In the injection molding sector, additive manufacturing is essentially present in the production of molding inserts (components that give the product its shape), which are made in various materials (polymers, metal). The additive manufacturing technology that is at the basis of this project is metallic sintering in a powder layer. The quality of this technology is very similar to current machining processes, though it has advantages in terms of production times, waste of material and process versatility, such as the repair of molding tools.

The method of using additive manufacturing as a manufacturing process for the molding tool is a huge step forward in optimizing raw material resources; however, it is necessary to design a complete molding tool so that the optimization is significant and sustainable.

This approach allows: greater freedom in optimizing the material resources required to manufacture the tool (for example, by reducing the energy used during the production process, since the weight of the tool is optimized to be simply what is necessary, as opposed to processes in use today); reduction in the number of molding tool components (reducing assembly times, improving performance); availability of unconventional techniques (such as conformal channels, which are only possible to incorporate through additive manufacturing processes, as they allow freedom of unconventional geometry).

Another feature of this new approach to build a molding tool is the incorporation of process monitoring sensors (pressure and temperature sensors, among others), which will make the molding tool to be recognized as an intelligent product, as it gives feedback to its operator in terms of the state of the process and the parameters that can be optimized in real time. Another feature is the feedback the tool gives to its manufacturer, so to avoid in a preventive way any wear and corrections / tuning.

The development of a molding tool will be executed under a project that will use specialized design software for additive manufacturing (such as generative design and topological optimization, consisting of software that optimizes the mass of material, depending on the performance to which it will be subjected), in order to make the most of these technologies and minimize their impact on final production.

It will be used structural and thermal simulation software (for the evaluation and validation of the mechanical and thermal performance of the tool), as well as injection process prediction software. The interconnection of the three aspects is essential for the development of the tool to be validated in a digital environment.

The design of the molding tool will be complemented with the incorporation of standard components, in order to allow the use of the molding tool without the need to adapt injection molding machines to it.

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Inov.AM - Inovação em Fabricação Aditiva

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