To meet the growing demand for rapid, low-cost die fabrication technology in the sheet metal forming industry, easy-to-machine, polyurethane-based, composite board stock is used widely as a rapid tooling material. In practice, it is desirable to terminate die life by wear rather than by catastrophic fatigue. However, the failure mechanisms of the rapid prototyped tools are not clearly understood, thus making the prediction of tool life difficult. This paper presents a method to estimate the fatigue life of a sheet metal forming die fabricated from ATH (aluminum trihydrate)-filled polyurethane. A finite element model of 90° V-die bending process was developed, and the effects of process parameters on stress distribution in the punch and die were investigated through simulation. Mechanical testing was performed to characterize the fatigue properties of the tooling material. The computer-simulated results were verified through experiments using instrumented, laboratory-scale punch and die sets.

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