Case Study 3D printing and software make the design of cooling channels easier
Keeping an even temperature on the surface of the mould is a challenge. In their quest to maintain even temperatures, manufacturers have tried many things. 3D printing may offer a solution.
Over the last decade or so, conformal cooling – cooling channels that naturally follow the contours of the part to be produced – has been positioned as a solution for controlling injection-moulding temperatures. But conformal cooling adds new layers of design and production complexity to the mould-making process, placing it beyond the means of most shops.
Bastech, an Ohio-based one-source solution provider for shop floor, additive manufacturing services and equipment sales, has wrestled with temperature issues, but believes it has found a way to introduce a new level of simplicity, efficiency and economy to conformal cooling.
Bastech’s breakthrough, documented in two recent benchmark tests, is based on 3D Systems’ Cimatron mould-making software and its Pro X DMP 200 direct-metal printing system.
Simulations for the conformal cooling mould designs are performed using Moldex 3D software, a partner of 3D Systems, and the completed DMP moulds are inspected using 3D Systems' Geomagic Control software.
“The combination of powerful software designed to leverage the full capabilities of 3D printing with printers that deliver a fully dense metal part with smooth surfaces and limited post processing provides a rock-solid methodology for building customised cooling moulds,” says Ben Staub, CEO of Bastech.
Bastech’s first benchmark compared two very similar parts in terms of volume, size and design configuration. One was designed with a conformal core and then 3D-printed; the other was designed with a standard spiral baffle configuration and manufactured by conventional means.