Despite the growing excitement around some of the latest additive manufacturing technologies, producing multiple plastic parts is still best left to traditional manufacturing methods – particularly injection molding. That said, there’s no reason why the two can’t continue to live in harmony as different respective steps of the design and production process.
To further explore the process of 3D printing while simultaneously gaining a better understanding of the injection molding process, freeform 3D modeler Luca Toson recently took on the challenge of modeling an entire 300-part injection molding machine with the sole intention of 3D printing the parts and assembling them into a semi-functional model that demonstrates the injection molding process.
Of course, few sane people would ever set out to spend 800 of their precious hours modeling an industrial manufacturing machine, but the challenge was initiated by Luca’s coworker who brought up a conversation on the two manufacturing processes and thus, inspired the NURBS modeler to create the 1:36 scale model – one control point at a time.
Although the model, which required 25 batches of printing on a Zortrax M200 and is held together with over 200 steel pins and screws, doesn’t actually create injection molded parts, it does have moving elements that can be operated manually to demonstrate steps of the injection molding process.
No word yet on if Luca will be making the files available on Thingiverse or another file-sharing platform, but even if he did, consider us impressed if anybody even gets through the process of printing the parts.