Making a Spray Formed Rapid Tooling
Making a spray formed rapid tooling includes the steps of making a model of a desired tool and constructing a ceramic pattern as the inverse of the model. The method also includes the steps of heating the ceramic pattern and thermally spraying a metal material against the ceramic pattern to form a desired tool.
It is known to make a spray formed rapid tooling. In spray forming, a master model of a desired tool is produced using a free form fabrication technique. This master model is then used to create a ceramic pattern, which is the reverse of the desired tool to be produced. The resulting ceramic pattern is the receptor onto which metal is sprayed to form a deposit in the shape of the desired tool.
Typically, the spray forming process uses a wire-arc spraying. In wire-arc spraying, electric current is carried by two electrically conductive, consumable wires with an electric arc forming between the wire tips. A high-velocity gas jet blowing from behind the consumable wires strips away the molten metal, which continuously forms as the wires are melted by the electric arc. The high-velocity gas jet breaks up or atomizes the molten metal into finer particles in order to create a fine distribution of molten metal droplets. The atomizing gas then accelerates the droplets away from the wire tips to the ceramic pattern where the molten metal droplets impact the ceramic pattern to incrementally form a deposit in the shape of the desired tool. The completed desired tool is then mounted and used to produce parts in conventional stamping, die casting, or molding process.
Although the above process for making a spray formed rapid tooling has worked well, it suffers from the disadvantage that chip making with heat-treating is required to make the spray formed rapid tooling. These steps are both laborious and time consuming. Therefore, there is a need in the art to make a spray formed rapid tooling that would eliminate these steps.
Accordingly, the present invention is a method of making a spray formed rapid tooling. The method includes the steps of making a model of a desired tool and constructing a ceramic pattern as the inverse of the model. The method also includes the steps of heating the ceramic pattern and thermally spraying a metal material against the ceramic pattern to form the desired tool.
One advantage of the present invention is that a method is provided of making a spray formed rapid tooling at the same time the spray material is being deposited. Another advantage of the present invention is that the method of making a spray formed rapid tooling shortens product development cycle time. Yet another advantage of the present invention is that the method eliminates chip making with heat-treating when forming a spray formed rapid tooling. Still another advantage of the present invention is that the method reduces material loss. Yet a further advantage of the present invention is that the method improves yield, quality, and repeatability.
Other features and advantages of the present invention will be readily appreciated, as the same becomes better understood, after reading the subsequent description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
The method advances to block and includes the step of thermally spraying a metal material against the ceramic pattern to form a spray formed rapid tooling as the desired tool. Such step is desirably carried out by the wire arc process previously described. Another method to carry out the step of thermally spraying is the osprey process wherein a semi-solid slurry of hardenable metal material is sprayed from an induction heated nozzle supply and is impelled against the ceramic pattern with a high velocity due to the high-pressure gases that atomize the molten fluid. Metal droplets are formed from a melt that is atomized by gas (not from wire or powder). Continuous spraying is carried out to build up a layer that exceeds at least one quarter inch in thickness, at its thinnest section. As the spray is applied and built up, the desired tool is formed. It should be appreciated that the method may include adjusting the gun parameters to maintain constant temperature.
Metals usable for this purpose include metals such as zinc and high temperature high strength carbon steel. These include certain rapid tooling steels such as plain carbon steel with (0.8% carbon by weight) as well as maraging steels. Maraging steels are difficult to machine and are seldom used for tooling, but can be readily spray formed to produce a desirable microstructure.
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