Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, has revolutionized the way products are designed and manufactured. It has particularly impacted the field of plastic injection molding in tool engineering, which involves the design and creation of molds used to shape plastic parts through the process of injection molding.
Traditionally, plastic injection molding tooling has relied on subtractive manufacturing methods, such as milling or grinding, to create the molds. These methods involve removing material from a solid block in order to achieve the desired shape. However, additive manufacturing offers a different approach that has the potential to greatly enhance the efficiency and capabilities of tooling in plastic injection molding.
Additive manufacturing is revolutionizing the way products are designed and manufactured, allowing for complex structures that were never before attainable. Through this process of adding material layer-by-layer instead of removing it, designers can now unlock previously untapped creativity while enjoying enhanced features such as conformal cooling and more efficient thermo-management.
Applying the power of laser technology, additive manufacturing provides a revolutionary approach to plastic injection molding tool engineering. Complex internal structures or channels can be engineered by fusing thin layers of powdered metal in optimized laid out shapes and patterns, providing an advantage in temperature control that was previously impossible.
Traditionally, plastic injection molders faced issues like defects resulting in high scrap rates, long cycle times, high maintenance or production costs. However, additive manufacturing has the potential to mitigate these problems. By using additive manufacturing techniques, molds can now be created with a range of new capabilities that were previously technically almost impossible or very costly. From conformal cooling to integrated sensors or venting structures, the possibilities are endless! Exploiting this design freedom, additive manufacturing can reduce cycle times and thus increase productivity dramatically. In one case, our additive manufacturing solution was able to reduce the cycle time by more than 40% for the customer.
Additive manufacturing not only offers cost savings for the customer, but its superior material utilization rates compared to subtractive methods also results in a reduced environmental impact. This more sustainable use of materials leads to an overall decreased carbon footprint.
With their optimized conformal cooling solutions, AM inserts have revolutionized the production of bottle cap tools. This conformal cooling not only leads to a stable and efficient process but also decreases total costs per produced part. Through the use of additive manufacturing, engineers can create complex shaped and precise cooling channels for components without risking local hot spots or relying on copper beryllium—a toxic material. This method may also eliminate additional joining processes like vacuum brazing that is required with traditional manufacturing techniques for incorporating conformal cooling channels. This can significantly simplify the whole manufacturing route due to a single-part design, which also mitigates possible leakage between the joined parts.
Coca-Cola Great Britain and Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) GB are collaborating to expand the use of attached caps on 500ml plastic bottles. This innovative move, along with further packaging developments across their entire portfolio, is aimed at improving recycling rates while preventing waste in accordance with the European Union’s directive for tackling single-use plastic products by 2024. Additive manufacturing has the potential to revolutionizes bottle cap design with innovative tool inserts that incorporate hinges to reduce reliance on single-use plastic. By attacking a complex challenge head-on, AM could have an enormous positive environmental impact!
Similarly, with the help of AM Inserts for Cylindrical Containers, our customers have experienced a significant improvement in their production: a reduced cycle time by up to 26%, improved part tolerances due to a more homogeneous temperature distribution and thus less warpage. We provide optimized conformal cooling solutions to ensure stable and efficient operations, with cost reductions per produced plastic part being one of our main goals.
voestalpine flow filters offer revolutionary, cutting-edge 3D printing solutions for plastic injection molders. Not only do they prevent expensive blockages and maintenance costs caused by contamination, but these nozzle filters are also equipped with a static mixer to reduce pressure drop and shear stress while decreasing masterbatch consumption—keeping production running smoothly without compromising on efficiency.
These are just a few examples of how additive manufacturing is revolutionizing the field of plastic injection molding tooling. With additive manufacturing tools, defect prevention and cycle time reduction can be achieved more efficiently than ever before. As additive manufacturing technology continues to make great strides forward, the future of plastic injection molding looks very promising indeed!
We’re here to help you every step of the way. With our combination of decades-long expertise in both material development and processing as well as tool design, we offer a comprehensive package consisting of all the production services necessary for success. We also provide complete support throughout the entire value chain, with a full suite of production services. Our end-to-end solutions are designed to reduce waste, lower risk in the supply chain, and create bespoke components from concept through to manufacturing—ultimately becoming your trusted partner every step of the way.
Our customers benefit from our comprehensive combination of premium materials, additive manufacturing process knowledge and long experience in plastic injection molding tool engineering, which allows us to provide high-quality customer-specific solutions. With careful consultation, state-of-the-art technology, and design reworking when needed, we develop precisely tailored products suitable for any application. Additionally, our data driven approach takes thermo-management into account by using process simulations informed by processing parameters and mechanical loads, ensuring a perfect balance between cooling efficiency and stability is achieved in every solution.
Our comprehensive production process results in parts of exceptional quality and reliability. We maintain a keen focus on innovative solutions, using design of experiments, statistical process control and advanced printing tools to guarantee superior material properties even when the application is complex or challenging. In addition to expert engineering services such as heat treatment and final machining, if required, texturing and PVD coating can take our offerings to another level.
Thanks to this refined procedure, we can offer customers unmatched confidence that their 3D-printed components will be up to standard every time!
The future of plastic injection molding tooling has arrived! Additive manufacturing is set to become an integral part of it. The combination of design flexibility, defect prevention, and cycle time reduction makes additive manufacturing a key player in the advancement of plastic injection molding technology. voestalpine is proud to be at the forefront of this revolution by providing our customers with the highest quality engineered products for their needs. Together, we will continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in plastic injection molding tooling.
With additive manufacturing, voestalpine provides end-to-end support from our experts with decades of material and processing experience. Our optimized designs for enhanced results and control over every step of the value chain ensure parts with dependable quality, reliability, and consistency. Take advantage of additive manufacturing today to get ahead in the industry!