Traditional injection molding tools with standard cooling channels often lead to long cycle times, especially for high-volume components. This can significantly impact production efficiency and increase costs. 

Selective Laser Melting (SLM), a form of additive manufacturing, offers a revolutionary approach – conformal cooling. ABB OY, Drives and Controls, successfully implemented this technology to optimize a high-volume cabling grommet made from thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). 

Increased Cooling Efficiency Thanks to SLM Design Optimization 

The study undertook the redesign of six different cooling channel configurations for the Nikon SLM® technology, each optimized to improve the cooling process. 

Six optimized configurations designed with SLM technology 

Simulations of water flow and thermal conductivity were performed, revealing significant differences in cooling efficiency among the components. This aids in selecting the most optimal cooling channel configuration for the production process. 

Design Flexibility 

SLM allows for the creation of complex, conformal cooling channels that perfectly follow the contours of the part. This ensures optimal heat transfer and faster cooling. 

Simulation and Optimization 

The design process can be supported by simulations to predict water flow and thermal conductivity, allowing for fine-tuning of channel shapes and sizes for maximum efficiency. 

Material Choice 

SLM enables the use of tool steel for the inserts, ensuring the required durability and strength for high-volume production. 

Impressive Performance and Results 

To test productivity, the components were heated to 70°C and then cooled down to 20°C, simulating the TPE cooling process in injection molding. The cooling process was monitored using infrared scanning, allowing for a comparison of cooling efficiency among the configurations. 

Simulate the cooling process of the configurations 

The results indicated that the best cooling times were under 10 seconds, particularly with channels having small cross-sections, which create fast and turbulent flows, enhancing the cooling effectiveness. 

Reduced Cycle Times 

The original injection molding tool had a cycle time of around 60 seconds, with 30 seconds dedicated solely to TPE cooling. By redesigning the cooling insert with conformal channels using SLM, ABB achieved a remarkable 80% reduction in TPE cooling time, down to just 6 seconds. This translates to a staggering 75% reduction in the overall cycle time, bringing it down to a mere 14.7 seconds. 

Improved Efficiency and Production Cost Savings 

Faster cycle times directly translate to increased production output and significant cost savings. 

Enhanced Product Quality 

Conformal cooling channels provide a more uniform cooling effect across the entire part, minimizing the risk of warping and defects. 

The tooling inserts were built on a Nikon SLM®125 machine in tool steel 1.2709 

Conformal cooling with SLM technology offers a game-changing solution for the tooling industry. This case study by ABB demonstrates significant reductions in cycle times, leading to increased production efficiency, cost savings, and improved product quality. 

Vinnotek: Your Trusted Partner for 3D Printing Design and Simulation Solutions For Molding Manufacturing Industry 

Are you struggling with long production cycle times due to inefficient cooling systems in traditional injection molding tools? This issue can directly impact production efficiency, increase costs, and reduce productivity. 

Vinnotek is proud to be an official supplier of Nikon SLM Solutions' SLM 125 metal 3D printer, along with our specialized 3D printing design and simulation services, offering a breakthrough solution for the tooling industry. 

✔ Reduced production cycle times: Achieve faster production and higher throughput, saving you valuable time and money. 

✔ Enhanced product quality: Minimize warping and defects, ensuring consistently high-quality products. 

✔ Complex geometries and structures: Create intricate designs and structures that are impossible to achieve with traditional manufacturing methods. 

✔ Rapid design iteration: Experiment with new design ideas quickly and efficiently, optimizing your products for success. 

With a combination of creativity and professionalism, we are committed to working with your business to optimize designs, reduce production costs, and improve work efficiency. 

Contact Vinnotek today to experience innovation and advancement in your industry! 


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