Spray-formed tooling is a new approach for the making of stamping
dies and molds. The new rapid-tooling process involves spraying molten steel
over ceramic casts, which eliminates machining and other processing steps. Ford
is using spray-formed tooling for making torque-converter blade dies for
lift-gate brackets, wiper-motor brackets, instrument brackets, and inner-hood
reinforcements. "The spray-formed tooling process will shave millions of dollars
and several months off of the production process," says Dr. Charles Wu, director
of the Ford Manufacturing Systems and Vehicle Design Research Laboratory. The
technology is an all-inclusive rapid-tooling process that includes die
development, design, and construction. Envelope size for the initial dies was 1
sq ft, but the size is expected to grow to 8 x 8 ft. For more information,
contact Henry Fradkin, Tel: (313) 594-1993, Fax: (313) 323-2647 or Joseph A.
Szuba, Tel: (313) 845-8226, Fax: (313) 323-1129.
An in-depth survey of 700 current and future users of 3D printing holds few surprises, but results emphasize some major trends already in progress. Two standouts are the big growth in end-use parts and metal additive manufacturing (AM) most respondents expect.
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