Conformal Cooling Design and Manufacturing
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The overall cycle time for an injection moulding process is comprised of 70% cooling time on average. 3D Printing Conformal cooling reduces cycle times and deficiencies during the moulding process.
3D Printing Conformal Cooling is design strategy implemented when designing injection mould inserts. It has been revolutionised in the last 3 to 5 years by 3D Printing (also called Additive Manufacturing(AM)).
Traditional moulding processes now benefit from 3D printing because, with AM moulding inserts can now be designed and manufactured with cooling passageways. These passageways follow the shape, or profile, of the mould core or cavity. The cooling passages are technically named ‘Conformal Cooling Circuits’.
Injection Mould Cooling Circuits have been implemented in the past, but have been bored into the mould inserts in a linear fashion. Linear cooling circuits are just that, linear. The distance along the cooling circuit, and between the mould core or cavity, is in turn not consistent. This creates cooling dead spots which leads to imperfections in the moulding and cooling process. Additionally, it can lead to related imperfections in the finished moulded product.
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Deficiencies that Can Occur in the Injection Moulding Process:
- Flow Lines
- Sink Marks
- Vacuum Voids
- Surface Delamination
- Weld Lines
- Short Shots
- Burn Marks
To determine what effect 3D Printing Conformal Cooling will have on a injection moulded product, an analysis can be carried out. This can be done using a combination of people, software, hardware, and manufacturing systems. The analysis demonstrates how the injection moulding process can be modified by implementing conformal cooling channels. End results tend to be the elimination of defects, moulding process deficiencies, and reduced cycle times. Typically, a concise report is provided including what deficiencies and defects will be avoided. Additionally, it will include what improvements in cycle time should be experienced.