-load inserts. Rapid tooling is ideal for small batch orders meant for use in marketing samples, product evaluations, and process design.
Traditional tooling is often prohibitively expensive for small projects. Our custom rapid tooling service offers a cost-effective, low-volume alternative in situations where large volumes of the part won’t be needed in the future. The rapid production tooling process is commonly used in industrial settings for prototyping or for diagnosing design issues.
At Leshine, we typically create rapid molds using our advanced CNC machine equipment, though we also sometimes use additive processes such as 3D printing.
An ideal choice for prototyping, aluminum mold tooling provides a cost-effective way to produce molded parts. Since they are easy to cut, aluminum molds can reduce tooling costs by 15–25% compared to other mold materials and reduce cycle times by up to 40%. This translates to a faster turnaround for our customers.
Aluminum evenly dissipates heat, which provides dimensional stability in tooling. This significantly reduces deformation and produces less waste during the production process. It is important to note that aluminum is not as strong as steel, so it has a shorter life cycle and is less useful in high-volume processes.
Steel is a sturdy, high-quality tooling material, though it is not suitable for all applications. Steel molds have a longer life cycle than aluminum and are therefore ideal for high-volume production. Steel can also be used to produce molds from engineering-grade plastics that are resistant to abrasion and corrosion.
Though it features multiple benefits, steel is a more expensive tooling material than aluminum and requires more turnaround time to produce molds and prototypes.
Can you imagine attempting to make prototype tools for over 30 components in just two months? Our customer desperately needed 200-300 sets of tail lights for testing, but mass production tools wouldn’t have been ready for eight months. They needed a solution to get good quality moldings by their deadline and at a much lower cost than production tools.
For this tail light project, we needed to fabricate a housing, reflector, light guide, bezel, an outer lens, and other components in a short period of time. The overall assembly size was about 600 x 400 x 150 mm, which is relatively large and the customer wanted to test real materials. In this case, 3D printing, CNC machining, and vacuum casting were not suitable, so prototype molding was the only option.
Rapid tooling is a fast and cost-efficient way to create a few prototypes in a selected material for function and aspect testing, as well as for low-volume production to test out the market.
This depends on the size and geometry of the parts. For an open and shut mold with regular size part such as 300 x 300 x 50 mm, moldings can be done within 10 days.
There is no limit to material choice. Any plastics available for mass production can also be used with the rapid tooling process.
Moldings from rapid tooling are end-use-parts quality. They are very close to mass production parts.
Normally, aluminum molds are good enough for +/- 1,000 shots, while Steel P20 molds can last for +/- 10,000 shots.