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Molded bat - Wilson Sporting Goods

It has always pained me to "no quote" projects due to an unusual material request. That ends today!

We are thrilled to announce that we are integrating blazing fast and low cost injection molding services via 3D printed tooling into our production capabilities. We do this by integrating Nexa3D’s new Freeform resin on our existing NXE400 DLP systems in conjunction with their new desktop injection molding system. By combining the speed and cost of additive manufacturing with the massive material selection available for injection molding, we have added an extremely unique and exciting addition to our technology portfolio.

Low volume injection molding customers should see an 85% reduction in cost and lead time compared to traditional steel tooling methods.

As this is a new technology we are trying to be conservative with our scale and promises. At this time we anticipate shipping sample parts in 3-4 weeks. Our goal is to offer 1-2 week lead times with expedite options as soon as possible. Initially max part size is capped at 5″x5″x3″. We also have plans to integrate this system into our Instant Quote Tool.

We offer stock resins such as ABS, PP, PC, HDPE and more. Maybe even resins like Ultem and PTFE if there is demand. We will also source custom resins on demand. Lead times may vary due to material availability. These molds do not limit the resins we can shoot in them. Glass and aluminum filled composites, high temp resins – we welcome your most exotic challenges!

This service is immediately live and more product and service data will be published in the coming weeks.

For customers interested in bringing this technology in house we also distribute these systems.

Available Injection Molded Materials

Available does not mean in stock and lead times may vary. Specific grades, colors and additives may require an MOQ. RM will only stock basic materials and colors with expected high demand.

Please note that even if materials are 3D printable, injection molding will yield better mechanical properties and surface finish, particularly when compared to filament materials like ABS, PC, PET, PPSF and Ultem. Filament materials exhibit 75% reduced mechanical properties between the Z layers. Molded parts will be 100% isotropic.
PlasticBenefitsApplicationsNotes3D Printable?
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)General purpose plastic. Cheap, rigid and dimensionally stable. Very popular plastic for a reason.Cosmetic parts, consumer products, electronics devices For best results follow best practices for injection molding part design. Not suitable for snap fitsYes
POM or Acetal (Polyoxymethylene)Durable, rigid, strong, lubricious, solvent resistant, elastic, low creep, excellent fatigue resistance.Gears, pumps, impellers, conveyor parts, blades and scrapers, food contact surfacesStiff, stable and durable, a staple of automation applications. Low friction and approved for food contact.No
PMMA or Acrylic (Polymethyl Methacrylate)Clear, glossy, scratch-resistant, stable shrinkage. Naturally UV resistant.Light pipes, diffusers, shades, outdoor coversCan be brittle, requires significant draft, poor chemical resistance; printed molds will not have optical clarity, diffused finish similar to SLANo
PC (Polycarbonate)Clear, strong, impact resistant, stable shrinkage, heat resistance, high cosmetic finishes.Lighting, electronics, automotive and aerospace, phone housings, medical devices, safety glass.Top mechanical properties. Poor chemical and UV resistance without additives. Often fire retardant and medical/food grade.Yes
PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)Good moisture barrier properties, stiff and flexibile, food contact clearBottles (food grade), packaging, clam shells, snap fitsVery poor UV properties and not the highest mechanical strengthYes
PA or Nylon (Polyamide)Balanced stiffness and flex, reinforced options for high strength and temperature tolerance, Chemical resistant.Thin-walled parts, gears, bearings, structural components.Very common material for mechanical applications, high warp potential, hygroscopicYes
HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)Extremely high impact UV and chemical resistance, high shrink, low dimensional stability, inexpensive. Very low stiffnessOutdoor furniture, containers, toys, gas and other chemical contact applicationsUltimate in chemical resistance. Extremely low cost. Beloved in chemical and food applications. Very easy to clean. High shrinkage makes it hard to control toleranceNo
PP (Polypropylene)Cost-effective, impact resistant, flexible, acid/base resistant, floats. Very low stiffnessLiving hinges, snap fit lids, packaging, medical devicesSimilar to HDPE in stiffness and chemical resistance. Lower Density than HDPE and more flexibile - semi-rigidYes
PPSU (Polyphenylsulfone)High-temperature tolerance, dimensional stability, toughness, sterilizable.Medical instruments, food contact surfaces, sterilization trays, automotive and aircraft parts.Can be difficult to mold, sensitive to organic solvents and hydrocarbons, does not accept color additives wellYes
PEI or Ultem (Polyetherimide)High-temperature, flame retardant, Low toxicity/off gassing, strong, stable, chemically resistant.Medical and chemical instruments, Passenger aerospace, transit and rail (where FST rating a requirement,) HVAC, lighting.Top choice for transit applications - not many materials rated for smoke toxicity. Great mechanical, thermal and chemical propertiesYes
PEEK (Polyether Ether Ketone)High-temperature, flame retardant, strong, stable, chemically resistant. Bearings, pistons, cable insulation, drones and aircraft.Highest standards in mechanical and thermal properties. FST rated. Extremely expensive resin.No
TPU/TPEFamilies of elastomers from shore 5 - 95A; medical and food gradeElectronic insulators and strain relief, seals, gaskets, hoses, grips, end effectorsExtremely high compression, rebound, and stretch properties. Wide range of hardnesses. Chemical and abraison resistantYes
SiliconeWide range of LSR resins with high heat and tear resistance; medical and food gradeprosthetics, gaskets, seals, end effectors, lab equipment, medical devices2 part system requires extra mixing and cure time, highly coveted in many industriesNo
Custom Material / Customer SuppliedGive us your toughest challenges!Special colors, composites and additives. Glass, carbon, aluminum fill. UV resistance, lubrication and other additives. Special grades of listed plastics.Customers can supply materials or pay us to source them.N/A
The full 3D printing and injection molding system, including mold disolving bath.

