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Development of rapid tooling for sheet metal drawing using nickel electroforming and stereolithography processes

  • Yarlagadda, Prasad K.
  • Ismet, Ilyas P.
  • Christodoulou, Periklis
Publication Date
Apr 01, 2001
Queensland University of Technology ePrints Archive


Tooling is an important area in the manufacturing of various sheet metal products. This aspect can be extremely expensive as well as time consuming. The increase in the complexity of tooling for any operation results in a corresponding increase in the time and costs required in developing such tooling. The ideal candidate operations for rapid tooling (RT) have been those for which it is difficult to develop tooling by the usual methods. The quest is to produce complex tooling quickly and at low cost. This paper describes the development of RT techniques for the production of sheet metal drawing tooling by using a combination of stereolithograhy and nickel electroforming processes. Two types of prototype tools have been designed and manufactured. The first type is a stereolithography QuickCast pattern infiltrated with aluminium-filled epoxy designated as QuickTool, and the second type has been manufactured by combining stereolithography technique with the nickel electroforming process. While the QuickTool may be indeed rapidly manufactured it can be only a prototype tool, as the material it is made of does not render much durability. On the other hand, the nickel electroformed tool is far more durable and can withstand more extreme working conditions. By combining nickel electroforming and the stereolithography process, press tools for sheet metal forming have been successfully produced. Further, the developed tools have been evaluated in the press metal forming process by producing components with 0.8 mm aluminium sheets.

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