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Delcam’s PowerSHAPE CAD used for conformal cooling project

The use of conformal cooling reduced cycle times by up to 32%

Delcam’s PowerSHAPE CAD software played a key part in the recent Hipermoulding project to develop more efficient thermal management in injection moulds through the use of conformal cooling.  This project, which was part-funded by the European Commission, proved its worth by showing an impressive reduction in cycle times on four sample parts.

Conformal cooling involves the production of injection moulding tools or, in most cases, inserts where the cooling channels can be optimised to give the most efficient cooling possible and so allow reductions in cycle times.  This is often impossible using conventional means due to the complex shapes of many moulded parts and the fact that normal cooling channels can only be drilled in straight lines.

By using layer based manufacturing techniques whereby tools are built up in thin layers of metal powder selectively melted by laser, it is possible to make tools with cooling channels of any geometry.  Specialised software has been developed during the project to enable rapid and accurate design of the cooling channels that can be exported into PowerSHAPE for incorporation into the insert design.

To demonstrate the success of the technique, four production tools were remade as "Hipermoulds” and comparisons made between the new version and the conventional mould.  Cycle time reductions of between 16% and 32% were achieved.  This was coupled with larger processing windows and better stability in the final products.  These advantages were achieved without the process having to be set up differently from a conventional mould.

Further information on the project can be obtained from the web site www.hipermoulding.com.