Alpine Advanced Materials’ new process is reported to deliver complex injection molded parts more quickly and affordably than when using standard steel molds
August 25, 2022
DALLAS—A Rapid Prototype Molding (RPM) service recently introduced by Alpine Advanced Materials is reported to give clients a more rapid tool manufacturing option that provides a functional and testable part at a fraction of the cost.
According to a release from Alpine Advanced Materials, RPM Freeform Injection Molding complements Alpine’s suite of high-performance engineered materials and advanced design services. The process uses Addifab’s proprietary resin system and Nexa3D’s printers to deliver complex injection molded parts more quickly and affordably than when using standard steel molds, the company said.
“The clients we work with whose parts must meet various certifications—UL, FAA, and MIL-spec, among others—need to have a ‘real’ part to test against their real-world challenges. RPM facilitates that by getting testable parts into the field quickly,” said David Brantner, chief executive officer of Alpine Advanced Materials, in the release. “Think of companies bidding for military or aerospace contracts—it’s powerful to have data that backs up whether your components actually work.”
Rapid Prototype Molding is said to fill the gap between a 3D printed part, which can get a client close in shape but is limited by mechanical performance, and an injection molded part, which provides form and function but requires investment in tooling. Because it delivers production-level components at a relatively low cost, it is well-suited for low volume testing. By giving product designers the chance to fully prove a part before committing to a steel mold, RPM also allows for design iterations that make testing more dynamic, the company said.
“The design freedom Alpine can now offer their clients with Addifab Freeform Injection Molding opens the way to faster, cheaper, and greener product development,” said Carsten Jarfelt, chief commercial officer of Addifab in the United States, in the release. “Our technology supports product development with economical prototype tooling, cutting an average of 85 percent off the price of a first functional component, and can make it faster than ever before.”
Using RPM, Alpine clients can additively manufacture a tool cavity injection mold, a negative of the designed part, then create the prototype using the dramatically cheaper mold. Once produced, the mold is dissolved away, leaving an injection molded prototype with fiber alignment for strength and without the surface finish issues of 3D printing, according to the release.
With separable components, RPM also allows for two-part tools that can be used repeatedly for low volumes. These tools also convey form and function equivalent to that of a standard steel tool, the company said.
Alpine Advanced Materials designs and manufactures custom-engineered parts for demanding aerospace, defense, energy, and outdoor applications. The company said it offers experience across multiple industries, a collaborative approach, and deep expertise in designing for manufacturing.
Alpine’s flagship nanocomposite material, HX5®, is reported to offer the strength of aluminum at half the weight, along with environmental and thermal performance to withstand harsh environments. The material can be formed into complex shapes and easily coated without sacrificing strength, performance, or aesthetics, the company said.
“One of the biggest barriers in transitioning to advanced materials is the weighty cost and time commitment required to test actual parts,” Brantner added in the release. “Too often, the prospect of paying for a prototype that will cost tens of thousands of dollars stops innovation dead in its tracks. With RPM, we allow our clients across aerospace, defense, unmanned aerial vehicles, space, and outdoor [applications] to more easily tap into the power of new material and design technology for dramatically less time and money.”