Urethane molding is used mainly for prototype, bridge, and lower volume production runs. The process by which urethane—or, polyurethane—molding is done is similar to other types of manufacturing such as injection molding. The big differences come in the overall cost and cycle time as urethane molding is a type of soft tooling manufacturing method rather than hard tooling.
How Are Urethane Parts Molded?
Creating cast urethane parts is a simple three step process. The first step is to create a master from the 3D printing process stereolithography, also known as SLA. The 3D printed master is then used to create a silicone mold. The silicone mold is then used to cast the urethane parts. This manufacturing process bears with it a lower cost and fast turnaround time than steel molds you would typically use with injection molding.
What Are the Benefits of Cast Urethane?
For those unfamiliar with urethane molding, there is sometimes a question of why. Why would I go this route when I could just do injection molding and be ready for a fully ramped up production style manufacturing? Well, there are a few reasons for choosing urethane molding over other methods.
- Fast tooling turnaround—silicone molds can be produced and ready to shoot parts within days.
- Material versatility—You are able to test out different materials in a silicone mold without sacrificing part geometry due to shrink
- Applications— Urethane can be used during most aspects of the product development process.
How Can I Use Cast Urethane Parts?
Urethane molding is ideal for creating functional prototype parts, engineering verification of designs, alpha and beta builds, as well as pre-production and low volume production parts. The cost and speed of this manufacturing and prototyping method is what often appeals to manufacturers. Allowing a fast turnaround can bridge the gap when production is ramped up and deadlines are closing in quickly, but it allows provides for a faster to market strategy, especially in highly competitive fields.
If you’re interested in learning more about how polyurethane cane help your business, feel free to contact one of our project managers today.