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Selective Laser Melting for improving quality characteristics of a prism shaped topology injection mould tool insert for the automotive industry

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Article number989382
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>18/05/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part C: Journal of Mechanical Engineering Science
Number of pages12
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date18/05/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Manufacturing process constraints and design complexities are the main challenges that face the aftermarket automotive industry. For that reason, recently, selective laser melting (SLM) is being recognised as a viable approach in the fabrication of injection moulding tool inserts. Due to its versatility, SLM technology is capable of producing freeform designs. For the first reported time, in this study SLM is recognized for its novel application in overcoming fabrication complexities for prism shaped topology of a vehicle headlamp’s reflector injection moulding tool insert. Henceforth, performance measures of the SLM-fabricated injection mould tool insert is assessed in comparison to a CNC-milled counterpart to improve quality characteristics. Tests executed and detailed in this paper are divided into two stages; the first stage assesses both fabricated tool inserts in terms of manufacturability; the second stage assesses the functionality of the end-products by measuring the surface roughness, dimensional accuracy and light reflectivity from the vehicle reflectors. The results obtained show that employing SLM technology can offer an effective and efficient alternative to subtractive manufacturing, successfully producing tool inserts with complex surface topology. Significant benefits in terms of surface roughness, dimensional accuracy and product functionality were achieved through the use of SLM technology. it was concluded that the SLM-fabricated inserts products proved to have relatively lower values of surface roughness in comparison to their CNC counterparts.