Applied Research

RRC Instructor, Grad Develop New Tooling Method

June 6, 2011

DSC_0058As part of their efforts to make composite manufacturing more economical, an instructor and a grad from RRC's Mechanical Engineering Technology program have developed a new means of making dissolvable mandrels and patterns, otherwise known as "rapid prototype composite tooling (RPCT)."

Composite manufacturing currently has substantial overhead costs, partly due to the expense of tooling.

"To produce these tools, one typically requires expensive machines that are also very slow and costly to operate," says Leon Fainstein, the instructor who led the development of the new RPCT. "By contrast, RPCT involves only one affordable machine — a 3D printer."

The 3D printer will print virtually any shape of dissolvable mandrels and patterns in about four to eight hours, and even print multiple mandrels or patterns at once.

"Manufacturers require permanent composite molds for short production runs. RPCT can make them with dissolvable patterns," says Serge Broeska (shown, above), the program grad who's now working as a Research Technologist at RRC's Centre for Applied Research in Sustainable Infrastructure  (CARSI). "These composite molds can be very complex, have smooth surfaces, and are comparable to metal molds, with the exception that they are much less expensive."

While there are other methods of making dissolvable mandrels and patterns, RPCT is the only method whereby dissolvable mandrels and patterns can be made directly from CAD files.

"With the progressive development of RPCT, the possibilities for composite design and manufacturing are becoming endless," says Broeska.

To learn more about this breakthrough, read Broeska's article here.

Click here for more information about RRC's Mechanical Engineering Technology program.

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