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How 3D Printed Injection Moulds Can Reduce Production Time & Tooling Cost

How 3D Printed Injection Moulds Can Reduce Production Time & Tooling Cost

As we all know injection moulding requires high initial investment, specialist equipment and lead time for tooling, this can significantly hinder the speed and cost to introduce new products to the market. However, with the continuous advancements in additive manufacturing 3D printing technology is now offering a cost-cutting, agile alternative solution to quickly design and fabricate mould for small runs of thermoplastics prototypes or end-use parts.

What is injection moulding?

Injection moulding is one of the leading processes for manufacturing plastics as it yields high-quality parts and is cost effective. Widely used for mass-producing identical parts with tight tolerances, it is a fast, intensive process where high heat and pressure are involved to melt thermoplastic and force it inside a mould.

Because of these extreme moulding conditions, the tools are traditionally made out of metal by CNC machining or electric discharge machining (EDM). However, these are expensive industrial methods that require specialised equipment, high-end software, and skilled labour.

Manufacturers are now turning to 3D printing to fabricate injection mould rapidly and at low cost. They can benefit from the speed and flexibility of in-house 3D printing to create the mould and couple it with the production force of injection moulding to deliver a series of units from common thermoplastics in a matter of days.

Challenges

Even though 3D printing moulds can offer these advantages when used appropriately, there are still some limitations. We should not expect the same performance from a 3D printing polymer mould as from a machined metallic one. Critical dimensions are harder to meet, cooling time is longer because the thermal transfer occurs slower in plastic, and printed moulds can easily break under heat and pressure. However, low-run injection moulds are great assets for engineers to deliver limited batches of end-use parts or prototypes in the final plastic, for pre-production tests.

Unlocking in demand mould fabrication with stereolithography (SLA)

Stereolithography (SLA) printing technology is a great choice for moulding. It is characterised by a smooth surface finish and high precision that the mould will transfer to the final part and that also facilitates demoulding.

In a recent webinar, Formlabs discusses how SLA printing enables in-demand mould fabrication to generate hundreds of parts, from idea to production, in a matter of days, at a fraction of the cost. Catch the re-run of the webinar here, and learn:

  • Expert processes to design a 3D printed mould for injection moulding.
  • Which printing and moulding conditions ensure success, including an overview of the Formlabs resins that Novus Applications and Braskem use for the moulds.

Strategies for the post-processing workflow, including ejection and demoulding

Real-life applications

Access the full white paper here and have a closer look at how this hybrid manufacturing process enables on-demand mould fabrication to quickly produce small batches of thermoplastic parts through real-life case studies with Braskem, Holimaker, and Novus Applications.

For more information, click here for an overview of methods and guidelines for using SLA 3D printed moulds in the injection moulding process.

 

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Formlabs Live Webinar: Significantly Reduce Your Injection Moulding Tooling Costs With In-House 3D Printed Moulds

Formlabs Live Webinar: Significantly Reduce Your Injection Moulding Tooling Costs With In-House 3D Printed Moulds

Injection molding requires high initial investment, specialist equipment and lead time for tooling, this can significantly hinder the speed and cost to introduce new products to the market. 3D printing technology offers a cost-cutting, agile solution to quickly design and fabricate molds for small runs of thermoplastics prototypes or end-use parts.

Join Formlabs in a live webinar on 2nd February 2021, 2pm SGT which will discuss how 3D printing can unlock in-demand mold fabrication to generate hundreds of parts. From idea to production in a matter of days at a fraction of the cost.

The session will cover a recommended workflow, design guidelines and injecting conditions to manufacture low-run injection molds with 3D printing. It will also discuss some use cases where customers are now using 3D printed molds from their Formlabs machine that cost less than half of a traditional in-house machined mould.

What you will learn:

  • Expert processes to design a 3D printed mold for injection molding
  • Which printing and molding conditions ensure success
  • An overview of the Formlabs resins that our customers Novus Applications and Braskem use for the molds
  • Strategies for the post-processing workflow, including ejection and demolding

Click here to register and to find out more about the webinar!

 

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Guhring Philippines Discusses Metal-Cutting Tool Landscape And Outlook

Guhring Philippines Discusses Metal-Cutting Tool Landscape And Outlook

Dale Andrew Reyes, president of Guhring Philippines Inc., talked about mould manufacturing challenges, opportunities and trends in the country, as well as his outlook for the rest of the year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Article by Stephen Las Marias.

