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Production of plastic injection moulding tools using selective laser sintering and high speed machining

By Ismet Priana Ilyas

Abstract

Global manufacturing trend and competition challenge every industry to seek new manufacturing methods to improve their business processes and speed up the product development cycle [Conolly, 2004a and Knights, 2001]. Among the candidates, layer manufacturing (LM) technologies appear to be a potential solution [Plam, 2002, and Grimm, 2004]. Recent LM technologies have led to a demanding application for developing production tools to manufacture parts, known as rapid tooling (RT). Selective laser sintering (SLS) is one of the leading LM systems available today in RT to manufacture injection mould (core/cavity) inserts [Kruth, 1998, Chua, 1999, Dormal, 1999, and Grenda, 2005]. However, the current capabilities of the SLS in producing metal parts have not yet fulfil the requirements of the injection mould inserts, especially in dimensional accuracy and surface finish quality [Francis, 2002 and Dalgamo, 2001 a]. The aim of this research is to use indirect SLS and high speed machining (HSM) in developing production-quality plastic injection moulding (core/cavity) inserts. The idea is that the indirect SLS process is utilised to build a near-net-shape inserts, while HSM is then utilised to finish the inserts to production specifications. Benchmark studies have been carried out to characterise the capabilities of both SLS and HSM with reference to the typical requirements of injection mould inserts. Utilising the study results, new developments of the mould inserts have been implemented on three major industrial case studies. Their performances have been evaluated and measured by comparing them with its respective original inserts. Furthermore, a set of design rules has been derived from best practices of the case studies, and have been validated by developing a new design for each case studies inserts. The results have demonstrated that the indirect SLS process has a capability III manufacturing a near-net shape of the insert which requires further related finishing to achieve final production specifications. The insert performances in some case studies have indicated significant improvements in process productivity and energy consumption as well as economic benefits to using the inserts. Regarding the significant considerations in realising the design, a recommendation on further strategic design rules and manufacturing process are highlighted so that the development of the insert using the selected approach can be more effective and efficient. Moreover, a utilisation of computer analysis software and further durability trial is also highlighted in order to predict and evaluate the optimum overall performance

Publisher: University of Leeds
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:4048

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