German toolmakers are still reluctant to take advantage of 3D Printing. Despite the potential of the technology, it remains a big investment for companies in terms of labour work, and change in the production workflow, to drastically move from one technology to another.
At the technical level, a key advantage of using additive manufacturing is the ability to make tools with near-net-shape cooling. Tools manufactured in this way dissipate the heat generated during the production process directly at its source. This reduces cycle time and improves the quality of the produced parts.
Using 3D printing as an alternative to prevent distortion of parts
Producing parts by injection molding or die casting generates heat. To dissipate this heat, manufacturers equip the molds with cooling channels that help keep temperatures as stable as possible to prevent distortion of the part and similar problems. Conventional methods such as milling, however, soon reach their limits when it comes to creating these channels.
“The difficulties are particularly evident with more complex shapes: we can’t get the drill into all the right places because we can’t drill around corners!” says Marc Dimter, a TRUMPF industry sector manager who is responsible for tool and mold making. In contrast, 3D printers build up the mold layer by layer, enabling the construction of cooling channels that run almost parallel to the tool wall.
Furthermore, since distortion is no longer an issue to worry about, we then observe an improvement in the quality of the manufactured part.
“Many companies lack the necessary expertise and are unwilling to make the investment,” says Christoph Dörr, who also works at TRUMPF as an industry sector manager for the tool and mold making industry.
That’s the reason why, the company aims at showcasing at the Moulding Expo its TruPrint 1000 3D printer as an entry-level model.
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