Dale Andrew Reyes

Guhring Philippines Inc. (GPI) is a subsidiary of Gühring KG, one of the leading manufacturers of rotating precision tools for metal cutting. Established in 2009, GPI was initially a representative office, supporting local distributors through technical services. Due to the growing demand for Gühring tools in the Philippine market, the subsidiary was formed in September 2014 to directly support and cater the demands of its customers.

In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News, Dale Andrew Reyes, president of GPI, discussed mould manufacturing challenges, how they are helping their customers address these issue, and the opportunities they are seeing in the country. He also described the state of metalworking industry in the country, as well as provided his outlook for the rest of the year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

WHAT ARE THE KEY CHALLENGES IN MOULD MAKING?

Dale Andrew Reyes (DR): The most common we have seen is the efficiency. Some mould manufacturers are still used to old machining parameters without realizing that the machines and tools have evolved through the years. Machines nowadays have higher power output, can run at faster speeds, and have better accuracy. Cutting tools have also evolved in terms of material grade, geometry, and even coating. A lot of mould makers are not maximizing the capabilities of their machines and are still using low grade cutting tools which results to poor output.

WHERE DOES GUHRING COME IN TO ADDRESS THIS ISSUE?

DR: We at Guhring apply a more holistic approach in tackling this issue. We not only recommend the speeds and feeds of the tools, we also advise the customer on what possible changes they can do to improve the overall process. This will result in savings for the part of the customer. Savings in terms of tooling cost—tool life improvement, replacing multiple tools with one special tool—and in terms of process cost—faster cycle times, elimination of unnecessary processes.

WHAT OPPORTUNITIES ARE YOU SEEING IN THE PHILIPPINE MARKET?

DR: The demand for metal cutting tools has risen dramatically in recent years due to the increasing adoption of precision, digital services, and software. The rising popularity of the manufacturing industry has made a positive impact on the growth of the market. However, the impact of the recent crisis on COVID-19 has greatly affected the anticipated exponential growth. Now, we are seeing opportunities on a smaller scale machining industries, hardware, and machine shops with a higher potential to adapt with the new normal as the bigger manufacturing industries are struggling to catch up with the economic losses.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE METALWORKING INDUSTRY IN THE COUNTRY?

DR: Currently, the state of metalworking industry in the Philippines is adjusting to the latest manufacturing technologies. Companies are willing to invest, learn and adapt in order to compete and become more cost-efficient in their production. We realize most of our customers value the advance processes and tools we are offering them. Together with the training and support we provide, and their willingness to adapt to positive changes, we believe our customers will soon be able to match global levels.

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Automated Tool Inspection Solutions For High Speed And Precision

Automated Tool Inspection Solutions for High Speed and Precision

The introduction of precision and high-performance moulds has led to ever-increasing demands on mould manufacturers in recent years. Since the precision of the shape is determined by the dimensional accuracy of the electrode, it is essential to carry out accurate measurements of the size and shape of the electrode before processing the shape. Article by WENZEL.

Automated Tool Inspection Solutions for High Speed and Precision

The LHF 2517 is a large portal measuring instrument of gantry and bridge construction for medium and large workpieces. (Courtesy of WENZEL)

Changyuan Technology (Tianjin) Co. Ltd (CHYUAN) specialises in the development and manufacture of automotive injection moulds. With a planned production capacity of 450 million moulds, the company aims to develop into one of the largest single manufacturers of automotive injection moulds in northern China.

For increased efficient production of precision moulds, CHYUAN has commissioned an automated production line for electrodes and mould inserts, which enables the integration of electrode disassembly, processing, inspection, repair and offline processes. Since the measuring system used is the key to quality assurance, CHYUAN prefers the use of coordinate measuring machines (CMMs).

A CMM provides one of the most effective solutions for measuring and collecting dimension data. First, it can replace a variety of surface-to-surface measurement tools and expensive combined gauges. Secondly, the CMM can reduce the time required for complex measurements from hours to minutes. Thirdly, it guarantees both the efficiency and accuracy of measurement of size, shape and positional tolerance of the electrode.

Automated Measurements in the Direct Production Environment

CHYUAN relies on the WENZEL coordinate measuring devices XOrbit77 and LHF 2517. The figures represent the measuring volume in the X and Z axes of 700 mm x 700 mm and 2500 mm x 1700 mm, respectively. The XOrbit was seamlessly integrated into the production line for electrodes and mould inserts for automated 3D coordinate measurement in 2019. The CNC measuring device is ideally suited for the shopfloor environment and can be equipped with switching measuring and optical sensors. The XOrbit offers excellent value for money with high mechanical precision and low operating costs.

