3D Printing Offers a Giant Step for Short Run Injection Molds

This has to be one of the biggest (and most novel) innovations that 3D printing has to offer the world of traditional manufacturing – the ability to 3D print injection mold tools for short run injection molding.

In the video example above, we show our mold tools 3D printed in Digital ABS material (formerly known as ABS-like Digital Material). These mold tools (6 cavity, for ice-cream spoons) are then injected with real polypropylene at 220 degrees C.

The Digital ABS molds were used here for over 100 injection shots, producing a total of 600 spoons – and all with no visible deformation to the tools!

The ROI calculation presented at the end of this film is a real price comparison between this 3D printed example and two traditional CNC mold tool manufacturers (created in aluminum or steel) in South America. I think it is safe to assume the cost benefit ratio remains similar also for North America, Europe or the Far East.

Many thanks to Nadav Sella, our Application Sales Manager – who filmed this very instructive video!

This post is also available in: Chinese (Simplified), French, German, Japanese


  • César
    Apr 8, 2013 8:24 AM

    Do you have a version of this video in presentation format? It would be great to download and keep it as a reference.

    • Stratasys Staff
      Apr 8, 2013 8:24 AM

      Thank you for your interest in the video. Unfortunately, it is only available as a YouTube video. You can use the embed code from YouTube to include the video on a website or in most presentation software. You can find it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1eTs7gR3do
      All the best.

  • SYS
    Apr 8, 2013 8:24 AM

    A company in the UK called Rutland Plastics has also been using this process on a Connex350. We have a case study on our website here: http://www.sys-uk.com/case-studies/59-rutland-plastics

  • Ravi
    Apr 8, 2013 8:24 AM

    Hi will you pls give full details about short run injection molds.

  • Christopher
    Apr 8, 2013 8:24 AM

    Why would the 3D printed ABS mold not melt when the polypropylene is injected into it?
    If ABS has a melting temperature of 105 degrees C, and you’re injecting the polyproylene at 220 degrees Celius, I’d think that would melt and deform the mold?

    • Nadav Sella
      Apr 8, 2013 8:24 AM

      Hi Christopher,
      PolyJet materials like Digital ABS material used for the printed molds are Thermoset materials and not thermoplastics. thermoplastics material melt when subjected to high temperatures while the PolyJet materials will never melt. they will burn at around 800 deg C which is much higher then PP injection temperature.
      the 105 Deg you refer to is probably the HDT (heat deflection temperature) of the Digital ABS? not melting temperature.

  • Paul Dutch
    Apr 8, 2013 8:24 AM

    I see that the two tools in the video (one being shown used and one being shown opened with blue spoons) are different.
    The one that is shown to mould green spoons doesn’t have any alignment features, whereas the stationary blue spoon one does.
    Is the one a later variant of the other?


    • Nadav Sella
      Apr 8, 2013 8:24 AM

      Hi Paul,

      This is correct. the blue ones were injected prior to the green ones.


  • sophie creek
    Apr 8, 2013 8:24 AM

    Hi, I am currently having a traditional mould manufacturer make tooling for my short-run products – is 3D printing for ABS plastic (such as in video) available for new clients/jobs now? If so can you advise who to contact?

  • jamesmount
    Apr 8, 2013 8:24 AM

    Thanks for sharing this useful tutorials regarding the 3D injection modeling prints,but according to my knowledge when we are using polypropylene then polypropylene structure functionality is that it’s show only 2D format not in 3D format, can you provide the all details about the the 3B prints, thanks

    • Stratasys Staff
      Apr 8, 2013 8:24 AM

      Hi James, Is it possible for you to clarify your question? Which details are you looking for clarification on? thanks.

  • Katie Maurer
    Apr 8, 2013 8:24 AM

    3D printing works wonder in the plastic injection moulding but it takes long time to design the part. In traditional injection moulding machine, once we prepare the mould we can use it long time in the production line and produce a thousand products…..

    • Stephen Burg
      Apr 8, 2013 8:24 AM

      What is great about creating 3D printed molds for injection molding is that there are minimal or no design modifications that need to be done beyond what is originally designed for the traditional injection molding process. Also this process opens up the door for cheaper molds that allow for companies to pick up low volume work while keeping costs down and prototyping new products fast and cheaply.

  • Steve Waugh
    Apr 8, 2013 8:24 AM

    Well, this is such a fine initiative I must say. 3D have taken all the various field to a certain level. This is also a very well executed in the field of short run injection molds. Even the video is equally benevolent.

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