We were asked to produce some replica seals for an aircraft simulator.
The client was unable to produce the parts required using conventional manufacturing processes due to the challenging geometry of the design. The material originally specified for the components was also unsuitable, so the project became a joint Research and Development project.
Whilst FDM recognised that RIM-cast rubber component would have offered more suitable material properties, discussions with the Paragon team also established that standard RIM tooling would be unable to produce the large cavity required in the end component.
As the team at FDM had access to a range of soluble materials, the suggestion was made to produce a soluble insert in order to create an internal cavity within the moulding.
Firstly we CNC machined a rigid model board compression tool and the end section of the moulding was formed around the soluble core. The moulding was removed with an airline and the cores were dissolved to leave a cavity in the seal as required.
Both FDM and Paragon are very excited about the potential applications of this two-stage process, which could produce some extremely complicated cast components.
Testimonial from FDM:
Soluble additive manufactured tooling has been used for various applications, in particular the production of complex carbon mandrels where a traditional lay-up tool would not be extractable. In evaluating the replica aircraft seals we could see that Paragon’s RIM-cast materials would be ideal, however it quickly became clear that this technique would not be able to create the long internal cavities in the seal. Collaborating with Paragon’s experienced engineers we were able to design a solution which enabled us to create the complex seals using soluble additive manufactured cores. The customer was very satisfied with the results and we see there being many future potential uses for this application.