Abstract

Although the initial and primary use of layered manufacturing is rapid prototyping, demands of applying it to rapid tooling is growing dramatically in recent years, and using it to rapid tooling is making more and more sense in terms of saving more time and more money. There are different ways of applying layered manufacturing technology to rapid tooling, such as direct and indirect tooling, hard and soft tooling, using machines from different vendors, and applying to sand casting, investment casting, die casting, injection molding, etc. Furthermore, what accuracy and surface roughness can be provided to production tooling is another major consideration in rapid tooling. As a result, there are many challenges and research opportunities, in addition to many successful cases. Consequently, what layered manufacturing can and cannot do for rapid production tooling will be the focus of this paper.

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