This paper reports the results of a study designed to assess the extent to which layer manufacturing processes were able to produce production quality tools for transfer moulding of elastomer compounds. The specific layer manufacture process considered was the DTM RapidSteel process. Tools produced using this process were used in industrial trials to assess productivity benefits arising from the use of conformal heating channels. Thermocouple gauging of the tools was used to assess the effectiveness of both conventional electrical platen heating and the conformal channel heating. It is concluded that conformally heated RapidSteel tools offer significnt productivity and process repeatability benefits when compared to conventional tooling for transfer moulding of elastomer compound. Cost modelling of the moulding process indicates that these productivity benefits translate to significantly reduced life cycle costs for the manufacture of all but the smallest batch sizes.
Dalgarno, K. W., Stewart, T. D., & Allport, J. (2001). Layer manufactured production tooling incorporating conformal heating channels for transfer moulding of elastomer compounds. Plastics, Rubber and Composites, 30(8), 384-388. https://doi.org/10.1179/146580101101541778