Techmer PM collaborates with industry partners on 3D-printed tooling technology

Techmer PM custom formulated high-temperature polymer materials with carbon fiber that ORNL used to 3D-print the tools.

Techmer PM collaborated with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR, Patuxent River, Md.), Boeing (Chicago), TruDesign (Knoxville, Tenn.) and BASF (Ludwigshafen, Germany) on a 3D-printed tooling development. The 3D-printed tools are designed for large-scale transportation and industrial applications, in addition to aerospace and military.

Techmer PM custom formulated high-temperature polymer materials with carbon fiber that ORNL used to 3D-print the tools. During testing, the 100% 3D printed tools successfully endured multiple autoclave cure cycles, withstanding temperatures over 355 F and pressures of 90 psi.

The tools were printed on a Cincinnati Incorporated Big Area Additive Manufacturing machine (BAAM) and machined on a Thermwood 5-axis CNC machining center, both located at ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility. The tools were surface finished by TruDesign. Tooling could be used for stretch forming metal parts, SMA sheet forming, thermoset/carbon fiber composite layups and even autoclavable type tooling.

“We are very pleased with the results of this collaboration, which demonstrated how 3D printing generates significant time and cost savings, operational efficiencies, and design freedom and enables minimal touch labor,” says Tom Drye, vice president of emerging markets and innovation at Techmer PM.