3DP Applications

Wilson Tool International realizes potential of 3D printed tooling in new Additive division

The world’s largest independent tooling manufacturer Wilson Tool International has launched a 3D printing division. Through the newly formed Wilson Tool Additive segment customers will have access to custom-made jigs, fixtures and tooling – an area which is perhaps one of the most valuable applications of desktop FDM/FFF in an industrial setting.

Wilson Tool Additive is offering 3D printing services on two new lines: BEND3D, for sheet metal bending, and SOLV3D, for other support parts.

Custom press brake tooling 3D printed by Wilson Tool Additive. Photo via Wilson Tool International

Tooling in hours, not days

Wilson Tool International manufactures tools suitable for metal bending, stamping, punching, and pharmaceutical tablet compression. Founded in 1966, the company is headquartered in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, and has expanded to facilities across the world in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, England, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy and China.

With its 3D printing services, Wilson Tool Additive is promising its customers “made-to-order bending tools and fabrication support parts in hours — not days or weeks.” The additive manufacturing technologies employed by the company are fused deposition modeling (FDM) and “Grown plastic” 3D printing, which falls under the category of vat polymerization.


BEND3D is Wilson Tool Additive’s 3D printing line for producing custom press brake tooling, i.e. machine heads that bend sheet metal. Through testing, the company has proved that these 3D printed tools “match the quality and strength of traditional steel tools” that would be used in the process.

On Wilson Tool Additive’s recommendation, BEND3D tools are “best suited for low run jobs, up to approximately 1000 hits, and in materials like 14-gauge cold rolled or less.”

By using this service, customers can save significantly on lead times, on the cost of a machined metal component, or one that would require a mold.

A BEND3D printed part in action. Photo via Wilson Tool International
A BEND3D printed part in action. Photo via Wilson Tool International


The SOLV3D line at Wilson Tool Additive has a much wider mandate than BEND3D, as the company states: ‘If You Can Imagine It, We Can Make It.”

For this line, customers have the freedom to propose entirely unique jig and fixture designs to their requirements. It seems both FDM and vat polymerisation are used to fulfil these orders, as the company writes, “We use two different 3D processes to make complex parts with the flexibility to facilitate modifications quickly,”

“Determined through rigorous testing of stress resistance, longevity and quality, these two processes offer customers a full spectrum of ideal product possibilities.”

Green wire protectors 3D printed through SOLV3D. Photo via Wilson Tool International
Green wire protectors 3D printed through SOLV3D. Photo via Wilson Tool International

A tooling revolution

Across manufacturing, tooling is proving to be a leading application for 3D printing. This year, Volkswagen Autoeuropa and Ultimaker won Automotive Application of the Year in the 3D Printing Industry Awards due in part to the $160,000 in savings made by 3D printed tooling.

At IMTS 2018, Xometry and BMW discussed at length and demonstrated the advantages of 3D printed tooling.

In addition to cost saving, teams have been given the ability to quickly turn around new tooling designs and improve progress, as at NAVSEA’s Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Wilson Tool Additive will be presenting the first examples of its 3D printed tooling at FABTECH from the Nov 6 – Nov 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Featured image shows Wilson Tool Additive SOLV3D family of 3D printed products. Photo via Wilson Tool International

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