One area where plastics molding productivity can improve is in application of conformal cooling in molds. While widely talked about for years, the concept has been slow to catch on, partly due to increased tooling cost and continued emphasis on initial price by some buyers.
Conformal cooling refers to the ability to provide cooling channels that conform to curved shapes in parts. Additive manufacturing allows production of intricate curving channels inside three-dimensional parts. Machining alone can only generate straight channels.
In an interesting development, CoreTech System (Moldex3D) Co., a Taiwanese simulation supplier, is joining forces with OPM Laboratory Co., a Japanese manufacturer of structures—such as mold inserts– using milling-combined laser metal sintering. The goal of the joint project is to design and verify effective conformal cooling systems at lower costs.
CoreTech System (Moldex3D) debuted a 3D conformal cooling analysis in Moldex3D R11.0 early this year. CoreTech System (Moldex3D) and OPM are jointly establishing a detailed plan and specifications for further development and validations. OPM has developed private software used in die making.
NyproMold in Clinton, MA, is one of the few U.S. tool makers that has invested in expensive additive manufacturing equipment to produce conformal tool inserts.