AMT 3D - Conformal Cooling

Conformal Cooling

Conformal cooling inserts are commonly used in plastic injection molding applications. These are inserts with complex internal cooling channels which follow the shape of the cavity and core of the mold. These channels need to be close to the hot spots in the mold to ensure uniform temperature across the mold. Usage of the conformal cooling insert helps to shorten the injection cycle time, improve efficiency, enhance product quality as well as achieve overall cost savings.

Due to the complex internal cooling channels and geometries, the conformal cooling inserts can only be manufactured using 3D printing process. One good example is the use of AMT Selective Laser Melting process (SLM).

Advantages of using 3D Printing Conformal Cooling

  • Able to manufacture high complex tool insert
  • Able to optimize the design of the tooling insert
  • Able to optimize the cooling system, resulting in shorter cycle time (> 50% cycle time reduction easily achievable)
  • Resolves part warpage and sink mark due to uneven cooling of part
  • Increases overall production yield
  • Increases injection machine capacity
  • Increases profit margin of part
  • Helps product designers perfect their ideas

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Step 1 – Mixing

Very fine metal or ceramic powder is mixed with a thermoplastic polymer (known as the binder) to form a homogeneous mixture of ingredients. The mixture or feedstock is made into granulated pellets and directly fed into the injection machine.

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Step 2 – Injection

During injection, the feedstock is heated and injected into the cavity of the mold. This allows the desired shapes and geometries to be formed. The molded part is known as the green part.

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Step 3 – Debinding

The polymeric binder is removed thermally via the debinding process. The green part is subjected to the debinding process at a high temperature while maintaining its relative size and shape. The brown part consists of a powder skeleton that is brittle and porous.

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Step 4 – Sintering

The final stage of the PIM process is sintering. During sintering, the brown part is heated to below its melting temperature. As sintering progresses, density increases, pores are eliminated and the part shrinks to achieve a dense and near-net shape component.

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