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Modernizing Metal Forming with FDM 3D Printers by Stratasys.
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Modernizing Metal Forming

Rob Levesque Senior Marketing Content Manager
Robert Levesque - January 09, 2023
Robert Levesque - January 09, 2023

3D Printing a Metal Forming Die

If you could make or buy your next metal forming die for 80% less than what it typically costs, would you be interested? What if you could get it at that lower cost but also 80% faster than it normally takes – would you want to know more? Those numbers aren’t made up. They’re actual data points from a tier-one aerospace supplier. They got those results by 3D printing a metal forming die for one of their applications instead of taking the traditional approach.

 

Manufacturers Best-Kept Secrets

If you’re skeptical, that’s a natural reaction. But if you’re not familiar with 3D printing – or additive manufacturing by another name – that’s the kind of benefit that’s achievable with this technology. It’s one of the best-kept secrets among machine shops and manufacturers familiar with the technology who perform metal forming operations. What makes it possible is the material technology used to make these 3D printed forming tools. 

 

Material Technology for 3D Printed Metal Forming Tools

For those unfamiliar with 3D printing, the conventional wisdom is that it’s just a prototyping tool, and it isn’t compatible with manufacturing, let alone metal-forming operations. But the reality is that polymer technology includes some very high-strength, high-performance materials, able to shape relatively heavy gauge metals, whether it’s through brake presses or hydroforming. Carbon-filled nylons, polycarbonates, and PEIs (polyetherimide) are several, to name a few. So it’s not an inflated claim but a fact that’s been proven countless times by fabricators looking to become more efficient and reduce costs.

 

In full disclosure, 3D printed metal forming tools do not entirely replace traditional metal tools. For example, high-volume production still requires hard tooling. However, there are scenarios where 3D printed tooling offers significant benefits over metal tools. Short-run production, hard-tool design validation, and bridge-to-production are typical use cases where 3D printed forming tools provide considerable benefit.

 

Discover More Resources

Curious to know more about that data point we told you about in the first paragraph? Find out more in this quick-read use case

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