What Is Bridge Tooling and How Does It  Benefit the Automotive Industry


Market analysis suggests that consumers in the digital age are demanding faster services. The automotive manufacturing industry needs to find innovative ways to address supply chain challenges. One way to ensure there is a reliable supply of parts is to use bridge tooling techniques. Here is an outline of what it entails and how it can benefit the automotive industry.


Bridge Tooling and its Applications in Automotive


What is bridge tooling? It is a stage in product development between prototyping and production. It addresses the requirement for molded parts that would not be possible through conventional tooling.


Certain situations may call for this type of rapid prototyping. Steel tooling is an alternative process but can be expensive and time-consuming. Bridge tooling provides a more economical approach than production tooling. But it is not limited to prototyping; it can replace production tooling altogether. 


The company may need a trial run before production. One reason for a trial run is that the design of the part is not yet stable. The client may want several tests run before they can be sure of the final product. This type of rapid prototyping is often the most cost-effective choice in these circumstances. It gives the company the option to test the market before settling on a final design. 


Factors Determining Choice of Tool Material


The choice of material is crucial during prototyping. It affects the shape, tooling life requirements, aesthetics, and other factors. The most common material for bridge tooling is aluminum. This metal has excellent thermal performance, and the machining process is much faster.


The overall cost for creating a bridge mold is lower than a production mold. By bridge prototyping, you can produce parts more economically than with a conventional process.


With aluminum, you can produce up to 5,000 moldings with proper maintenance. Depending on the application, manufacturers may use other materials for tooling. For example, acrylic resin can create transparent and durable materials suitable for automotive lights.


The Value of Design Flexibility


Automotive engineers have to consider the needs of the customer and industry regulations when designing parts. They have to integrate factors such as safety and personalization.


Organizations can delay production tooling until they perfect their prototyping design. Bridge tooling will require a lower cost to make modifications.


Using a CAD application, the user creates a custom mold to address design limitations. The automotive engineer can develop prototypes from different materials to find the best design.


Another advantage is that you can get the product to market earlier than the scheduled time. You can start with as low as ten automotive parts.


Parts Availability and Customization Capabilities


Bridge prototyping is a fast process for creating parts that are compliant with regulations. It also utilizes available materials and virtually eliminates the risk that there will be product shortages.


Automotive customers are increasingly demanding custom parts that fit their unique needs. You can use bridge tooling for different components. However, it can also be valuable for designs with similar patterns and shapes.


The design flexibility of bridge tooling makes it possible for manufacturers to create intricate designs. It is suitable for making interior parts of the vehicle to meet aesthetics, safety, and quality standards.


You can also use the process to make exterior parts that are aerodynamic and aesthetically pleasing. With the bridge process, manufacturers can organize short-term test production. As a result, they can produce higher quality parts for their customers in the automotive industry.


Taking Advantage of Bridge Tooling


Inject molding is a reliable process for large productions. But for small runs, it can be prohibitively costly. Using materials such as urethane, manufacturers can produce faster to develop in low volumes.


Using such a soft tooling approach, it becomes easier to make adjustments. You can opt for a high mix, low volume to create a wide range of automotive parts. Unlike hard tooling techniques, it can produce a variety of products for different industries, from automotive to medical.


By applying injection molding and soft tooling techniques, manufacturers can create short runs for testing. Bridge tooling enables them to analyze the performance of parts to enhance their products and uphold quality standards. You can cut down production time considerably and manage costs.

You can develop standardized or customized automotive parts with bridge tooling. The process can meet the unique requirements for various applications such as seating and lighting. We are the leading provider of automotive parts solutions. With 43 years in the business, we can handle the entire process from conception to production. Contact RCO Engineering to start working with us on your project today.