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Recent Researches in Manufacturing Engineering

Rapid Tooling by Three Dimensional Printing (3DP)

Manufacturing Engineering Department
Transilvania University of Brasov
29 EROILOR, 500036 Brasov
Abstract: The paper presents applications regarding of additive fabrication through the generic issue of RapidX.
The focus is on Rapid Prototyping (RP), Rapid Tooling (RT) and Rapid Manufacturing (RM). One of the most
popular RP/RT/RM technology used worldwide is 3D printing (3DP). 3D printing technologies can be divided
in the following groups: inkjet printing, fused deposition modelling, polymer jetting and so on. In this paper the
focus is on 3DP applications, mainly inkjet printing, to obtain in a rapid way, innovative tooling for rubber
parts manufacturing. This rapid tooling was made of composite materials. The research was developed at the
Industrial Innovative Technologies Laboratory within the PLADETINO (Platform for Innovative Technological
Development) interdisciplinary platform, Transilvania University of Brasov.

Key-Words: Rapid tooling, 3D printing, additive fabrication, composite material, rubber parts, flight stick
development time and cost of tool development is
made in [3].
In [1] is presented a rapid soft-tooling approach,
namely, aluminium filled epoxy resin tooling for
injection mould preparation.
An integrated CAD/CAM system for tyre mould
production is presented in [2]. This mould was made
from epoxy and created by CNC machining.
The purpose of this paper is to develop an
innovative manufacturing process for rubber parts.
Thus it is proposed a rapid tooling based on 3D
printing technology. The proposed tooling is made
of composite materials.

1 Introduction
Under the umbrella of RapidX [6] there are some
specific terms such as: Rapid Prototyping (RP),
Rapid Tooling (RT), Rapid Manufacturing (RM)
and Rapid Nanotechnology.
Rapid prototyping [1, 3, 5] represents a general
term, which describes a variety of systems that can
construct three-dimensional physical objects directly
from electronic data (CAD data) by additive
Rapid Tooling [3, 5] is the technology that adopts
RP techniques and applies them to tool and die
making. RT technology is classified as a soft tooling
process and a hard tooling process according to the
applied material. Tooling for short manufacturing
runs is often known as soft tooling [3] as these tools
are often made from materials such as silicon
rubber, epoxy resins, low-melting-point alloys, or
aluminium. Tooling for longer manufacturing runs
is known as hard tooling and is usually made of hard
tooling steels.
In direct tooling, the tool or the die is created
directly by the RP process. In indirect tooling, only
the master is created using the RP technology. From
this master, a mould is made out a material such as
silicone rubber, epoxy resin, soft metal, or ceramic.
Different approaches for rapid prototyping and
rapid tooling applications for rubber parts exist in a
more or less advanced stage. A comparison of rapid
tooling technologies based on tool life, tool


2 Rapid tooling at
University of Brasov


The most popular RP technologies [5, 6] used

worldwide are stereolithography (SL), selective
laser sintering (SLS), 3D printing (3DP) and
laminated object manufacturing (LOM).
3D printing technologies can be divided in the
following groups: inkjet printing, fused deposition
modelling, polymer jetting and so on.
The purpose of this paper is to present some RP/
RM industrial applications with focus on rapid
tooling (RT). These applications were developed
within the Industrial Innovative Technologies


Recent Researches in Manufacturing Engineering

Using Solid Works CAD software it was obtained a

3D model of the bellows, Fig. 2.

Laboratory, Manufacturing Engineering Department

from Transilvania University of Brasov.
The Platform PLADETINO (Platform for
Innovative Technological Development) [4] was
aiming at building a centre for interdisciplinary
development and research regarding the innovation
and the integration of the technologies of designing
and manufacturing the products, and also the
technologic management by on-line and long
distance processing of data.
The Platform is integrated in a research and
multidisciplinary training unitary structure of
Transilvania University of Brasov and it is the main
support of the research department D05 named
Advanced Manufacturing Technologies and
Under the umbrella of Integrated Technologies was
created a lot of laboratories, one of this being the
Industrial Innovative Technologies laboratory. This
lab was capable of allowing the development of
scientific research contracts with industrial
companies such as the following contracts: no.
18543/ 05.12.2008, no. 5516/ 23.04.2008, no. 6427/
19.05.2009, no. 6428/ 19.05.2009, no.1967/
18.02.2009, no. 5442/ 27.04.2010 and no. 1359/
3.02.2010. All of these contracts are focused on
Rapid X technologies.
In this paper is presented some results obtained
within the research contract no. 5516/ 23.04.2008.
Thus, it will be presented some results regarding the
rapid manufacturing of an original mould for rubber

Fig. 2 The CAD model of the bellows

Based on this 3D model of the bellows the author
designed an original mould for innovative
manufacturing of the bellows. A part of this original
mould, designed by the author is presented in the
Fig. 3.

Fig.3 The CAD model of the tool

In the second part of the paper is presented an
innovative manufacturing process of the bellows
mould using 3D printing technology.

3 Innovative design of rubber parts

The aircraft flight stick is a very complex assembly
composed from the following main parts, Fig.1:
stick assembly, bellows and inner parts.
In this paper it was designed an original bellows
within a Computer Aided Design (CAD) software.



