How to Utilize 3D Scanning to Minimize Costly Tooling Recuts
Plastic and sheet metal manufacturers and fabricators face similar issues in the form of costly tooling recuts. From the injection molding machine used to create a computer mouse to the stamping machine shaping sheet metal for an engine bracket, tooling is mission critical and can cause some of the largest workflow problems in a plant.
The Traditional Solution
The standard practice for most tooling is to run a CAD simulation for building the tool to determine how the warpage or windage must be calculated. The first run is then based on the simulation, but it is rarely perfect.
In most cases, the first cut of a part with a new tool is measured and analyzed using a coordinate measuring machine (CMM). This gathers hundreds of data points that can then be used to inform modifications of the nominal CAD data of the tool.
With injection molding, the testing phase could include a second attempt, which is also likely to be inaccurate. In the stamping process, these initial parts will likely be inaccurate due to springback, the elastic recovery common in sheet metal.
Three or four times tooling modifications is normal, but each one of these scans and tooling recuts can cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the tool and the complexity of the changes.
And when the production milling machine is waiting on the tooling to come back from the quality lab, it’s not cutting productive parts, costing an organization time and money.
3D Scanning Provides a Substantial Improvement
With 3D scanning, after the first run using the new tooling, a 3D point cloud of the entire product surface is captured. The scan captures up to 95% of the part, providing millions of data points instead of only hundreds.
This data can then be overlaid with the nominal CAD model. This comparison increases the likelihood of having the correct tooling on just the second try, rather than the third or the fourth.
Quick triangle mesh generation using high-quality data reduction
Using the 3D data in the recut, engineers can use the CAD tool to hand-modify the tool’s geometry. The process of hand-morphing, unfortunately, can take days. However, with the data captured in the 3D scan and the nominal CAD data, some software platforms can automatically adjust the drawing to create a perfect tool in just hours. The result is a workpiece requiring only one recut to be finished.
STL data 3D color map and CAD comparison.
Reduce Tooling Recuts with Complete Measurement
Though CMM inspection of machined parts is the traditional method for evaluating tooling, 3D scanning technology is a quicker and more effective, affordable and user-friendly means of reducing tooling recuts. The substantial dataset created by a 3D measurement and the right software can help you cut tooling design time down from days to hours and recut versions from three or four down to one. For any organization, these efficiencies improve workflow and deliver huge cost savings.