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4-cavity mould with conformal cooling
4-cavity mould with conformal cooling

First 3D-printed mould with conformal cooling available

9 January 2018

3D printing is becoming increasingly popular. The plastic industry is no exception. Rompa now has a partially 3D-printed mould with conformal cooling. Using this relatively new cooling technology, the product cools down faster and in a more constant manner, which allows it to retain its shape even better afterwards. Project manager Lion van Iersel explains how this technology works.

Lion first explains traditional cooling methods. “With injection moulding, molten plastic with a temperature of circa 250 degrees Celsius is injected into the mould. Cooling channels in the mould then cool down the plastic as fast as possible. Normally, these channels are drilled into the steel mould. That limits your options, because you can only drill straight channels. As a result, the cooling channels are not all equally close to the sides of the mould, which causes the product to cool down slower or faster in some places than in others. This can result in minor differences or deformations.”

Mould with conformal cooling: blue tubes
Mould with conformal cooling: blue tubes

The difference with 3D printing
Lion believes 3D printing offers a solution. “With 3D printing, the mould is constructed one layer at a time. This not only allows you to include straight cooling channels, but also curved or spiral-shaped ones. The cooling channels are all equally close to the product.” The result: a plastic product in top shape. It also saves time, Lion says. “In this case, the cooling process is ten to fifteen percent faster.” The new mould also presents new challenges to Rompa: “The channels are very narrow, so it is important to install good filters to prevent them from clogging up.”   

 

The finished product
The finished product
The finished product
The finished product