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Nowadays, more and more companies lean toward rapid tooling as the best manufacturing solution to produce various prototypes, molds, and final products. In doing so, they are leaving the old method of conventional tooling, as it is no longer a preferable manufacturing method for today’s increasingly high production demands.

In this guide, let’s explore the primary benefits of rapid tooling and conventional tooling, along with the key differences between these manufacturing processes.

Primary Benefits of Rapid Tooling

  • Prototyping multiple iterations at the same time. Rapid tooling is capable of producing multiple prototype versions or iterations at the same time, so you don’t need to do everything one by one. You can put the rapid tooling equipment to work on producing multiple versions of your prototype in a single production cycle, effectively shortening the production period for your prototypes.
  • Cheaper material costs. Rapid tooling can also provide you with much cheaper production costs due to the cheaper material costs for this manufacturing method. However, although the material costs are cheaper, it doesn’t mean that you will get lower-quality materials with this manufacturing process.
  • Fast assessment and testing. With the fast production time, you can perform fast assessment and testing for your molds or prototypes. It is perfect for you to find out the quality of the molds or prototypes you are making, whether they pass your quality standards or not. You don’t need to wait for too long just to get ready to perform assessment and testing for your prototypes or molds.
  • Quick adjustments and fixes. Did you find some defects or problems with your molds or prototypes? With rapid tooling, you can perform quick adjustments and apply the fixes necessary to overcome the risks of defects or any other problems. The process is as fast as when you produce the prototypes for the first time.
  • Automation and robotics. Rapid tooling uses a big amount of automation and robotics to perform various manufacturing tasks, so it’s a fully computerized process. Automation and robotics are what make rapid tooling capable of producing fast prototypes and molds, and they are an indispensable part of this manufacturing process.

Primary Benefits of Conventional Tooling

  • More detailed tooling process. With conventional tooling, you can make molds or prototypes in a more detailed way. Each stage of the tooling process will require you to use a different manufacturing equipment best suited for that process. So, you can add various details on the molds or prototypes you want, while taking the slow and steady progress in your manufacturing production process.
  • Durable and long-term tooling quality. The result of the tooling and prototyping process you make with conventional tooling will be the end-products that will have more durability and long-term use compared to any rapid prototyping method. The quality of the end products will not disappoint you.
  • No need for complex computerization. Conventional tooling uses a fair share of computerized operations, but it’s not as intense as the rapid tooling or other rapid manufacturing With conventional tooling, human workers are needed more than computers or robotics, so you will perform the manufacturing process in all the traditional ways, which can be a great advantage in and of itself.

Key Differences between Rapid Tooling vs. Conventional Tooling

  • Automation vs. human workers. Rapid tooling uses automation and robotics for the whole of its operation, which is what makes the process very time efficient. Meanwhile, conventional tooling doesn’t use automation and robotics in its operation. Instead, most of the conventional tooling operations use human labors to complete the manufacturing and production process.
  • Rapid production vs. slow production. Just as the name suggests, rapid tooling is a fast-paced/rapid mold or prototype creation process you can use to save a lot of time and cost in the manufacturing production. On the other hand, conventional tooling can be considered a slow production process, as it might take weeks or even months just to complete a single mold or prototype.
  • Cheaper materials vs. more expensive materials. Rapid tooling offers much cheaper material options when compared to the conventional tooling process. Although you can still choose from among different material grades, the quality of the materials used in the conventional tooling process is still much better. But, with the cheaper material options, you can minimize your production costs when you use the rapid tooling process.
  • Quick testing and assessment vs. slow testing and assessment. Because of the quick production process of rapid tooling, which allows you to create different mold or prototype iterations in a single production cycle, it makes it easier for you to perform testing and assessment on your molds or prototypes. Meanwhile, with conventional tooling, it will be a much slower process to assess and test the molds or prototypes you are building with this manufacturing method.
  • Full computerization vs. partial computerization. Rapid tooling uses full computerization in their production process, whereas conventional tooling only uses partial computerization. With rapid tooling, human workers are reduced to a certain point, and most of the operations can be replaced by computer programs. Meanwhile, conventional tooling uses fewer computer resources and relies more on human labors.
  • Less durable products vs. more durable products. Because of the cheaper material quality and faster production time, rapid tooling will create molds or prototypes with fewer details in its production process, resulting in less durable products. Meanwhile, conventional tooling gives you more durable products that can be used for a long time, due to its more detailed production process and better material quality.

Conclusion – Which One is Better – Rapid Tooling or Conventional Tooling?

Rapid tooling, as a faster prototyping or tooling method, is not always the best method to use when it comes to certain manufacturing production processes. Although conventional tooling is already considered a traditional or outdated tooling method today, it still finds plenty of uses in today’s manufacturing world. This is because conventional tooling is still necessary in the manufacturing of big parts or prototypes, such as the ones used in aerospace, automotive, or construction industries.

So, whether rapid tooling is better than conventional tooling, or vice versa, will depend on the use or application of these manufacturing processes.

TEAM Rapid provides you with the rapid tooling and prototype machining services that cover plenty of industrial applications. Consult with us about your production needs today, and we will inform you about the best course to take to handle your project in due time.