5/23/2018 | 1 MINUTE READ

Transformative Tooling Through Additive Manufacturing

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The May 2018 issue of Additive Manufacturing magazine looks at unusual and unconventional applications for 3D-printed tooling.


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We’ve written at length about various ways that machine shops, moldmakers and OEMs use 3D printing to produce tooling such as assembly fixtures, mold cores/cavities, workholding devices and more. In fact, there are sections of our website dedicated to mold tooling and industrial tooling applications.

But are there other manufacturing sectors and industries utilizing 3D-printed tooling with success? Without a doubt, yes.

The May issue of Additive Manufacturing magazine looks at the ways 3D-printed tooling is transforming industries that might not be obvious users of the technology. For example, the precast concrete industry. The cover story of this issue explores how Gate Precast has found success in using large 3D-printed forms to pour hundreds of concrete windows to be installed on a skyscraper in New York City. The forms, made from carbon fiber-filled ABS via Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM), are proving to be more durable than the wooden forms typically used for architectural precast concrete.

Another manufacturing sector that can benefit from 3D-printed tooling is physical vapor deposition (PVD) coating. PMT Shielding Solutions is producing tools for the PVD process with its two 3D printers, tools that reduce both the assembly time and manual labor involved in masking off portions of the parts to ensure that only the correct areas receive the coating.  

Yet another example comes from the metalforming sector, which typically relies on costly and time-consuming machined punches and dies for custom press-brake work. A case study from Centerline Engineered Solutions shows that it’s possible to 3D print press brake tooling in a matter of days at much lower cost.

Also in this issue, find stories about new and emerging technologies for building solid metal parts in minutes and producing polymer parts at speeds like injection molding; how gas flow affects builds in powder bed-based metal additive manufacturing processes; and one university’s answer to the additive manufacturing skills gap.

View or download the May 2018 issue.


  • Thermwood 3D Prints Large Boat Hull Pattern

    Thermwood’s large-scale additive manufacturing (LSAM) technology enabled the fabrication of a 3,000-lb plug for a boat hull mold. The project illustrates how 3D printing could help reduce fabrication costs for marine composites. 

  • The Aircraft Imperative

    Reduce cost, reduce weight—to the extent that additive manufacturing can do these things, it represents a promising method for making aircraft parts. While important constraints currently prevent additive manufacturing from seeing more widespread use in aircraft production, these constraints might not be what you think. Here is a look at additive manufacturing within Boeing.

  • Video: Additive Manufacturing Advances at Caterpillar

    Stacey DelVecchio of Caterpillar describes how AM is moving forward within a large and established company. Today, there is tooling and aftermarket parts. Ultimately, the technology will empower engineers to realize parts and products “they never even dreamed possible.”