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Content archived on 2024-04-30

Rapid recyclable tooling manufactured from sodium silicate bound particulate materials


Industrial Need It is widely recognised that one of the most critical factors determining the competitiveness of manufacturing industries is an ability to reduce time-to-market. At the same time there is increasing pressure on industry to employ production processes which have a little or no effect on the environment. The proposed project aims at developing a relatively cheap and rapid method of manufacturing tooling which can be "dissolved" in water after use and the material recycled into new tooling. Project Objectives The overall objectives of the project are to : (1) reduce time to market by developing a new method for rapidly manufacturing production tools using particulate materials (metal, ceramic powders) bound with high strength, water soluble, inorganic binders. It is anticipated that the project will lead to the development of a method enabling the lead times for blow and rubber moulding tools to be reduced to 1 week and reduced to 2-4 weeks for plastic injection and die casting tools. (2) reducing the impact on the environment by developing methods to efficiently break down the binder so that powder used to manufacture the tools can be partially or wholly recovered and recycled. (3) to demonstrate the technology developed under production conditions in a number of industries including blow moulding, rubber moulding, superplastic forming, plastic injection moulding and die casting. This will also include a demonstration of recycling tools by breaking down binders, recoating powders and producing new tools from the recoated powders. The basic process on which the new toolmaking method is based was originally developed by one of the partners for the manufacture of environmentally friendly (and recyclable) sand moulds/cores for the foundry industry. It was only recently realised that the process could potentially be developed into a method for the manufacture of production tools (e.g. blow forming tools, plastic injection moulding tools). Patent protection for the basic process has already been sought. Estimated Timescale (After Completion Of RTD) For Process Development and Time To Market. It is estimated that, following completion of the project, the time required to further process development and time to market will be as follows: (a) 8-10 months for blow and rubber moulding tools (b) 12-15 months for superplastic, plastic injection moulding and die casting tools Relationship Of The Proposed Project With The Brite Euram 111 Workprogramme The project objectives correspond to key objectives outlined in Area 1 of the Brite-Euram III Workprogramme - specifically the sections entitled 1.1.7M. (Section 1.1.) and 1.2.2M. (Section 1.2.).

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