WP24 – Molding Inserts for Parts with Micro-Details

AM technologies are mainly used in fast prototyping, but its evolution has led this technology to be applied in the production of final parts, becoming a leader in several markets. These technologies are based on the manufacturing process by material addition (in different formats and different types of materials), layer by layer, based on 3D CAD models.

In injection molding, AM is used mainly for the production of molding inserts, as it allows geometric details to be replicated with great accuracy, and with the possibility of conformable cooling channels. This technology can obtain a final product quality that is similar to traditional metal machining methods, with the advantages of producing inserts in less than 24 hours and of reducing the amount of waste.

Additive manufacturing techniques will enable the modeling and development of complex geometries in the design of the mold, or parts of the mold, that would be impossible to be manufactured using conventional material subtraction processes. As a result, metal inserts used in molds with complex structures can be designed with optimized cooling channels, contributing to reduce injection cycle times.

This approach makes enormous progress in the efficiency of the produced tools, both in optimizing raw material resources and reducing energy consumption. The incorporation of conformable cooling channels, which are only possible through additive manufacturing, allows the creation of a channel design that follows the entire geometry of the part. Another particularity of this new approach will be the production of inserts with a better surface finish and greater geometric precision, in the order of micrometers.

The development of a methodology to address structure optimization, from sizing, simulation, validation and execution of real tests. The development of molding inserts is achieved through a project using structural and thermal mold simulation software, in order to obtain maximum benefit from these technologies and minimize their impact on final production.

It will also be essential to use design software in order to size and model all the components that will later be manufactured. The entire development of the design of metal inserts with micro details, production through additive manufacturing, life cycle of the productive tool, will all be the subject of comparative life cycle analysis studies against the standard tools currently used.

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