Carbon Composite Tooling – Graphite Additive Manufacturing and URT Group, both product sponsors of the Bloodhound (World Land Speed Record) Project, have been working together, as part of a technical partnership, to link additive manufacturing (3D printing) techniques with composite manufacture to enhance the production processes already employed.
The most successful example to date is the use of Graphite’s Ceramic-like SLA material to directly print mould tools for small, complex composite parts. This production route enables a faster and cost effective alternative to machining (several tools can be produced overnight concurrently where complexity costs nothing) and, with URT’s proprietary sealing process, a surface finish superior even to polished aluminium, can be achieved.
Further still, the tooling has proved to be robust when handled correctly and has to date already yielded over 30 mouldings without tooling damage/wear. With a temperature resistance of 200 °C, high performance pre-preg composite materials can be cured directly on these plastic tools.
Graphite’s Ceramic-like SLA material is suitable for main composite tools, loose tooling, patterns and even jigging. With its low moisture absorption, the material is stable and remains accurate over long periods of time, so will yield repeatable accuracy for tools and jigs used over longer production runs.