Using Additive Manufacturing for Custom Metal Form Tooling

Article by Stratasys Ltd. updated October 12, 2021


Using production-grade FDM thermoplastics for 3D printed metal forming tools allows manufacturers to go from a form tool design to production in as little as a week. Many tools can be 3D printed in less than 24 hours with no human intervention!

3D Printed Metal Forming Example

Stratasys customer East/West Industries needed to manufacture sheet metal parts but their existing tooling had been damaged. They were able to print a full size forming tool out of Nylon Carbon Fiber material using their Stratasys Fortus 450mc production machine. This allowed them to save a significant amount of time and money by quickly 3D printing their tool rather than machining a new metal tool. Watch the short video below to learn more:

Download a Technical White Paper

This white paper presents the findings of a case study involving the use of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) additive manufacturing to create custom sheet metal forming tools. The design and processing techniques are specific to this use case but can be applied to most metal form tooling applications.

Custom Metal Forming

Custom Metal Form Tooling

The custom metal form tooling paper includes:

  • Section 1 – Application Overview
  • Section 2 – Custom Geometry vs. Standard Bends
    • 2.1 Offset Bends
    • 2.2 Ribs
    • 2.3 Dimples/Flares
  • Section 3 – Material Recommendations and Processing Techniques
    • 3.1 Materials
    • 3.2 Processing
  • Section 4 –  Testing Results
    • 4.1 Offset Bend Tooling – Aluminum
    • 4.2 Offset Bend Tooling – Steel
  • Section 5 – Metal Forming Considerations
    • 5.1 Tonnage Ratings
    • 5.2 Max Material Thickness and Cycles
    • 5.3 Spring Back
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Stratasys Ltd.

For over 30 years Stratasys have been pioneering 3D Printing technology, solving problems, questioning, inventing and reinventing. Continually asking, “How can we help our customers turn a great idea into a great success?”