Mold Cooling & Conformal Cooling Channels
Metal additive manufacturing can be used to help improve production cycle times and productivity in injection molding.
Metal mold tools used for injection molding contain channels to cool the mold. With conventional tool-making methods, these cooling channels are drilled into the tool in straight lines. Metal additive manufacturing allows cooling channels to be designed and built to perfectly contour the mold. This helps to improve cooling performance, extend the life of the mold and reduce waste.
The medical orthopedic industry benefits from manufacturing complex geometries and structures in high grade materials such as titanium.
Modern 5-axis CNC machines are capable of positioning tools into tight, hard-to-reach places, but there are still features which cannot be accessed by these tools. This isn't the only concern; a feature must have enough strength and rigidity to resist the forces of a milling tool. Failure to account for this can lead to poor quality surfaces, or even damage to the part. These factors may limit the manufacturing of the technician's design to something that only closely resembles what is required, rather than accurately reproducing it. Most often this will lead to manual finishing of the part.
Metal additive manufactured parts are used in the aerospace industry for functional parts including engine turbine blades, fuel systems and guide vanes.
The topological optimization of parts can improve functionality and reduce weight. Lighter parts can contribute to a lighter aircraft and greatly reduce fuel consumption.
The motor sport industry has adopted metal additive manufacturing to produce customized parts such as cooling ducts.
Speed of turnaround of prototyped parts is key to maintaining a competitive advantage. Functional metal parts can be rapidly produced and performance tested.