Prototype Component Manufacture
PU or Production Intent Material
ATS UK has three vacuum casting systems in-house.
Vacuum casting is a fast, low cost technique for producing smaller prototypes in PU materials, that enables the user to evaluate moulding designs without committing to the delays and expense of production tooling. The system is capable of reproducing intricate designs with complex internal detail and surface finish, comparable to injection moulded components, and is suitable for producing a limited quantity of working prototypes or production parts.
Small undercuts can be tolerated due to the flexibility of the silicone mould. Most of the polyurethane casting materials available for the process can be pigmented to match RAL colours for aesthetic evaluation.
In most instances, a silicone mould will reproduce up to twenty castings with only a gradual deterioration of the surface quality of the mould. ATS UK can produce larger numbers for one tool using its Camattini vacuum casting machine, or by using multiple tooling with the MCP 001 and 004 machines.
An original part or Stereolithography model can be used as a master. Textured surfaces can be replicated and inserts can be moulded into the part.
Standard lead time is six working days from receipt of masters or CAD data to production of first castings.
A wide range of polyurethane resins is available with properties similar to rubber, ABS, polypropylene, polycarbonate etc. Polyurethane resins can be pigmented to RAL or BS colours for aesthetic evaluation. Accuracy ± 0.2mm with a repeatability of ± 0.1mm.Advantages of Vacuum Casting
- 10-20 components per single imp tool
- Multi-cavity tooling for cost effective batch production
- 6-10 Day Delivery
- Accurate to +/- 0.2mm
- Surface finish matched to VDI or supplied sample
- Colour matched to RAL, Pantone or supplied sample
- Over moulding and insert moulding
- RF shielding and electroplating of components
- Tape free split lines for intricate components
- Overall tool size of 1000mm X 1000mm X 800mm (MCP 004 Vacuum Casting machine).
This system is perfect for projects requiring 1-300 parts where budgets are tight and lead times short. First off components are produced in 6-10 days with no post finishing required. Your specified surface finish and component colour are automatically repeated with each tool operation.
- High quality, coloured, textured or polished components
- Wide range of materials
- Over moulding and insert moulding.
Reaction Injection Moulding RIM
Reaction injection moulding (RIM) is a process where a fast reacting PU (polyurethane) resin is low pressure injected into a mould. This process conveniently fits between vacuum casting and thermoplastic injection moulding in the prototyping / manufacturing chain.
This is a cold injection process that does not require pre-heating of moulds or post curing of castings. Larger sized components can be produced and several moulds can be cast consecutively, resulting in quicker production times. (Case study BMW Mini).Tools are made from silicone, model board or aluminium, and can yield anything from 50 up to 1000+. This process is mainly used for larger and simpler parts with a typical wall thickness of 2-3mm+.
As with vacuum casting, a wide range of production simulant materials is available, offering a wide range of properties: rigid or flexible; solid or foamed, with a density as low as 40 kg/m³. Rigid self-skinning materials, which have hard, solid surfaces enclosing a foam core, can be moulded to produce lightweight but rigid components.
Rigid and flexible RIM components are used extensively in:
- Exterior and interior automotive applications
- Large machinery
- Domestic appliances
- Housings for electrical goods
- Office furniture
- Sporting goods.
- Quick manufacture of tooling using RP technology masters or patterns
- Relatively low tooling costs
- Tough, durable, flexible and rigid components
- High quality and large component size
- High impact strength and dimensional stability
- Flexibility, low cost high or low volume production
- Inserts and metal reinforcement can be over moulded into components
- Good thermal, electrical and sound insulation properties.
- Can be flame retardant to meet UL 94 V0 environmental compliance.
Rapid resin or aluminium tooling is utilised to produce prototypes parts in production intent materials for use in product testing and evaluation.
First off prototype parts for initial styling prove out, these parts can be manufactuted very quickly from A surface data only.
Vacuum FormingUsing prototype tooling parts can be manufactured, hand timed and validated to CAD data for prove out, before production tools are commissioned.
Vacuum forming is an ideal method of producing plastic products as it offers a low cost alternative to injection moulding. The vacuum forming process has many advantages, since it gives customers the ability to produce products in small production runs, maintaining an accurate duplication of the original at a relatively low unit cost.
ATS UK can provide all your vacuum forming tool requirements. This type of tooling offers greater flexibility in terms of product size, wall thickness, and allowing for potential modification requirements. At ATS UK, we manufacture MDF, ureol or aluminium vacuum forming tools, cut by our comprehensive range of CNC machining centres. (link to plant list)
Using prototype tooling, parts can be manufactured, hand timed and validated to CAD data for prove out, before production tools are commissioned.