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Injection mold thermal management

I am familiar with a number of processes that produce conformal cooling. We had a very nice lab for the 3D printing that also produced tooling cores & cavities with Stainless Steel Powder, then Sintered and Infused with Bronze. This was the process originally developed at M.I.T. Having conformal cooling is no doubt a great benefit for a cooling system, but as with many technologies there are some weaknesses that must be dealt with. For new molds headed for production, part design revisions are a fact of life, so when committed to major components made with the conformal cooling process it presents a higher degree of risk. I have seen the laminate process performed on a number of injection molds in US and also in China, once a part/mold design is locked in for the long term and additional injection molds are required for either capacity and/or end of life replacement, conformal inserts would be a good option.

Thermal management approach does require time, effort and a good understanding of thermodynamics that is well beyond most tooling engineers. As with mold flow analysis, the new thermal approaches will take time to learn. The injection mold is basically a heat exchanger. However, it is a unique and specialized heat machine that requires attention if optimum performance is to be reached. I have seen a lot of injection molds done over the past three decades, from small medical to automotive body components. The approach is the same but different, that is applying engineering over design. I am always surprised at the low level of engineering done in regards to injection molds, even down to basics like structural strength (gee my tool is flashing). Transient heat flow, a CFD method, is becoming reliable. There are learnings from this technique and others that will go a long way to accomplishing solid thermal management.

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