In the search for alternative materials to replace high thermal conductivity alloys such as beryllium copper alloys, tool designers are turning to additive manufacturing to deliver the moulding solutions of the future.
Tool designers put a great deal of effort into improving the thermal management of the mould to reduce the cycle time. One popular way to achieve this is to use mould materials with high thermal conductivity. Materials such as aluminium and beryllium copper are common replacements for traditional tool steels due to their increased thermal conductivity. Despite these materials proving to be an effective way to improve mould cycle times, they are not without their disadvantages.
The durability of aluminium mould tools is significantly lower than their tool steel counterparts. As a result, they are prone to premature wear and, in many cases cracking due to their reduced hardness and strength. While beryllium copper can prove more effective than aluminium due to its improved mechanical properties, there are significant environmental and health issues related to the manufacture and maintenance of beryllium copper moulds. This, in turn, can lead to more complex and costly mould manufacturing and maintenance processes over the life of the tool.
The adoption of additive manufacturing (AM) and the implementation of conformal cooling gives the tool designer greater control over the thermal characteristics of the insert. When implemented correctly, AM can significantly improve tool productivity in a number of areas by reducing cycle time, the number of part defects per batch, and (if a high-performance tool steel is used) extending tool life.
Replacing conventional beryllium copper inserts with 3D printed versions has proven an effective way to improve mould productivity. These inserts are produced by Selective Laser Melting and contain conformal cooling circuits designed specifically for each customers moulding process. The inserts are printed using Uddeholm’s own high-performance tool steels (Uddeholm Corrax® for AM) to ensure the highest possible tool life. The ability to incorporate the conformal cooling system without changing the design of the insert means the printed parts can enter production with minimum disruption to the end-user.
Contact Uddeholm to find out more about its materials and services for additive manufacturing. Let Uddeholm be your partner in the journey to new tooling possibilities.
Article Courtesy of https://www.plastikmedia.co.uk