Foam Urethane Casting Process Wins Design News Golden Mousetrap Award

Commonly regarded as the advanced engineering industry’s most prized accolade, Design News’ Golden Mousetrap Awards annually celebrate the companies, products, and people who are energizing North American design, engineering and manufacturing. Stratasys Direct Manufacturing won in the 3D Printing & Rapid Prototyping, Materials, Tools & Services category for our urethane foam casting process. How did Urethane Casting win within a 3D printing category you ask? Well the traditional way to produce foam parts involves pouring two-part urethane liquids into hard tools or cutting blanks of foam into the desired shape. The methods are time-consuming and aren’t particularly cost effective in low volumes. Our new method creates foam parts faster using 3D printed molds built with Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and ABS thermoplastic.

“It’s an incredible honor to receive this award among such high caliber innovators,” said Emran Mursalin, product manager of Urethane Casting at Stratasys Direct Manufacturing. “We’re excited that combining conventional manufacturing methods with 3D printing is being recognized, helping reverse the common misconception that there isn’t a place for both in the future of manufacturing.”

Whether you have one-off prototypes or quantities in the hundreds, pairing urethane foam with FDM tools is a revolutionary process that delivers the following benefits, noted by Design News:

Eliminate hard tooling costs

The upfront investment in hard tooling isn’t usually feasible for low-volumes of foam prototypes. Getting locked into a tool design during the prototyping phase can be costly if you have design modifications. With FDM tools, design changes are affordable – all you need is an updated 3D CAD file and a new tool can be printed.

Improve production time

Another challenge with hard tooling is long lead times, both with initial production and any required modifications. With FDM tools, companies can start producing foam parts within hours of 3D printed tools coming off the FDM equipment. The accelerated production time can help companies test and validate designs, and get a final product to market faster.

Create complex designs

One of the inherent benefits of FDM and AM, in general, is the capability to design parts with complex geometries that are impossible with traditional methods. Instead of focusing on design limitations, FDM tools for foam casting give more design freedom to include unique features and sharp edges, allowing companies to maximize functionality and usability.

Urethane foam is comes in a variety of densities (4 – 32 lbs./cubic ft) and is useful in a variety of prototype and end-use applications, including:

  • Packaging
  • Crash pads
  • Seat cushions
  • Arm rests
  • Vibration and sound dampening applications
  • Conformal insulation
  • And much more

  • For transportation and automotive applications, parts can also be built using foam certified to meet FMVSS 302 flame specifications. The combination of FDM tools and urethane foam is just another example of how working with a vendor with multiple technologies can help you find unique solutions to the toughest challenges.

    Visit our Urethane Casting page to learn more.

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    “It’s a great way to get parts to market without having to wait or spend the capital investing in injection molding or hard tooling.”