HP MJF Foundry Tooling

3D Printed Foundry Pattern Tooling

Forerunner 3D Printing was approached by Great Lakes Casting about the possibility of using our HP MJF 3D printing process to produce HP MJF foundry tooling. Traditionally low volume or prototype tooling is made of Teak but GLC was looking for a method of producing this tooling faster and more cost effectively for their customers. After initial discussions and basic research the idea appeared to have merit but a test needed to be designed in order to validate that HP MJF printed Nylon 12 would hold up to the harsh environment that traditional Teak or metal foundry tooling is subjected to. If you are interested in 3D Printed core box’s you can skip to the bottom of this page to find out about our work in that area as well.

A pyramid shaped part was devised that could be bolted into an existing metal casting pattern currently being run at GLC so that it could be subjected to the sand filling process that is used on a DISAMATIC line.

HP MJF Foundry Tooling -
Untested pyramid fresh off the HP MJF 3d Printer.

This harsh environment that the HP MJF Foundry Tooling would be subjected to is due to how a DISAMATIC line functions:

HP MJF Foundry Tooling - Disa sand molding process

The test pyramid tooling was bolted onto one of the tooling plates that formed the molding chamber that the sand is blasted into. This causes it to be sand blasted at a high pressure each time the machine cycles to produce a mold. During initial conversations about the potential validity of the Nylon 12 material that the HP MJF printer uses the question was raised if plastic would hold up to this environment. The pyramid was visually inspected throughout the 13,000 test cycles and while it was obvious due to the color change of the part that the pyramid was wearing down, no major erosion was evident visually:

In order to fully quantify the how much wear the pyramid sustained over the 13,000 cycles GLC laser scanned the part and compared it to the original CAD file that was used to 3D print the part, the results speak for themselves:

HP MJF Foundry Tooling - laser scan inspection report
The wear on the part was minimal and inline with what was expected.

After the initial success of the pyramid test F3DP and GLC have gone on to scale up the size of parts being produced with the HP MJF process to make foundry tooling, here are some examples of other projects that are currently being run on the DISAMATIC line at GLC:

HP MJF Foundry Tooling For Surging Part Demand

During the summer of 2020 it was pretty much impossible to buy hand weights in the USA. This was due to the massive surge in demand being driven by public gyms having to be closed due to the COVID 19 Pandemic and snarled supply chains coming out of China where these items have been almost exclusively produced since the 90’s. Great Lakes Castings was approached by major Midwest big box store Meijer about the possibility of these hand weights being produced at GLC.

Time was of the essence with this project and GLC came to us at F3DP to print the hand weight impressions for the 10, 15, 20, & 25 pound castings. These impressions were used to build prototype parts as well as the initial 500 units of each weight that would be sold in Meijer stores. Due to the use of these 3D printed impressions GLC was able to start producing castings 2 weeks ahead of schedule.

After the initial pilot of 500 castings for each hand weight size were signed off on steel tooling was ordered to replace the 3D printed impressions. The 3D printed tooling continued to be run in production while waiting for the delivery of the production steel tools. It was decided not to build steel tooling for the 25 pound hand weight due to this size having the lowest demand. As of the taking of the pictures you see below these impressions have made molds for 7,000 25 pound hand weights and is still inspec and producing great looking castings!

You can read the full story on the F3DP / GLC / Meijer hand weight project here.


3D Printed Foundry Core Box Tooling

Another type of foundry tooling that we build for customers are 3D printed CO2 corebox’s. A core is a device used in the casting processes to produce internal cavities in the final part. The core is a disposable item that is destroyed to get it out of the finished casting.

Here is an example of 3D printed core box tooling that is in use at the Lee Brass Foundry:


3D Printed Foundry Tooling Impressions & Finished Castings

The following gallery shows both the 3D Printed tooling impressions as well as finished brass castings that were made using sand molds produced using this 3D Printed tooling. Note that the text came out extremely sharp / crisp on the castings and there was not any issues with the text not releasing well after forming the part cavity in the sand mold. These impressions had been run for 730 cycles as of the taking of these pictures without any issues.

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