New Laser-based, Solid Free Form Fabrication Technology Revolutionizes Die/Mold Building and Restoration 2001-01-0974
This presentation will review the Direct Metal Deposition (DMD™) process, highlighting benefits that DMD can bring to the automotive industry -- with specific focus on the advantages it can provide to the manufacture and restoration of injection molds and dies.
DMD, an additive laser-based fabrication process, is an enabling technology for tool builders looking to build longer lasting, less expensive, or highly efficient dies and molds. In the past, it has been impossible to incorporate advantages of multiple materials in mold designs. DMD changes this.
Using DMD, it is now possible to construct dies with the toughness of P20 tool steel at their cores and the wear and corrosion resistance of H13 at their outer skin. This improves toughness to minimize cracking, while maintaining a surface that has the mechanical and thermal properties to withstand the harsh die casting environment.
Injection molds can be built with low carbon steel as their base and P20 at their mold surface. The shell-like structure results in superior strength to soft tooling, while the low carbon steel base offers the advantages of being less expensive, easier and faster to machine, and having better thermal conductivity than harder tool steels.
With DMD, plastic injection molds can utilize embedded copper-alloy inserts as heat sinks, increasing productivity by 20-30%. Faster extraction of heat allows parts to set-up faster and dramatically improves cycle times. Temperature distributions are simultaneously improved, leading to parts with less warpage and better dimensional tolerancing.
The DMD process also offers the ability to deposit handbook grade, fully dense tool steels onto existing molds and dies. This allows obsolete (caused by model year changes) or damaged dies and molds to be reconfigured to new product designs, thereby salvaging obsolete investments and putting the tools back into active service. The cost savings and reduction in lead times that DMD can offer the marketplace is considerable. In fact, by depositing tool steel onto existing surfaces, the cost and time associated with procuring a new tool are completely eliminated.