Metal printing for moulds at MCAM Plastics in Tielt
The injection moulding facility of Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials (MCAM) in Tielt (Belgium) has introduced a new technology in its tool shop to be able to print metal parts for moulds. A LUMEX 25 Hybrid Metal Printer of “Matsuura” and hardening oven were installed in a dedicated area of the tool shop. With this investment, the company wants to service its customers even faster and better.
The LUMEX 25 is unique by combining 2 different technologies: metal printing with metal powder by means of a laser on the one hand and sequentially integrated detailed milling on the other. In this process, the result is a fully finished part that can be used directly in a mould or can be post hardened in the available hardening oven. In many cases, this single process has already replaced six conventional mechanical processes and is therefore reducing programming and machine time and, of course, the related manpower.
There are other functional advantages to this process:
- The creation of integrated porous or low-density zones that are used as air ejection or air evacuation zones to avoid burn marks. In this way, mechanical push ejectors or airgaps become dispensable, resulting in lower costs for tool parts.
- Instead of having massive full steel structures, the non-functional areas are optimised by simple support structures like honeycomb. This results in faster and more cost-efficient printing, again reducing part production time and increasing material use efficiency.
- Optimised cooling is another major benefit. This is because 3D printing allows the cooling channels to come to places, which are impossible to reach with conventional methods. Uniform cooling has an immediate positive effect on the cooling time, warpage and dimensional stability of the injection-moulded parts.
MCAM now wants to produce small mould cavity inserts as 1 part (monoblock design) and have these installed in a standard mould housing for standard production series or for production of prototypes. By using the hybrid, metal 3D printing process, the company can produce optimised moulds and mould parts in a shorter time compared to using conventional techniques.
Want to know more about MCAM Plastics NV and their techniques? Take a look at their website.