Stefan de Groot
A tooling Revolution for Plastic Injection Molding - with additive Manufacturing and Simulation Driven Design
Topology optimization is a computer based calculation procedure which can design mechanically stressed component structures in such a way that the highest possible rigidity can be achieved with minimal material usage. Only those parts of a component which are essential for the required flux of force and necessary stability are generated. This results in complex structures which can only be built partially or not at all using conventional production processes. At this point the advantages of additive manufacturing come into focus. Linking very few production restrictions with almost unlimited design flexibility, lightweight structures and material savings can be combined with a simultaneous increase in performance. PROTIQ GmbH seized this potential and developed a new, innovative injection molding tool. Instead of different, extensive milling- and eroding procedures from massive metal blocks, the basic structure of this tool was generated by selective laser melting. The result differs significantly from a classic tool and represents a bionic structure which is typical for topology optimized structures in additive manufacturing. One distinctive feature of the tool is a close contour cooling, which cannot be manufactured with conventional production processes. This optimized cooling leads to a significant reduction of cycle times in the workshop. Furthermore, in comparison to a standard tool a considerable weight reduction combined with faster manufacturing time of the injection molding tool could be achieved.