The term Rapid Tooling (RT) is typically used to describe a process which either uses a Rapid Prototyping (RP) model as a pattern to create a mold quickly or uses the Rapid Prototyping process directly to fabricate a tool for a limited volume of prototypes. RT is distinguished from conventional tooling in that:
- Tooling time is much shorter than for a conventional tool. Typically, time to first articles is below one-fifth that of conventional tooling.
- Tooling cost is much less than for a conventional tool. Cost can be below five percent of conventional tooling cost.
- Tool life is considerably less than for a conventional tool.
- Tolerances are wider than for a conventional tool.
We do not intend to comprehensively cover all types of RT in this narrative. In addition to Silicone Rubber Molding (SRM), we present Composite Molding and Direct AIM (ACES Injection Molding). The field of RT is expanding rapidly and information on many of the new methodologies is still changing.