Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Digital Mould Manufacturing

The technical achievements of this successful project are especially interesting for- injection mould makers, toolmakers, plastics processing/injection molding companies and plastic parts processing companies.

The aim of the project was to develop a new production technology for manufacturing steel-based injection moulds.

The new technology is based on a rapid prototyping technique called selective laser sintering. With the aid of this technique it is now possible to manufacture a steel-based mould directly from a CADfile.
With this approach the lead-time of moulds and, in turn, the time to market of the moulded products has been drastically reduced.
A further advantage is the minimization of restrictions in the product design, making it possible to develop more complex shapes in moulds.
During the project special steel-based sinter alloys were developed to meet the requirements of the laser sintering process and the tough specifications of the tooling industry.
Several fields of technology were involved in this project, such as, laser technology, powder metallurgy, control software, injection moulding technology, surface treatment and machining technology.

Some of the features of the mould parts created with these new steel-based sinter alloys:

-Bending strength >350 Mpa after infiltration with a hard solder
-Very high wear resistance
-Surface quality before infiltration 8 - 1 0 Ra
-Accuracy measured on a 5Ox5O[mm] part: ± 0.05 [mm].

Machining tests (milling, grinding and sparking) with the parts showed very good results.
The partners in the project expect the application of the laser-sintered parts to be successful for:

rubber vulcanizing moulds
master models for casting moulds
bending stamps
plastic injection moulds

and of course, for a lot of other purposes which have not yet been considered.

Reported by

MARECO Gereedschapsmakerij BV
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