"Nickel electroformed" tools development through stereolithography (SLA) for sheet metal forming~An evaluation study 2000-05-0272
Currently, advancements in Rapid Prototyping (RP) technologies have led to considerable amount of research activities and has been playing a major role in the area of tooling development for which Rapid Tooling (RT) term was coined. While rapid prototyping techniques are employed to make prototype tools, the basic idea of the rapid tooling is to produce prototype and zero series parts by using prototype tools so the parts truly represent the future production. This paper will present an evaluation of a RP and RT technique in developing tools (punch and dies) for sheet metal forming, which had been manufactured and tested. Both punch and die have been manufactured by combining Stereolithography (SL), RP technique, with nickel electroforming process. The stereolithography technique that had been utilized in developing models for the tools had been built with modeling pattern called Accurate Clear Epoxy Solid (ACES). The developed SL model of these tools will then use as a master model in preparing a mandrel in Nickel electroplating process. Nickel cell that had been generated on both punch and die will then be infiltrated by Aluminum-Filled Epoxy, as a backed-up material, which has a proper strength and durability to absorb compression force in the sheet metal forming process. This nickel-electroformed tool can be manufactured at best within a week. It is durable and can withstand extremely in working conditions. These tools have been evaluated in press metal forming (drawing) process of 0.8 mm aluminum sheets. In general, the tool shows a promising performance of forming an aluminum plate so, with minor improvements in tool design, it can be implemented in manufacturing functional sheet metal (drawing) components.