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Additive manufacturing adding new potential for conformal cooling

By: Bill Bregar

July 3, 2014

ERIE, PA. — Conformal cooling — molds with water lines that curve to direct cooling water to targeted areas of the tool — is getting a facelift thanks to additive manufacturing, according to Lou Young, director of new business development for Linear Mold and Engineering Inc.

The service provider in Livonia, Mich., uses direct metal laser sintering to make conformal inserts for molds, to channel cooling water to thick areas and other “hot spots,” which can be harder to cool. Building inserts up, layer by layer, allows Linear Mold and Engineering to make water channels that would be impossible with traditional drilling, he said.

Cooling a molded part can account for 40 percent of the molding cycle time. Conformal cooling can reduce cooling to just 10 percent of the cycle, Young said at Penn State Erie’s Innovation and Emerging Plastics Technologies Conference, held June 18-19. The key, he added, is keeping uniform temperatures throughout the part.

Selective use of conformal cooling can reduce cycle time, and cut scrap and warped parts, Young said.

“Conformal cooling has been awhile for awhile, but it’s back in the limelight now with additive manufacturing,” he said.