Meanwhile, the LHF 2517 is a large measuring instrument in gantry and bridge construction for medium and large workpieces. The floor-level design of the LHF allows easy assembly with large parts with high freedom of movement for the user. The double drive in the Y-axis of the LHF ensures high measuring speeds and excellent stability of the guides.

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Hexagon: Time-Saving And Productivity Enhancements In Latest VISI

Hexagon: Time-Saving And Productivity Enhancements In Latest VISI

A raft of new and enhanced functionality features in VISI 2021 – the latest release of Hexagon’s specialist mould and die CAD/CAM software.

CAD:

CAD analysis benefits from a new function which improves the suite of analysis shading modes. Draft Analysis has been added to the existing Undercut and Accessibility shading, performing an on-the-fly analysis of the draft angle. This uses the same technique as in the undercut mode, but extended to more ranges. The colours and angular value of each range can be changed by simply clicking on the colours or numeric labels on the graphics toolbar.

Repair functions used in the Repair Invalid Faces of Bodies command are now integrated in the Validate command. It is now also possible to zoom in on any potential issues using the Auto Zoom function.

Developments to the CAD Reverse module enhance the Reverse and Casting processes. VISI Product Owner Marco Cattaneo explains that the scanning operation has been improved with the shaded view, giving better and faster feedback.

With Point Scanning, the shaded point cloud is now shown during the scanning operation, giving the operator an immediate view of what has been correctly scanned, and if anything is missing.

An additional option has been added to automatically create a mesh as a scanning result, which he says is particularly valuable when a quicker, rather than detailed, result is needed.

Enhancements to probing during the Reverse process now detect the correct diameter of the part in relation to the position of the probed points. A Circle/Slot probing feature has been added for probing and designing a circle or slot, giving several options to guarantee the probed element is the correct size and in the correct position.

MOULD – Body to Mould

Additional options to existing commands, along with new items of functionality, make part position management considerably easier.

With Body to Mould, there is a new option to select multiple elements, including solids and surfaces, and move the selected bodies to the mould position. During the part positioning, ‘non-uniform scaling values’ can now be defined by the user, and the system automatically sets the relative shrinkage data in a special Assembly Manager field (Bill of Materials).

With Mould to Body, the system allows multiple element to be selected, including solids and surfaces, and to move the complete mould back into Body position. “This will be valuable for operators using CMM to check tools in the body position. When they select the part to move back, they get an option to select multiple elements to go with the tool back to Body position,” says Marco Cattaneo.

PROGRESS – Part Unfolding

To provide a powerful and complete solution to this new unfolding approach, additional features have been included for flanges and non-linear bends.  The Part Definition feature has been improved, giving better and faster part analysis, identifying the different face types, defining material, and setting linear bends unfolding. Different colours can be set, relating to different neutral fibre values, giving quick identification for unfolded linear bends and fibre value.

A new feature manages flange unfolding on the analysed part, and shows the result in preview mode, so the operator can evaluate the result and set different parameters, while preserving the link with the original part. This automatically recalculates the flanged part, meaning all linked parts can then be rebuilt in reference to a modification on the original.

CAM Simulation

An interface with Hexagon’s G-code simulator, NCSIMUL Advanced comes as a cost option in VISI 2021. Marco Cattaneo explains that NCSIMUL manages the complete machining process from the NC program to the machined part.

 

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The Global Aluminium Castings Market To Grow By US$32.1 Million Despite The Pandemic

The Global Aluminium Castings Market To Grow By US$32.1 Million Despite The Pandemic

Amid the COVID-19 crisis and the looming economic recession, the aluminium castings market worldwide will grow by a projected US$32.1 million from 2018 to 2025, driven by a revised compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.1 percent, according to a new report by Global Industry Analysts Inc.

Die casting, one of the segments analysed and sized in this study, is forecast to grow at over 6.7 percent and reach a market size of US$51.3 million by the end of the analysis period. An unusual period in history, the coronavirus pandemic has unleashed a series of unprecedented events affecting every industry. The die casting market will be reset to a new normal which, going forward in a post COVID-19 era, will be continuously redefined and redesigned. Staying on top of trends and accurate analysis is paramount now more than ever to manage uncertainty, change and continuously adapt to new and evolving market conditions.

