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Rapid production of tooling

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Success in rapid results

So long as there are plastics and new, innovative designs, there will be a demand for tooling workshops. So long as there is a demand for the competitive edge, there will be the need for time saving tool designing methods.

Industrial Technologies

With the advent of innovative SME manufacturers introducing competitive products, the need has arisen to make new tool design methods that will facilitate a quick-to-market product design. Tooling shops in the plastics industry are the nerve centre of innovation and new design. Pre-computerised methods involved prototype trouble shooting, adaptation and considerable refinement through a number of time consuming and expensive test runs. The RPTOOL project, as part of the BRITE/EURAM 3 programme to make European industry more competitive especially on the SME level, has developed a group of techniques for direct production of tooling. Utilising Laser Sintering Techniques (LST), Concurrent Engineering methods and based on the most advanced technologies for manufacturing such as Rapid Prototyping and Tooling, the project aims at reducing product design times. The idea behind the development was to establish a smoothly integrated facility in which tool development for the plastics industry is enhanced from its initial design phase right through to its finishing stages. Rapid tool design is engineered through a simulation of the plastics or rubber injection moulding which optimises design methods. Since a great deal of the SME industry is based on short-run product manufacturing, it makes good sense to be able to adapt and develop new designs at a rapid scale without the long and drawn out prototype development stage that would seriously undermine SME economic competitiveness. With this in mind, the RPTOOL incorporates techniques for producing tool inserts, adaptations, extensions or "small changes" to a moulding tool that allows flexibility in product manufacture. For example, this means that the mould used for producing car bumpers for one brand name can be slightly adapted to manufacture car bumpers for another brand name without initialising the expenses involved in developing an entirely new tool. Therefore, allowing SME's to adapt and design in a rapid, flexible manner, gives them the means by which to improve their competitive edge.

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