RE: CNC High Speed Machining as Alternative of Rapid Tooling

From: Lytle, Tom (
Date: Fri Jan 15 1999 - 19:11:09 EET

I agree with both of you. Our company is under incredible pressure to get
products out the door faster and cheaper. I have conducted extensive
research into the capabilities of the current RP tooling systems as well as
rapid machining technologies. We have yet to find a good fit for our needs.
We typically only need a few hundred parts, but our materials (polysulfone,
polyetherimide, polyphenylsulfone) and tolerances +/- .005 or tighter
eliminate most of the RP tooling methods. I am currently working with Terry
Wholers to select an RP based method that will work for one of our less
complex projects. Our two forays into the rapid machining areas have not
been terribly successful. In fact one of the projects was a complete
disaster. In my opinion, the selection of the RP tooling process is driven
by 1) part materials needed, 2) part functionality, 3) part design
complexity and tolerancing. If you don't do your homework up front and
match the process to the part and material the RP method may not work.
After one or two failures, management will be gun shy and won't try it
again. Overall I am optimistic about the quick improvement in the RP
tooling technologies. There are some very promising methods that are just
around the corner. It they perform as advertised, they will give standard
tooling a good bit of competition in some areas.

Tom Lytle
Senior Design Engineer
Sulzer Carbomedics
Austin, Texas

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Wade Williams []
> Sent: Friday, January 15, 1999 1:01 PM
> To:
> Cc: '';
> Subject: Re: CNC High Speed Machining as Alternative of Rapid Tooling
> Roger that, Will! You've hit the nail on the head.
> We have specialized in RTV tooling and run into a lot of prejudice or
> misinformation about what we can accomplish. PDSI recognizes the
> industry-wide
> dedication to advancing technology and we applaud it. But just like Will
> mentions, results, especially with maintaining budgets and meeting
> deliveries,
> can be the most critical concerns for some projects.
> Is price the issue? Is budgeting and JIT inventory key? Do you want the
> flexibility of a few parts now and hundreds later? Do you need 6 dozen
> parts
> in a week? What key physical characteristics do you require of the
> materials?
> WIll there be UL testing.
> Each job is unique and hard to fit in a standardized program. That is
> what RP
> results are all about. Even though the future of the RP industry relies
> on
> technological advances and the patience to see them through, there are
> still a
> lot of hammers in those service bureaus that work very well.
> Wade Wlliams
> will pattison wrote:
> > 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
> > expresstool
> > polysteel
> > 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
> >
> > For more information about the rp-ml, see
> For more information about the rp-ml, see

For more information about the rp-ml, see

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