Metal Additive Manufacturing for tool makers highlighted by AddUp and WBA

ApplicationsNews
September 6, 2023

September 6, 2023

By adapting the shape of the channels to cool the surface of the part more homogeneously, manufacturers can improve the quality of their products. Seen here is the mould optimised for Siebenwurst (Courtesy AddUp)
By adapting the shape of the channels to cool the surface of the part more homogeneously, manufacturers can improve the quality of their products. Seen here is the mould optimised for Siebenwurst (Courtesy AddUp)

AddUp SAS, headquartered in Cébazat, France, has partnered with WBA Aachener Werkzeugbau Akademie (WBA), in Aachen, Germany, to demonstrate the advantages of metal Additive Manufacturing for the mould making industry. After launching a Tooling Study in January 2023, the team found six tool-making companies that each identified existing moulds to be tested. AddUp and WBA have now produced the first prototypes of these injection moulds, all with optimised internal cooling channels.

Traditionally, manufacturers using injection moulding must contend with certain constraints that are inherent to the moulding process. Specifically, the mould’s performance is directly related to its ability to cool the injected parts. However, AM technology can be used to create complex cooling channels that are positioned as close as possible to the mould walls. By adapting the shape of these channels to cool the surface of the part more homogeneously, manufacturers can improve the quality of their products and experience higher productivity, as well as reduced cooling and cycle times.

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The companies selected for the Tooling Study were Pöppelmann, Siebenwurst, Harting, Zahoransky, GIRA, and Framas. They were given the opportunity to test the introduction of Additive Manufacturing into their workflow, and specifically implement the technical and economic advantages that AM technology brings to their injection moulds.

The complex cooling channels for the new mould can be seen below. This mould was chosen by Framas (Courtesy AddUp)
The complex cooling channels for the new mould can be seen below. This mould was chosen by Framas (Courtesy AddUp)
This tool was optimised for Gira, the original version is on the left, with the additively manufactured version on the right (Courtesy AddUp)
This tool was optimised for Gira, the original version is on the left, with the additively manufactured version on the right (Courtesy AddUp)

Once selected, AddUp and its partners evaluated each injection mould to determine how it could be optimised with Additive Manufacturing. Each part was then redesigned for AM, optimised for conformal cooling, and manufactured on AddUp’s 4-laser FormUp 350 Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-LB) Additive Manufacturing machine at AddUp’s AM Tooling Competence Centre in Aachen.

AddUp established its AM Tooling Competence Centre in Aachen, in partnership with WBA, in early 2023. This facility, which also serves as AddUp’s German subsidiary, gives tooling manufacturers access to AddUp’s Additive Manufacturing machines. Users can also submit application cases for evaluation and study of all aspects of their project, from the design when applied to PBF-LB, to profitability analysis and study of series production.

Optimised for Harting, the internal cooling channels can be seen in the drawing on the right (Courtesy AddUp)
Optimised for Harting, the internal cooling channels can be seen in the drawing on the right (Courtesy AddUp)
This tooling was optimised for Poppelmann (Courtesy AddUp)
This tooling was optimised for Poppelmann (Courtesy AddUp)

AddUp explained that the choice of material is critical for tool makers, as moulds must meet high requirements, especially in terms of corrosion resistance, heat conductivity, and fatigue. Leveraging its twenty years of experience in AM, AddUp used Maraging 300, a material successfully used in series production by Michelin to manufacture over a million tyre mould sipes per year. In addition to Maraging 300, AddUp recently announced build parameters for AISI 420, a corrosion-resistant tool steel also known as 1.2083 in the German standard. It is expected that this new material will enable tooling manufacturers produce even more complex and efficient moulds.

For the project, post-processing was completed by the tooling company itself or by the WBA. Each of these ready-to-use moulds is now being sampled on the respective tooling company’s production lines, and the comparative data will be provided to WBA. The final results of the Tooling Study will be presented and published at the WBA’s General Assembly in late 2023.

This study was also supported by companies including iQTemp, Deutsche Edelstahlwerke, 3D Laser BW, and Siemens NX, as well as institutes, such as Fraunhofer ILT and ACAM.

AddUp plans to launch a follow-up Tooling Study this autumn, and is inviting any tool makers interested to get in touch.

werkzeugbau-akademie.de

www.addupsolutions.com

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ApplicationsNews
September 6, 2023

In the latest issue of Metal AM magazine

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Extensive AM industry news coverage, as well as the following exclusive deep-dive articles:

  • The GRCop story: The development, production and Additive Manufacturing of NASA’s rocket engine alloys
  • Formnext 2023: Innovations in metal Additive Manufacturing from the industry’s leading international exhibition
  • Cybersecurity in Additive Manufacturing: Securing the industry’s future
  • Additive Manufacturing in the jewellery industry: exploring the potential of platinum and titanium
  • Mission possible: The five-year plan to gain FAA and EASA acceptance of in-process monitoring

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