In the engineering product design process, rapid tooling is needed for the low volume manufacturing for plastic parts, these parts can be used for design validation. you may wondering how dose rapid tooling work. today, in this blog , we will explain what is rapid tooling.

What is Rapid tooling?

Rapid tooling is a technology used to make a tooling fast, enable manufactures to produce parts with actual production grade of material with low cost and short time. it is also known as soft tooling which use different tooling material with mass production tooling.

Common methods to make a Rapid tooling

Generally, there are two common methods to make a rapid tooling in a short time. Direct Method and Indirect Method.

Direct tooling

The direct tooling means create the tooling direclty on a metal block with machining techniques such as CNC machining , Wire EDM cutting and 3D printing to shape the metal block to be tooling components. this method usually require creating the tooling 3D data by CAD software, and then use the data for machining. there are two common direct tooling as below:

3D Printed rapid Tooling

Metal 3D printing technology can be used for producing rapid tooling in a very short time direclty base on the tooling 3D data. these 3D printed toolings can be used for injection modling, vaccum forming, etc.

CNC Machined rapid Tooling

CNC Machining is the method to creat both rapid tooling and mass production tooling. Not like Traditional mass production tooling typically made from robust metals like hard steel or nickel alloys, rapid tooling is often machined from materials such as aluminum alloys and soft steel.

Indirect tooling

The indirect tooling method use a master pattern as base, and create the tooling to surround this master pattern, the cavity and core of the tooling will be formed as exaclty same as the master pattern. silicone molds is the common application created by this method to produce plastic parts.

Tips for Making a Rapid Tooling

Even creating rapid tooling is much easier than creating a mass production hard tooling , but there are also lots of techniques during the manufacturing process to save cost and improve tooling quality. some of tips for making a rapid tooling as below:

  • Use standard mold bases and only produce inserts to save cost.
  • if allowed, use aluminum or soft steels that can be machined more quickly.
  • Avolid using additional processes like EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining).
  • Incorporate manual inserts where applicable.


Conventional Molds & Tooling3D Printed Plastic Molds & Tooling3D Printed Metal Molds & Tooling
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Rapid Tooling vs Rapid Prototyping

Rapid prototyping use a set of techniques to create a physical model or final part base on the 3D data created in CAD software. the techniques include CNC machining, 3D printing, sheet metal farbrication.

On the other hand, rapid tooling uses machining processes not for producing the actual parts directly, but for creating tooling components like molds, dies, or patterns. rapid tooling will be used for producing the final parts.

Soft Tooling vs. Hard Tooling

Soft tooling usually means silicone molds for urethane casting process. it commonly used for creating prototypes and small volume parts to make simple test. the urethane has similar properties with the original designed material.

Hard tooling is made of hard steel for injection molding which can support high volume production. but, it have significantly higher costs compared to soft tooling or most rapid tooling methods.

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Applications of Rapid Tooling

Injection molding

Injection molding is widely used for manufacturing plastic, silicone and rubber components. Rapid tooling with soft steel is created mostly for this application to inject parts with same materials use in the hard tooling.


Rapid tooling with low cost tooling material can be used for thermoforming to create porducts which is easier to make with thermoforming process.

Sheet Metal Forming

Rapid tooling are also used a lot in sheet metal forming process, to make a quick tooling for sheet metal bending with a accurate result.


When you need a small volume products from 100 pieces to 1000 pieces plastic parts, Injection molding with rapid tooling is a perfect choice. Kusla prototpye provide low volume injection molding service can help produce your products with in a very short time and with a very low cost.


Around 2 to 4 weeks , we can produce silicone mold in less than 2 weeks , and produce alumium and soft steel tooling in less than 4 weeks.

Plastic, silicone rubber, urethane are commonly used in rapid tooling to create parts with inejction molding and casting process.

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