A common misconception of 3D printing is that it is a direct process replacement for a traditional machine tool. With production 3D printing, or Additive Manufacturing, the value is in the products that one can make, not as a process replacement.
3DPrintedParts.com recently completed a project that exemplifies this product value with a high-performing injection mold insert.
While a conventional injection mold insert could be machined, we were able to embrace the design capabilities of 3D printing and focus on creating the most value in the design of the part. We call these value added features, Intelligent Geometry.
There are two specific features in which 3D printing capabilities were leveraged for this part:
Conformal Cooling – The insert features conformal cooling to help manage the temperature of the insert. The profile of the cooling channel follows the shape of the hot runner, as round features are not necessary for this process.
Hexagon Mesh Infill – The tool also features a hexagon mesh infill on the back side of the insert. In conventional machining, it would be foolish to machine away material that doesn’t add value to your finished part. With 3D printing it is foolish to add material that doesn’t add value to your part. With direct-metal laser melting, more material means more laser time, thusly, higher costs. In this instance, the mesh acted as a heat sink, directing more energy away from the mold surfaces, further enhancing the printed cavity.
These features, combined with a collapsible core from Diamond Tool and Engineering, reduced the overall cycle time of the part from 35 seconds per shot down to 6.7 seconds per shot. This significant time reduction was only achievable through 3D printing with a focus on Intelligent Geometry.
At 3DPrintedParts.com, we’re ready to focus on your design challenges and help to make the most of your investment in 3D printing.