3D printing offers a lot of opportunities for master model, tooling and part fabrication. We worked with some of the first SLA master models back in 1990.
This was a SLA printed mock-up of an entire aircraft high stage bleed air duct system. Shrinkage and dimensional stability were a big problem on that job, but 3D printing technology continues to improve rapidly.
As with any promising new technology, there is a tendency to over commit resources to it.
The following image depicts a 3D printed Learjet engine inlet barrel master model. The good news was that this master was printed in two (2) halves, with a pinned and indexed flange for joining the halves. The halves had to be split apart to remove the cured tool laminate…
The bad news is that the 3D printed master flexed out of shape when a vacuum bag was applied to infuse the carbon fiber tool laminate with high temp epoxy resin. When cost for a much thicker and stiffer 3D printed master model was calculated, the decision was made to go back with traditional CNC machined tooling board materials.