The United States is forecast to readjust to a 4.9 percent CAGR, while within Europe, Germany will add over US$971.8 thousand to the region’s size over the next seven to eight years. In addition, over US$938.1 thousand worth of projected demand in the region will come from the rest of European markets. In Japan, the die casting segment will reach a market size of US$2.4 million by 2025.

Amid the growing push for decoupling and economic distancing, the changing relationship between China and the rest of the world will influence competition and opportunities in the aluminium castings market.

Against this backdrop and the changing geopolitical, business and consumer sentiments, the world’s second largest economy will grow at 10.2 percent over the next couple of years and add approximately US$8.5 million in terms of addressable market opportunity.

 

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Mouldmakers Turn To Process Automation In Race To Recover

Mouldmakers Turn To Process Automation In Race To Recover

As production begins to ramp up in some sectors, mould and die manufacturers turning to automation of design and manufacturing to regain lost revenues.

Swoosh Technologies & Solutions, a certified-Smart Siemens Digital Industries Software business partner, has noticed more interest in mould and die-specific programs that automate tasks in the design and manufacturing of moulds.

“By automating some of the more tedious and predictable steps in the production process like creating parting surfaces or feature recognition for CNC programming, manufacturers can step up the speed of production throughput with the workforce they have in place,” notes Dan Wibbenmeyer, Managing Partner at Swoosh Technologies.

“And in an industry like consumer products or automotive, speed of delivery and cost will determine who receives the order.”

A recent survey from the American Mould Builders Association found that most plant operations fared well during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic operating at full capacity, while only two percent had to shut down operations entirely. Those who specialise in the medical device market are seeing the highest production levels with 91 percent of companies reporting they are 90-100 percent staffed and 55 percent looking to add staff.

 

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DOST Metals Industry Research And Development Center Is Mass Producing 5000 Face Shields Daily

DOST Metals Industry Research and Development Center Is Mass Producing 5000 Face Shields Daily

The Department of Science and Technology – Metals Industry Research and Development Center (DOST-MIRDC) is ramping up production of medical face shields to meet the Philippines’ demands for personal protective equipment (PPEs) for the frontline workers battling COVID-19.

Through its Additive Manufacturing Center, DOST-MIRDC was initially producing 50 3D printing face shields a day. To ramp up its production, DOST-MIRDC has fabricated a plastic injection mould at the Die and Mould Solution Center in its Bicutan, Taguig City compound. Using plastic injection technology, it has boosted its production capabilities to 2,500 face shields a day.

READ: The AMable Project Promotes Flexible AM Solutions To Fight The Coronavirus

Furthermore, DOST-MIRDC has partnered with Omnifab, which fabricated another injection mould, and Megasamsotite Plant in San Pedro, Laguna which serves as another site for mass production—totalling production of another 2,500 face shields daily.

“With the mass production of the medical face shields being done simultaneously in Laguna and in Taguig, we can assure the enhanced protection of our frontliners,” said Engr. Fred P. Liza, Chief of the Materials and Process Research Division, and Project Leader of the DOST-MIRDC’s Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMCen).

READ: Automotive Manufacturing Developments In Southeast Asia Amid COVID-19

In addition, the Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI), another DOST R&D institute has 3D printed 100 face shields for Philippine Heat Center.

“As we make change happen through research and development, we find ways in helping out our new heroes facing COVID-19. We shall continue to look for better means to support our frontliners through research and development,” said Rowena Guevara, DOST undersecretary for R&D.

For other exclusive articles, visit www.equipment-news.com.

 

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Machining Centres: Measurement Made Easy

Machining Centres: Measurement Made Easy

Model and mould-maker Sammer, Machining Centres located in Eugendorf near Salzburg, Austria, is mostly engaged in the production of moulds for the automotive industry, including cylinder heads, crankcases and transmission housings. By Winfried Weiland, head of marketing, Blum-Novotest GmbH.

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Ironjaw: Clamping Force Booster System

Ironjaw: Clamping Force Booster System

Ironjaw’s clamping force booster system for injection presses can be adapted to all types of mould. It increases the capacity of the injection press which enables 30 to 60 percent more clamping force, depending on the machine’s configuration.

The clamping-force system can be used for automotive, building and construction, as well as other industries. The actual device attaches to the tool along its parting line, activating when the mould closes and then unclamping prior to the mould opening. Four sizes are available, which can boost injection moulding machine clamp force by 25, 50, 125, and 200 tons.

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