Fig. 1 Flight stick assembly


Rapid tooling based on 3D printing

The ZPrinter 310 Plus rapid prototyping/

manufacturing machine, Fig. 4 was used at the
Transilvania University of Brasov, Department of
Manufacturing Engineering to produce the tool for
bellows manufacturing. ZPrinter 310 Plus creates
the model one layer at a time by spreading a layer of
powder and inkjet printing a binder in the crosssection of the part, Fig. 5. The process is repeated
until every layer is printed and the part is complete
and ready to be removed. This process belongs to
the powder-based RP/ RM systems which primarily
use powder as the basic medium for manufacturing.
Materials used include ZP 131 composite powder,
zb60 binder solution and Z-max epoxy for infiltrate.


Recent Researches in Manufacturing Engineering

important criteria for the majority of our users.

Thus, the parts will be placed on the build tray
with the smallest dimension in the Z (vertical)
axis. Taking into accord other criteria, in some
cases the part must be rotate around X, Y, Z
axis to find the optimal build position.
Material strength. The ultimate strength of the
part will be affected by its orientation within the
print box. The part will be strongest along the
Y-axis and the X-axis and less strong along the
Z-axis. This is because the cross sections are
printed in continuous strips along the Y-axis,
bands across the X-axis and laminated layers
along the Z-axis. This discussion only applies to
untreated parts, once parts are infiltrated, they
uniformly take on the strength characteristics of
the infiltrating material.
Part accuracy. The accuracy of the system
depends on the materials you choose. ZPrinter
310 Plus can use layers between 0.0875 mm and
0.2mm thick. It can be employ the anisotropic
scaling feature in the software to adjust for
expected shrinkage.
The processing stage is an automatically process
that follows some steps:
warming up at 38 the printer work
printing the part, layer by layer from the bottom
of the design to the top; The HP print head
applies a binder solution to the powder, causing
the powder particles to bind to one another and
to the printed cross-section one level below. The
feed piston comes up and the build piston drops
one layer of the thickness. The printer then
spreads a new layer of powder and repeats the
after the printing process is complete wait a
period of time to consolidate the part.

ZPrinter 310 Plus

ZD5 Powder
Recycling Station

Fig. 4 Z 310 Plus printer from Transilvania

University of Brasov

Fig.5 Three dimensional printing technology

The 3D printing process consists in three main
steps, Fig. 4: pre-processing, processing and postprocessing.
The pre-processing stage consists in the following:
prepare the printer bed powder, by spreading
powder from the feed bed onto the build bed to
create a smooth first layer;
import a data file (STL, PLY or VRML) into the
ZPrint software;
optimization of part position of the built tray;
simulate the manufacturing process layer by
There are several important characteristics that must
have in consideration within pre-processing stage:
Part Placement. The ZPrint software
automatically places the parts within the build
box to maximize build speed, the most


Walls printed at
higher saturation

Interior areas printed

at lower saturation

Fig. 6 Optimisation techniques of the 3DP


Recent Researches in Manufacturing Engineering

The Z Printer employs several techniques to quickly

build great parts, Fig. 6. First, binder solution is
applied in a higher concentration around the edges
of the part, creating a strong shell around the
exterior of the part. Within parts, the printer builds
an infrastructure by printing strong scaffolding
within part walls with a higher concentration of
binder solution. The remaining interior areas are
printed with a lower saturation, which gives them
stability, but prevents over saturation, which can
lead to part distortion.
The post-processing consists in:
removing of the part from the powder bed;
placement the part in recycling station to
remove any excess powder using compressed
infiltrating the part, Fig. 7 to add strength,
durability and to ensure vibrant colours.

Fig. 9 Tooling obtained by 3D printing

4 Conclusion
The paper presents industrial applications of the
manufacturing technologies, developed at the
Industrial Innovative Technologies Laboratory,
Transilvania University of Brasov.
This paper introduces a new rapid product
development with focus on flight stick bellows.
Thus we were proposed an innovative process of
design and rapid tooling of complex rubber parts.
The tool was produced by 3D printing technology.
Further research will be focused on complex rubber
parts manufacturing.

Bonded powder
and binder

displaces the air
within the part

[1] Cheah, C. M., C. K. Chua, H. S. Ong, Rapid
Moulding Using Epoxy Tooling Resin,
Manufacturing Technology, no.20, 2002, pp.
[2] Chu, C., H., Song, M., C., Luo V., C., S.,
Computer aided parametric design for 3D tire
mould production, Computers in Industry, no.
57, 2006, pp. 1125.
[3] Chua C.K., Hong K.H., Ho S.L., Rapid Tooling
Technology. Part 1 A Comparative Study.
Manufacturing Technology, No.15, ISSN 02683768, 1999, p. 604-608.
[4] Ivan, N.V., Platform for
Technological Development. Interdisciplinary
training and research platphorm / laboratories.
Bucuresti. CNCSIS-UEFISCSU, TopServ R98
Press, 2009, p.39-42.
[5] Kalpakkjian S., Schmid S.R., Manufacturing
Engineering and Technology, Pearson Pretince
Hall, U.S.A. ISBN 0-13-148965-8, 2006.
[6] Udroiu R., Ivan N.V., Rapid-X Using 3D
Printers, Supplement of Academic Journal of
Manufacturing Engineering, No.2, Timisoara,
ISSN 1583-7904, 2008, pp.199-205.

The resulting

Fig. 7 The process of elaboration of the composite


Fig. 8 Z-Bond or Z-Max epoxy resin used for part

Fig. 9 shows the tooling in a green body (without
infiltration with resin) obtained by 3D printing. The
tool was infiltrated with a Z-Max epoxy resin, Fig. 8
in order to improve the mechanical characteristics.
To obtain a smooth surface is necessary a manual
finishing by sand paper of the tool.