Direct Metal Tools

Metal parts for injection molding tooling inserts and for direct use have been built using the 3DPTM process and placed into use. ExtrudeHone Corporation has licensed the 3DPTM technology for the fabrication of metal parts and tools.

Parts have been created in a range of materials including stainless steel, tungsten and tungsten carbide. Printed parts are sintered for strength, then they may be infiltrated with low melting point alloys to produce fully dense parts. The 3DPTM process is easily adaptable to a variety of materials systems, allowing the production of metallic/ceramic parts with novel compositions.

The possibilities of this process include:

  • Direct production of injection molding tooling

  • Direct production of metal prototypes and end-use parts

  • Improved rate and dimensional control for injection-molded parts

3D Printing can be used to create tooling with integral cooling passages which are conformable to the molding cavity and near to its surface. Such channels can be printed in virtually any geometry and with virtually any interconnectedness. Tools with cooling passages can be used to control the temperature accurately and yield reproducible parts with predictable properties. Fast thermal response tooling can be created by printing passages for liquids near the surface and then providing a low thermal mass back-up structure, possibly by printing a truss structure (shown below). Textures may be printed onto the cooling channels themselves to further enhance heat transfer


A cooling passage printed conformable to the tooling cavity.

Fast thermal response tooling with conformal cooling passages with a cellular/truss structure behind it for thermal isolation.

With such tooling, the temperature of the tool can be raised before injection and then quickly dropped after injection. This results in demonstrated and significant improvements in part quality (by reduced residual stress) and increased production rate.

Injection molding tools and molded part (conformal cooling)

Cutaway of injection molding with conformal cooling

Finished metal tools by 3DP

Metal tool before and after infiltration

Metal tool with 3D truss structure for thermal isolation of injection mold cavity

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Copyright 1989-2000, 3DPTM Laboratory, MIT

This web site is maintained by Julie Baars Kaczynski
Last updated on Wednesday, June 28, 2000