Increasing adoption with innovative applications from Westec Plastics and Nicolet Plastics illustrated by Mantle

3D printer manufacturer Mantle Inc. has released two new case studies of clients who have successfully used Mantle technology to streamline their toolmaking processes.

Nicolet Plastics and Westec Plastics, both injection molders serving the medical device market, will use Mantle technology to save the time and labor needed to produce accurate injection mold tooling parts. These examples were displayed in Mantle’s booth #3995 at the MD&M West conference, which took place in Anaheim, California, from February 7-9, 2023

“As an injection molder, Mantle allows us to bring additional tool production in-house and increase the complexity of the tools and inserts we manufacture,” said Tony Cavalco, Nicolet Plastics CEO. “We will significantly reduce the time it takes to produce production-quality tools and be able to start production in weeks versus months.”

Nicolet insert. Image via Mantle.
Nicolet insert. Image via Mantle.

How are Nicolet Plastics and Westec Plastics benefitting from Mantle’s technology?

“We printed up the inserts … (and) did a little bit of final fitting here and there, and we were able to get it in the press and start molding parts relatively quickly,” said Eric Derner, Technical Sales Applications Engineer at Nicolet Plastics. “We only had about 10 hours worth of secondary operations and final fitting we had to do. Our toolmaker was … a little bit pessimistic, but when I came in that Friday to ask how everything went, he was almost jumping up and down with joy.”

Nicolet Plastics, a Wisconsin-based full-service plastic injection molder, is implementing Mantle’s metal 3D printing technology to cut prototyping time and provide molded components to customers more rapidly.

Nicolet Plastics lately used Mantle’s 3D printer to create production tooling for a Gamber-Johnson customer. Nicolet Plastics lowered toolmaker time from 180 hours to 12.5 hours and the time to create the first molded component samples from six weeks to two weeks by printing three inserts. Mantle manufactured inserts that were 95% complete and only needed minimal finishing before molding could begin.

“Tooling is the base of our company,” said Tammy Barras, president, of Westec Plastics Corp. “Without quality tooling, we can’t produce quality parts, but it’s getting harder and harder to find quality toolmakers. Using Mantle’s technology, we can complete up to 70% of the job, and have our toolmakers handle the specialized steps that only a human can do. We need to take advantage of this new technology. With Mantle, we can provide our customers a service they can’t get anywhere else.”

Westec Plastics Corp., a California-based full-service plastic injection molder, is also utilizing Mantle’s metal 3D printing technology to boost tooling capabilities without needing to hire useful but scarce toolmakers. Westec can now quickly generate H13 inserts that are 75-95% complete with a limited time frame from its toolmakers, allowing them to concentrate on critical processes such as tool maintenance and repair.

Mantle claims that its technology-enabled Westec to reduce the cost of tooling for medical diagnostic housing in half by reducing the number of active operation hours on the inserts from 40 hours to just 10. The cost of tooling was lowered while the toolmakers were freed up to work on other projects. The tools were employed to mold TPE.

Nicolet insert. Image via Mantle.
Nicolet insert. Image via Mantle.

Injection molding for scaling additive manufacturing

Previously, French metal 3D printing specialist AddUp launched a novel material that may be of significance to tooling manufacturers worldwide. Though it has conventionally been used in injection molding, AddUp released an AISI 420 steel for the 3D printing industry. The material, which is complementary to the company’s FormUp 350 powder bed fusion (PBF) machines, is believed to enable the development of complex and efficient molds with minimal post-processing requirements.

Furthermore, prototyping company Quickparts announced a novel service that offers same-day shipping. This is facilitated by the firm’s usage of novel manufacturing technologies such as the Nexa3D high-speed resin 3D printers’ Lubricant Sublayer Photo-curing (LSPc) 3D printing technology. Advanced CNC and injection molding technology are also included. Ziad Abou, CEO of Quickparts said, “We are excited to bring our customers the speed and quality they need to meet today’s market demands.”

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Feature image shows Nicolet plastic parts. Image via Mantle.