Desktop Metal, Burlington, Massachusetts, USA, has made available H13 tool steel for metal Additive Manufacturing using its Studio System™. H13 tool steel is said to be known for its stability in heat treatment, exceptional hot hardness and abrasion resistance and is widely used in hot work applications.
The company states that early examples of H13 parts produced using the Studio System highlight its benefits across a range of industries, including:
- Medical industry: Mouthpiece injection mould core
Desktop Metal explains that injection mould cores are used for the moulding of mouthpieces for asthma inhalers and H13 is an ideal material for this part due to its hot hardness and abrasion resistance. During the injection moulding process, the cooling of a mould like this can conventionally account for up to 95% of the mould’s entire cycle time.
By additively manufacturing the mould using the Studio System, it is possible to incorporate a conformal cooling channel into the part that closely follows the moulding surfaces profile, increasing the cooling rate of the mould. This is said to significantly reduce the mould’s cycle time, which may allow more parts to be moulded every hour.
- Industry: Extrusion die
The complex geometry of an extrusion die can often make it a difficult part to machine. This limits the ability of manufacturers to iterate on the extrusion die design, due in part to the high lead time and cost of machining.
Additionally, the part must be able to withstand the extreme temperatures and pressures required to successfully push molten materials through the extrusion die. The use of H13 tool steel enables design teams to quickly and easily produce dies featuring complex extrusion profiles previously unattainable via machining.
- Fashion/consumer products: Zipper die casting mould
This part is used to mould a zinc zipper that is then attached to an article of clothing. The mould features numerous fine details, such as a logo, textures and subtle draft angles, that are critical to the part’s moulding success.
According to Desktop Metal, using the Studio System’s high resolution nozzle, it is possible to achieve the fine details required for this part and also save valuable time and costs compared to conventional methods of machining the mould. H13’s hot work capability also enables the fabrication of moulds for die casting applications.
Ric Fulop, CEO and co-founder of Desktop Metal, stated, “Expanding the Studio System materials portfolio to include H13 tool steel enables designers and engineers to print mould inserts, extrusion dies, forging dies and sheet metal tooling, including stamping, embossing, bending, and countersinking.”
“This is a key competitive advantage to enable rapid iteration and refinement of tools requiring H13, and the reduction of manufacturing lead times,” he continued. “Teams will also be able to achieve complex geometries that have not been possible with traditional manufacturing methods like machining.”
“Wear resistance, high hardness, toughness, and resistance to thermal fatigue are just a few of H13’s benefits. The downside was always getting a tool maker to want to work with it. Now that it is available with the Studio System, all of these same benefits will be ready to deploy to the shop floor in days rather than months.”