Analysis and Optimization of the Direct Polymer Additive Tooling Process Chain for the Production of Complex Geometries


Presentation Stage 2

Companies must develop and produce an increasing number of product variants more efficiently than their competitors, while at the same time production volumes per variant are decreasing and becoming more volatile. Processes such as Direct Polymer Additive Tooling (DPAT) promise potential in the prototype phase and small batch production. The use of polymer-based 3D-printed moulds for plastic components enables a fast, cost-efficient conversion of customer-specific product requirements into physical parts.

For the analysis of DPAT in connection with the PUR-RIM process and complex geometries, a part is designed with numerous features common to plastic components. First, the mould is manufactured in three 3D-printing materials, Keyence AR-G1L, Digital ABS (PolyJet), and Accura Xtreme (SLA). Measurements are carried out in the tools to determine the temperature resistance of the materials. The measurements with the polyurethane RG-53 result in non-critical maximum values. Primarily due to its smooth surface, Digital ABS proves to be the most suitable from a technological point of view. In three iterative steps, print volume is reduced by 32%. Improved venting geometry enhances component quality and reduces post-processing. Handling and durability are also improved. With a quick-release mechanism for the mould halves, manufacturing times per part are reduced by 42%.

Group Lead Additive Manufacturing Systems at the Machine Tool Laboratory (WZL)
RWTH Aachen University