5 Tips For Tooling Design Using FDM Composites

Find Out the Benefits of 3D Print Composite Tooling Design

There are two significant problems with conventional composite tooling methods. First, the processes are expensive. Second, they are time-consuming. What is the way around these issues? FDM 3D printing.  FDM is so efficient it has the potential for disrupting the composite tooling supply chain.  Major production firms have realized this and are now adopting the process more and more.

Tooling Design Using FDM Composites

FDM composite tooling has a few obvious advantages that manufactured tooling lacks. FDM tools are made to your specific manufacturing process needs. As complex as those may be, they will not cost you a lot of lead time or money.

FDM tooling has a design process that is driven by the parameters for the end product such as pressure, bagging or cure cycle. For instance, the materials must be chosen ahead of time relative to the cure cycle. Bagging and pressure choices also impact the overall construction and the design style choices made.

FDM tooling is done in two distinct styles which include the shell style or the sparse style. FDM allows designs to be complex or simple. This all depends on what the application ultimately requires. There are virtually no design limitations with FDM 3D printing.

Most shell-style tools use up less material. This makes them faster to build with than the sparse style tools, especially for envelope bagging. Sparse style tool designs use a base shell tool, but the shell is reinforced with the construction of an internal fill pattern. When tool rigidity or surface bagging are needed, sparse style tools are more appropriate.

No matter what the tool style design involves, designers should work to reduce material usage and should optimize print time. They should also focus on improving the quality of an application.

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Things To Make FDM Composite Tooling More Cost Effective

Use a minimal amount of materials

This will keep waste down. Do this by:

– Tailoring the tool for its intended use.

Remember that repairing or developing the tool does not involve the same degree of construction that producing the tool does.

– Making the design from a composite laminate and not an existing tool.

This reduces excess bagging. Note that FDM tooling requires approximately 2-3” more than the EOP for bagging.

– Printing edge bagging using sparse style tool designs

Make sure you print them with open ends and 2-inch large air gaps.

Doing the above things reduces the material used and will improve the air flow as the cure cycle stage begins. You can also support the use of minimal materials by creating self-supporting angles.

Reduce Build Time

There are things that can increase the build time. These include creating overhanging features which always need support materials during printing. Support materials create more waste. If you create self-supporting angles you eliminate the need for extra material and will save on all materials in the long run.

Make sure that the layup of the surface is printed vertically using the least support material possible. Using vertical orientation allows you to get the best finish on the surface and it also results in less stair stepping. This further reduces the necessary post-process work time. Flat builds, it should be noted, use more support material and they also have a lower resolution on the layup surface.

Use Large Layer Thicknesses

Make slice heights between 0.013 and 0.020 inches. Doing so will reduce print time dramatically and will contribute to less density in sparse style tools. Depending on the orientation of the build, this will also lower costs without impacting the finish of the tools.

Stay Away from Intricate Designs

Things like rosettes measure about .005 inches in depth and do not print as reliably as other slices do. To make an intricate design use a trim tool during post-processing.

With the tips above you are sure to save money, save on waste and boost your efficiency. These things will make FDM composite tool operations more advantageous for you.