This innovation is a complete system that incorporates new-alloyed materials, laser based production techniques and specially developed software for the manufacture of cost effective and high quality inserts and complete cavities. These could be applied in the field of mould production, particularly in plastic injection moulding and the non-ferrous metal pressure die-casting. More specifically, the system consists of; different compositions of hard metal sinterable powders, a selective laser-sintering machine, and a computer aided design (CAD) software for specifying the mould geometry. The new system offers its users additional benefits from the newly advanced features developed. Thereby, the use of nanophase metal powders enhances the mechanical properties of the tooling produced. In addition, the experimentation with various mechanical alloying techniques for processing highly reactive, laser-sinterable powders resulted in functional parts with excellent performance and resistance. These excellent pre-compacted metal powders are then deposited in very thin (0.1mm) layers with the maximum obtainable density possible. The use of the laser system is a direct result of an improved and cost-effective binding methodology, particularly for large moulds. These developments have been incorporated into an alpha machine, as an add-on module to existing laser-cutting machines, providing economical and commercial advantages. The inexpensive software (using CAD facilities) has been introduced into the system for a powerful mould design since it rapidly translates parts files into mould cavities along files with the required moulding functionality. Leading research institutes and companies have joined their competencies to accomplish the realisation of this breakthrough system. With the new system, the sintering process becomes a one-step process without the need for post sintering and with the minimal finishing required for cavities, which may be directly utilised for producing moulding tools. Compared to current technology, the adoption of this system results in advanced mechanical performance and dimensional control of the metal tools.
Development of mechanically alloyed powders and laser processing machine for the fabrication of high performance production metal tools
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