Integration of RSP Tooling with Rapid Prototyping for Die Casting Applications
Die casting can quickly produce intricate, high quality metal components in high volume. However, die casting dies continue to be manufactured through the use of machining practices, materials, and heat treatment practices developed many years ago. The need for innovation in die casting is reflected in recent R&D projects. These projects seek to improve the turnaround time of tooling for making prototypes, and to develop a better understanding of the microstructure, chemistry, and heat treatment of hot forming die steels that lead to die life extension. In this project, a new and unique Rapid Solidification Process (RSP) technology will be introduced to the die casting industry that will reduce lead time for prototyping and producing die casting tooling. In addition to productivity increase, use of RSP Tooling technology will also result in a substantial reduction in energy use and scrap than conventional machining practices.
RSP Tooling is a spray forming technology tailored for producing molds and dies. The approach combines rapid solidification processing and net-shape materials processing in a single step. The concept involves converting a mold design described by a CAD file to a tooling master using a suitable rapid prototyping technology such as stereolithography. This is followed by spray forming a thick deposit of tool steel on the pattern to capture the desired shape, surface texture and detail. The resultant metal block is cooled to room temperature, separated from the pattern, and squared up to fit a standard holding block. The turnaround time for die casting tooling is significantly less than traditional tooling.