RE: CNC High Speed Machining as Alternative of Rapid Tooling

From: will pattison (
Date: Fri Jan 15 1999 - 17:01:17 EET

it seems to me, having read all these posts on rapid tooling, that
something is left to be said.

when the question of rapid tooling comes up, i find that people tend to
behave much like they do during design- they want to jump straight to a
solution without considering some fundamental questions. the result is the
kind of thing that caused some wise old-timer to say "when the only tool
you can see is a hammer, every job looks like a nail." that old-timer was
commenting on the fact that we often tend to look at the tool first, rather
than at the job to be done. whether it's design, prototyping, or rapid
tooling, we should really be thinking about the fundamental goal first-
fastening two objects together, so to speak. is that what we really want
to do? is the nail even the right fastener?

so, when someone asks me what i would recommend as a rapid tooling
solution, or more commonly, "do you recommend method "x" for this rapid
tool?", i answer by asking them what they hope to learn. do you want
material of choice? is surface finish your most important requirement? do
you need 1000 parts? will it need slides or inserts? only then do i even
begin to consider if it should be done by (in no particular order):

spray metal tooling
rapidsteel by dtm
direct aim
aluminum tooling
epoxy tooling
p20 tooling
cast steel or aluminum tooling
rtv tooling
back-filled duraform copper
machined nylon
machined and nickel plated graphite
albright tooling
high-speed machining
and so on......

my point is this- all of these methods can be made to work, and work well,
in the right circumstances. the "right circumstances", however, may not
occur unless the fundamental issues are addressed first. this may seem
trivial, but i see it happen every day. the result is that expectations
are not properly set, dissatisfaction results, somebody gets blamed, and
the product development cycle is stalled. i guess sometimes, even in the
environment of rapid everything, we need to slow down for a moment in order
to actually go faster.

will pattison
product development engineer
4d design
austin, tx

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