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Rapid Tooling Types

Rapid tooling is a simple creation of a mold in a shortened period of time. A rapid-tooled mold is a good way to mold a few hundred of parts before running into high-volume production. Depending on the type of rapid tooling you are going to use, you may be able to get tens to hundreds of thousands of cycles out of the tool. There are different types of rapid tooling, each benefit depends on the required materials, technology, accuracy, consistency and size.


There are three the most common Rapid Tooling Types available include 3D printing in plastic, direct metal laser stintering and rapid tooling through traditional machining.

3D printing evolves to the point that some additive manufacturing machines can print a plastic injection mold. The molds can be created in a few hours which is very quickly. The molds are cheap to create compared to printing in metal.  The machines can create virtually any geometry needed. Today’s 3D printing technology doesn’t enable exceptional part tolerances. You may get a prototype run out of a 3D plastic injection mold. You won’t be able to get volume out of it.

Metal can be used to create a plastic injection mold by using together metal particles to make a solvent in a process called “sintering.” In rapid tooling, the sintering process will be completed by spraying a cloud of powdered metal into a laser beam, which allows manufacturer to “draw” the shape of your mold with the laser. This process can be done using a wide range of metals which includes stainless steel, titanium, or cobalt chromium. As the finished mold is made out of metal, it is better equipped to deal with heat transfer, pressures, and ejection capabilities.

While processes for Rapid Tooling came out, mold makers build molds using traditional methods like machining aluminum or steel will begin to increase the speed of those methods to finish. Rapid tooling refer to any tool which can be made fast. Some manufacturer can turn a metal mold around in a several days or a week.

Rapid tooling method has it limitation. If you need to cut a cavity of a shape, you’re limited by the cutter the company is using—you can’t cut a square corner with a round cutter. To solve this problem, manufacturer has to burn in the corner you need through EDM. The rapid tooling mold creation process is significantly faster than traditional machining of steel or aluminum, but it often requires finishing touches that can slow down the process once the mold is built.

If you have questions about your rapid tooling projects, contact TEAM Rapid at and let us know. One of our rapid tooling experts will be in touch with you as soon as possible!

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