CEO Tony Paget said that within one year, Garrtech will install a laser cladding machine at its plant in Stoney Creek, Ontario.
“We're now designing and manufacturing molds for production testing,” he said in a presentation during the SPE Blow Molding Conference in Chicago.
Most blow molds are made of aluminum, a softer metal than steel, because they do not have to withstand the high pressures of injection molds. But some areas of the mold, such as pinch points that seal when the mold closes, can wear from repeated closing of the mold.
Beryllium copper inserts are placed in the aluminum mold. Paget said the production of the material has environmental issues, however. It also can create a thermal break between the insert and mold face, he said.
Laser cladding is an additive process that builds up hardened material in strategic points directly on the mold — making a solid, unified surface.
“It has the ability to melt metallic-like materials into a substrate,” Paget said.
Garrtech did research into laser-etched molds, building two test molds that ran with no wear. He said the substrate is very hard and tough to machine, but the company is able to machine it.