Raul Perez Bustamante, professor of CONACYT indicated that additive manufacturing is the current interest of study from the scientific sector for the storage of advanced materials with potential applications in repairing or design processes; however, this technology offers very attractive characteristics for the industrial sector.
“Particularly the molds, dies and tooling industry finds in this tool a competitive advantage towards a quick and innovative solution in repair and design of components related to this sector,” he noted.
Regarding the field of injection molds, its capability has been exploited on complicated geometry design for cooling channels, which allow efficiently controlling heat dissipation during injection cycles, reducing thus mold thermal fatigue.
These improvements have proven to reduce time in manufacturing cycle of plastic products.
“Although this technology is currently at disadvantage regarding production of high quality superficial finish parts offered by conventional manufacturing, it is particularly useful to design those components that not require a detailed superficial finish,” said Raul Perez Bustamante.
Nevertheless, recent research show that electroformed processes, in combination with 3D printing, they allow obtaining high quality superficial finishes for the manufacturing of those plastic elements requiring a polished surface free of textures.
On the other hand, in conformed processes tooling manufacturing is oriented towards the design of unique pieces of quick manufacturing used in massive production processes, offering the possibility of being manufactured in few days at a cost fraction of traditional process.
The process of powder addition through multilayer for tooling industrial design is currently limited by its size. To face this problem, hybrid tooling has been designed where tooling core is conventionally manufacturing through chip removing processes, later applying high hardness metal powder through additive manufacturing routes.
Regardless the manufacturing method, tooling, either injection molds or dies, are exposed to severe working conditions involving wear, impact, corrosion, as well as thermal cycles that increase its deterioration.
Finally, Raul Perez Bustamante said that additive manufacturing is a valuable tool when considering tooling repair or reconstruction instead of replacement, opening doors to techniques such as laser sintering, where metal powder can directly settled on the damaged part, or rebuild, resulting on a component with good mechanic properties.