Conformally cooled mould tool inserts reduce cycle time by 20 per cent

Paul Boughton
A key area of the injection moulding process, which significantly impacts the overall cycle, is the time required for cooling prior to de-moulding. It is clear therefore that finding ways to reduce the cooling cycle, whilst maintaining or better still improving product quality, is a prime target for mould tool designers.

An extensive study by the Vlaams Plastics Centre in Kortrijk Belgium, compared the time required to achieve a targeted de-mould temperature using mould tool inserts produced in different materials by conventional machining methods, with a conformally cooled insert produced using the LaserCUSING process. These tests were also conducted using two different polymers PP (polypropylene) and ASA (acrylic ester-styrene-acrylonitrile)

The use of LaserCUSING technology, a process from the field of rapid tooling/prototyping manufacturing, allows tool and mould makers to produce mould inserts with individually configured close-contour cooling channels.

The results of this independent study confirmed that inserts produced by LaserCUSING bring significant benefits. The cycle time required to achieve the target de-mould temperature of 65 degrees was just 24 seconds with the LaserCUSING insert compared to 31 seconds with a conventional steel insert, a saving of 7.0 seconds or 20 per cent. A further benefit was the reduction in component distortion, by as much as 36 per cent, when measured after de-moulding.

With definitive results such as this, mould tool inserts manufactured by the LaserCUSING process and incorporating conformal cooling channels look set to become an integral and indispensable part of mould tool design in the future.

These results were consistent across the two different polymers tested.

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Concept Laser GmbH is based in Lichtenfels Germany.

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