Conformal cooled injection mould tool inserts
Using the latest 3D metal additive printing technology we build true conformal cooled inserts for injection mould tools.
Traditional methods using machining, cross-drilling and EDM can only produce straight cooling paths. This limits the efficiency of cooling within each injection mould tool, leading to problems with distortion and the quality of each injection moulded part.
Our solution creates conformal cooled mould tool inserts:
- With complex curved, shaped or spiral cooling channels
- Easily formed in small, narrow or awkwardly-shaped inserts
- Cooling channels that precisely follow the shape of each injection mould tool insert
The result is a new generation of injection mould tools:
- Consistent and accurate cooling characteristics across the entire forming area
- Exceptionally high consistent quality injection moulded plastic parts.
What is conformal cooling?
Conformal cooling is the production of cooling channels within plastic injection mould tools that follow the shape of the cavity and core. This ensures that every critical part of the mould tool is cooled in a controlled and consistent manner. The results include better part quality and faster cycle time.
Until recently, it has been difficult to engineer effective conformal cooled injection mould tools, as channels need to be drilled directly into each mould tool; running straight cooling channels close enough to the mould cavity for efficient heat transfer can be challenging, especially when parts have complex geometries. Cooling channels also have to compete for space with other features, such as ejector pins or moving inserts, further reducing the efficiency of the cooling process.
Although injection mould toolmakers have developed solutions to this problem they add to the time, complexity and cost of producing each injection mould tool or mould tool insert.
A new approach to Conformal Cooling
The development of additive manufacturing technologies offers a new method of producing conformal cooling channels.
Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) allows complex shapes to be easily constructed, layer by layer. This allows channels of almost any shape to be incorporated into a design.
Conventional laser sintering systems, however, are relatively slow as they build each part and leave a surface finish that requires subsequent machining; this adds to cost and lead-time.
We have therefore invested in an innovative new technology: CNC hybrid metal additive manufacturing.
This produces a range of standard and customised conformal cooled inserts, under the name ConformL Cool.
Our CNC hybrid metal additive manufacturing system allows tool inserts, complete with custom-design conformal cooling channels, to be produced quickly and with extremely high levels of accuracy in a range of metals. Each insert is automatically finished to fine tolerances as it is built by an integrated machining head.
To improve lead-times still further, we can also build the customised injection mould tool inserts on standard tool parts, such as bolsters and injection plates, in our Rapid Production Mould Tools service.
As a result, we are able to reduce typical lead-times from more than 12 weeks to less than 6 weeks – often faster.