Trumpf GmbH + Co KG, Ditzingen, Germany, will showcase some of the ways in which its metal Additive Manufacturing technology can enable companies to make the most of AM’s benefits for the tool, pattern and mould making industry, at the international Moulding Expo trade fair, Stuttgart, Germany, May 21–24, 2019.
One of the key benefits of metal Additive Manufacturing is the ability to produce tools with integrated cooling channels for temperature control. Tools manufactured in this way dissipate the heat generated during the production process directly at its source, reducing cycle time and improving the quality of the fabricated parts.
Conventionally, manufacturers have produced cooling channels in moulds for injection moulding or die casting using methods such as milling. However, these conventional manufacturing methods are very limited in their ability to create cooling channels in moulds for complex-shaped parts, as Marc Dimter, a Trumpf industry sector manager for tool and mould making, explains. “The difficulties are particularly evident with more complex shapes: we can’t get the drill into all the right places because we can’t drill around corners!”
Moulds produced by Additive Manufacturing are built layer-by-layer, with the cooling channel built into the part’s structure, rather than machined into a solid mould after building is complete. This enables the construction of cooling channels that run almost parallel to the tool wall. The biggest benefit of this is the reduction in cycle time that stems from faster cooling of the tool, and part quality may also improve due to the prevention of distortion, and faster cooling results in more homogenous material properties in both injection moulding and die casting.
Despite these advantages, Trumpf stated that German toolmakers have been slow to adopt Additive Manufacturing technologies. “Many companies lack the necessary expertise and are unwilling to make the investment,” stated Christoph Dörr, who also works at Trumpf as an industry sector manager for the tool and mould making industry. He noted that US companies that supply their moulds to Europe have already built up a strong lead.
As a result, Trumpf commented that it is taking the opportunity offered by Moulding Expo to showcase its TruPrint 1000 AM machine as an entry-level model for the industry. The ‘plug and play’ design of the system is said to make it easy to install and operate, and it is particularly suitable for small injection mould inserts such as those used for plastic connectors in the electronics industry.
Trumpf will also present a selection of additively manufactured and moulds with optimised cooling at the fair. These include an additively manufactured gate bushing, which Trumpf produced to reduce one customer’s cycle time by almost 30%. “We’re hoping to inspire toolmakers to exploit the huge potential of 3D printing. That’s why we also offer them training in 3D design,” added Dörr. Trumpf also supplies the powder and parameters for each application directly, with the aim of making it easier for companies to adopt this new technology.