The purpose of this study is to compare the overall performance of the injection moulding process by using metallic inserts produced by both conventional technologies and selective laser melting (SLM).
A systematic methodology is proposed for prior evaluation of the effectiveness of conformal cooling channels to reduce cycle time and/or to reduce the scrap rate.
The mould was reengineered considering the SLM process and manufactured. Injection trials were carried out to validate expectations provided by injection simulations, which resulted on good quality parts and a significant decrease on cooling time, and, consequently, on the overall cycle time. The minimisation of scrap provided energy savings and time-to-market reduction.
The initial costs for AM tools still pose some doubts on decision-makers. The challenge of this study is to implement the methodology on a small-scale production and still ensure that benefits are achieved.
The case study selected for this research work is based on a parking sensor housing, which is a plastic part assembled on the vehicle’s front and rear bumpers, therefore, with aesthetics concerns. The part produced with the conventional mould exhibits surface defects that, to be minimised (not eliminated), require a longer packing time to diminish the sink marks.
The economic impact of the use of SLM is relevant despite the low batch size for the case study presented. Energy savings are achieved due to scrap reduction and shorter cycle time.
The systematic methodology proposed for prior evaluation of the advantages of conformal cooling is possible to be applied both on small scale and high production series.
Vasco, J., Barreiros, F.M., Nabais, A. and Reis, N. (2019), "Additive manufacturing applied to injection moulding: technical and economic impact", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 25 No. 7, pp. 1241-1249. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-07-2018-0179
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