Understanding Freeform Injection Molding

Freeform Injection Molding, developed by Danish company Addifab, accelerates injection molding by 3D printing the molds for material injection. This process vastly reduces the time and cost traditionally associated with the manufacture of molds, which are often outsourced and can take weeks or months to produce. With FIM, mold creation time is slashed to mere hours, offering significant efficiency gains.

Key features of FIM include:

  1. Soluble Molds: The 3D printed molds are soluble, allowing for the creation of parts with complex geometries previously unachievable via injection molding. After use, these molds dissolve, leaving behind the intricately molded part. Molds designed normally yield 150 – 400 units.
  2. Thermal Properties: These molds are excellent insulators, preventing heat loss from the injected material. This characteristic enables rapid startup and operation of injection molding machines, bypassing lengthy temperature adjustments. The mold are very heat resistant allowing for many shots and very high heat and abrasive materials compared to other 3D printed tooling.
  3. Finish and Material Freedom: The drawbacks of 3D printing has always been a lack of qualified materials. Injection molding has the most qualified materials of any manufacturing technology in the world and almost all of them can be shot via the FIM system. DLP printers also offer the highest finish quality of any 3D printing technology and quality mold finish means quality part finish.
Disolvable molds for impossible parts - combining the design freedom of 3D printing with the materials of injection molding

Nexa3D NXE 400: Integrating 3D Printing and Injection Molding

Our partnership leverages Nexa3D’s NXE 400 3D printing platform, known for its size and speed, to scale up the FIM process. The NXE 400, one of the fastest DLP printers on the market, significantly hastens the 3D printing of molds, offering a substantial size increase for the FIM process. It enables the production of larger parts or a higher volume of smaller parts within the same time frame. This process can produce molds for industrial sized machines. Molds are typically designed as inserts into larger aluminum blocks.

Benefits of FIM in Production

  1. Rapid Prototyping and Production: The FIM process facilitates a rapid transition from CAD file to finished part, with the ability to print molds overnight. This speed is ideal for fast-paced product development and low-volume manufacturing.
  2. Cost-Effectiveness: FIM is significantly less expensive than traditional tooling methods. The savings are particularly pronounced in scenarios where design iterations are frequent or where low production volumes do not justify the expense of traditional molds. If you are molding high volumes of parts FIM is not the technology for you.
  3. Material Versatility: Unlike all additive manufacturing processes, FIM is not limited by material constraints. It can accommodate the most demanding engineering plastics and composites. FIM shines because many customers cannot find another way to make the parts they need in low quantities of very specific resins.

FIM Video Overview

Micah is Vice President of Sales and Marketing and cofounder at RapidMade, Inc. He has been in the guts of industrial 3D printers before overseeing a national sales expansion. During 13 years of manufacturing he has seen it all, and still works late hours answering emails and updating the website.