In recent years, Additive Manufacturing has shown great potential in revolutionising the way we manufacture. Government budgets and Industries are adopting this technology like never before. For Example, giants such as TATA motors, GE Aerospace have invested in metal 3D printing. Injection Molding Industry is another leading consumer of 3D Printing for manufacturing conformal cooling channels in injection molded dies.
Injection molding process is a widely accepted process for mass production of complex plastic parts where molten plastic is forced to enter a die and cool down to get the desired shape. Conventionally produced dies have straight cooling channels which are less efficient and accounts for longer cooling time whereas conformal cooling channels are curved and follow the part geometry to be cooled inside a mold. Traditional manufacturing machines can only drill a hole in straight line, however latest 3D printing machines can produce curved cooling channels.
As it appears, Conformal cooling channel is primarily deployed to enhance the overall cooling effect on a molded part. Along with the cooling efficiency, it considerably surges the productivity and quality of molded parts. A case study suggests that implementation of Conformal Cooling Channel increases the productivity up to 50% which is a huge number and therefore industries can’t afford to neglect it anymore.
Furthermore, Conformal channels have direct positive impact on part warpage and shrinkage. Uniform Cooling induces optimum residual stresses within a part and consequently reduces warpage, resulting in excellent part quality and improved aesthetics. Indeed, it has proven that up to 50% reduction in warpage can be achieved.
Although these numbers are appealing, they are dependent on cooling channel design and analysis. Changing channel design or analysis parameters will affect the results and therefore, expertise is mandatory in this domain to achieve minimum cooling time. There are many finite element analysis software available in the market such as Autodesk Mold flow Insight which are capable of handling such complex projects.
In conclusion, Conformal cooling channel produced by 3D Incredible using 3D printing technology enhances the overall productivity by up to 10-50% which not only saves production time but also improves surface quality. Saved production time can be utilised to produce new products or even greater quantity per day. Additionally, fewer machines are required to produce intended number of parts per day, reducing initial investment, space and labour required.