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Increased EU strength in the global plastics market

An EU-funded initiative promises to enhance European competitiveness in a industries that use plastic components. These span the range from household consumer goods to the automotive and aerospace industries.
Increased EU strength in the global plastics market
Moulds are used to form materials into specific shapes. Perhaps the simplest example is the baking of a cake. One pours the cake batter into a mould and then 'dries' it in the oven, removing the finished cake from the mould in the end so that the mould can be reused.

Injection moulding of plastic structures is a process by which heated (and thus melted) plastic materials can be injected into a metallic mould and then dried in an industrial oven to produce plastic components for household and industrial use. Again, the dried product is removed and the mould is reused. Injection moulding represents an important market in the automotive, aerospace and capital goods industries.

However, available technologies for machining of heat-resistant metal moulds are incredibly time- and cost-intensive. In addition, more modern high-alloy metals with superior materials characteristics and with ecological and economic benefits are even more difficult to cut precisely using standard technologies.

The ‘Development of a hybrid machine tool concept for manufacturing of free-form surface moulds’ (Hymould) project was designed to develop a hybrid machine tool combining multiple technologies and thus capable of fast and high-quality precision mould production. The innovations resulting from the project should significantly decrease time-to-market of consumer goods.

Plastics, and in particular recyclable ones, have become ubiquitous in recent years. Combined with the fact that consumer needs and wants change rapidly, implementation of this concept for new mould machining should increase the competitive strength of small and medium-sized European enterprises that support global players in the injection moulding arena.

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