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Tool Life Performance of Injection Mould Tooling Fabricated by Selective Laser Melting for High-Volume Production

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
Article number3910
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>26/11/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Materials
Issue number23
Volume12
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Rapid Tooling processes are developing and proving to be a reliable method to compete with subtractive techniques for tool making. This paper investigates large volume production of components produced from Selective Laser Melting (SLM) fabricated injection moulding tool inserts. To date, other researchers have focused primarily on investigating the use of additive manufacturing technology for injection moulding for low-volume component production rather than high volume production. In this study, SLM technology has been used to fabricate four Stainless Steel 316L tool inserts of a similar geometry for an after-market automotive spare part. The SLM tool inserts have been evaluated to analyse the maximum number of successful injections and quality of performance. Microstructure inspection and chemical composition analysis have been investigated. Performance tests were conducted for the four tool inserts before and after injection moulding in the context of hardness testing and dimensional accuracy. For the first reported time, 150,000 injected products were successfully produced from the four SLM tool inserts. Tool inserts performance was monitored under actual operating conditions considering high-level demands. In the scope of this research, SLM proved to be a dependable manufacturing technique for most part geometries and an effective alternative to subtractive manufacturing for high-volume injection moulding tools for the aftermarket automotive sector.