Rapid Axis for Urethane Casting
Rapid Axis provides competitively priced, quality parts; quickly. With large vacuum chambers and a vast array of casting materials at our disposal, Rapid Axis is well suited for prototype and production Urethane Casting projects alike.
Why Rapid Axis is the best choice for Urethane Casting
Rapid Axis has a combined one hundred years of Urethane Casting experience and can process any component in Urethane Casting, from a simple gasket to the most complicated housing for your robotics project. We support both rigid, elastomeric and silicone materials and can paint, install hardware or even post op machine your urethane castings so you get the exact component you want. Urethane casting requires a high level of communication with customers on design, first article approval and balance processing. Let us show you our dedication to service and quality by choosing Rapid Axis for your next Urethane Casting project.
Beautiful end use parts
Vast array of materials
General Tolerances: +/- 0.010” or +/- 0.003” per inch, whichever is larger. We will consult in project with drawings provided
Build Size: 32” x 32” x 32” or above dependent on material
Cosmetics: Cast In Color, Texture, Paint, Dye, Pad Print, Polish
2nd Operations: Post Op Machining, Hardware Installation, Assembly
- Shore A Elastomers: CF 50A, CF 60A, CF 70A, CF 80A, F141 40A, F190 90A, F195 95A
- Rigid Urethanes: 8150 HeiCast, 8400 HeiCast, IE-3075 80D, MD-50 50D, MD-60 60D, OC-5272 80D Clear, PT8902 High Impact 85D, PT8952 High Impact FR UL94V0 85D, TC-854 Nylon-Delrin Like 84D, TC-857 PC Like 84D, TC-872 70D, TC886 FR 78D, TC-891 FR 80D, TC-895 Black Hi Temp 84D, TC895 Neutral Hi Temp 85D
- Silicones: TC-5050 50A, TC-5060 60A, Shin Etsu KE1310ST Tech II 40A, R220 2330 25-30A, R2364 65A, R2384 75A, R2550 53A, R2640 RP 40A
- Food and Medical Grade: Steralloy 2056 55A, Steralloy 2463 80D, Steralloy 2380 85D
See Materials page
What is Urethane Casting?
Urethane casting is a form of tooling and molding that we offer at Rapid Axis. If you’re familiar with injection molding, you already know the basics that are at play here.
It typically starts with a mold that is formed around a 3D Printed master pattern to create a negative cavity of your product. The mold material is often a high durometer silicone though for casting of elastomers we will sometimes opt to machine a tool out of acrylic.
The mold gets filled in vacuum with liquid polyurethane, an elastomer or silicone that fills all the gaps and voids. Urethane can refer to a number of different materials that have differing material properties. You can have floppy or rigid urethanes but you can also cast elastomers and silicone.
Once the material in liquid form fills the cavity, it is kept in heat and vacuum while it begins to cure. After a period the mold is removed from vacuum and the component is allowed to cool. After a short period of time dependent on the molded material and volume, the part is completely formed. The mold is opened, and the part gets removed. Now, the mold is ready to accept a new round of urethane and make the next unit while the formed part can continue through its lifecycle.
The key distinction here is that these molds are not made out of metal. Urethane casting is typically used for prototyping and short run production. Depending on your product and application, we might be able to get 100 units from a single urethane cast before it needs to be replaced. More often, the number is closer to 30 units, though.
Urethane Casting Applications
If you think of urethane casting as a junior version of injection molding, you have a good idea of what’s going on. To better describe it, allow us to introduce some applications and benefits of urethane casting.
Large Material Selection
With urethane casting, you have a lot of different materials to choose from. These materials will be what your final product is made out of. At Rapid Axis, we currently offer over 5,000 different materials with varying material properties, colors, and advantages.
Our experts can walk you through the process and help you pick the right option. The good news is that a single urethane mold can use a number of different materials without changing the mold. This lets you try your part in different materials and see which one works best for your application.
The fact that you have so many material choices means that you can essentially hand-pick the material properties you want your final part to have. This is more favorable than the handful of metals you can choose from with CNC machining. Comparatively, 3D printers only offer a small fraction of the materials possible with urethane casting.
Low-Cost Alternative to Injection Molding
Setting up a tool and machine for injection molding your parts is an expensive undertaking. If your design isn’t perfected and you aren’t positive about which material to use, then you’re not ready for injection molding.
Before making the leap and spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, consider urethane casting. This option is much less expensive and still gives you the same benefits (just to a lesser degree).
The per-unit cost for the first 20-30 parts will be dramatically less expensive if you choose urethane casting.
Quicker and Less Expensive Than Machining or Molding
Compared to CNC machining or injection molding, urethane casting is much quicker and less expensive for the first dozen or even first hundred components. CNC machining either from scratch or to create and injection mold requires a lot of hands-on work from the machinist. Plus, it could take hours to make a single part, based on its complexity and what machinery is required.
Urethane casting could make the whole batch of parts in the time it takes a machinist to make one unit on a CNC machine.
When you pay for CNC machining, you’re paying for the expertise, man hours, material, and machines used. With urethane casting, many of those costs go away. Plus, the materials used in urethane casting are so inexpensive that the choice typically makes only a marginal difference to pricing.
Create a Round of Parts for Testing, Presentation or Production
A lot of our customers choose urethane casting so they can get a small batch of products to perform tests with. We’ve had customers that wanted to test a variety of different materials of the same design so they could see which option is the best.
Others wanted to get a round of parts so they could do destructive tests on the units to learn the limitations of the design.
Another group of customers are looking for presentation material. They would get 10 units sent to their office so their sales team could spread out, each taking a unit with them on the road. There’s something powerful about having a 3D prototype that a potential customer can see and hold.
A recent project included a large bezel to be Urethane Cast in fire rated polyurethane for a slot machine. This was a higher volume job with a quantity around 300. These components were cast in color with a mold-tec finish that gave them a matte texture. These were able to be installed onto our end user’s machines and distributed to their customers.
Since urethane casting uses a single mold, all of the units created are dimensionally identical. In addition, you get the parts quickly and affordably, so there are plenty of applications.
Parts Can Be Finished
Even after perfecting your design, you might need some additional finishing steps. These steps might include painting, sanding, or adding logos to your parts for branding. With urethane casting, all of these steps can be possible, based on the material that you choose for your units.
This adds yet another layer of customization to the parts you make through urethane casting. If you’d like, our team at Rapid Axis can also provide the finishing steps so you get your parts faster and at a better price.