A seamless, new tool-making process will be one of the
highlights for design engineers of the The Emerging Technology Center at next month's International
Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS).
GF AgieCharmilles is partnering with EOS to demonstrate a nearly automatic process for creating injection and blow mold tooling with conformal cooling channels. Conformal cooling refers to curving channels that allow better control of hot spots, reducing cycle times and improving quality. In traditional mold manufacturing, channels are drilled in straight lines.
Click here to see a video of the conformal cooling process.
Additive manufacturing first developed for rapid prototypes are a game changer in tool design because they allow production of intricate, curving internal channels based on a CAD file. In the selective laser sintering process used by EOS, metal or plastics are deposited in minute layers.
In the IMTS demonstration, an EOSINT M 270 direct metal laser-sintering (DMLS) system will create a steel mold for a plastic, blow-molded golf ball, complete with conformal cooling channels and the fixturing needed for all successive stages of machining.
This mold will then move through a secondary process chain that includes a GF AgieCharmilles HSM 400U LP high-speed milling machine, a FO 350MS die sinking EDM, and a Cut20P wire EDM. The wire EDM cuts off the fixturing; the HSM 400ULP will cut the parting lines for a flash-free (no leakage) surface, leaving the mold ready for use.
The DMLS process produces a near-net part. Single fixturing
is then used for all secondary operations to reduce manual benchworking and
generate surface finishes accurate to within three to five microns. The process
minimizes scrap by eliminating many of the progressive operations involved in
subtractive toolmaking processes that start with a block of raw material.
"Our technologies are a perfect fit for moldmaking and the transfer between our systems is unique," says Gisbert Ledvon, business development manager at GF AgieCharmilles U.S. "By joining with EOS, we have established a complete process chain, available globally."
Conformal-cooled molds generally reduce part-production cycle times 17 to 20 percent and, in some cases, as high as 45 percent. The extra cost is justified only for
GF AgieCharmilles is a supplier of laser ablation centers, wire EDM, CNC and manual diesinking systems, and high-speed/performance and 5-axis CNC milling machines.