3D-printed tools open new possibilities for the foundry industry

Publicerad 2014-09-29

A project called ADDING will test 3D printing of pressure die-casting tools, something which is expected to result in shorter lead times and greater freedom in design. "If we are able to make the leap to 3D printing of tools, it will mean a competitive head start for the Swedish pressure die-casting industry," says Martin Risberg, department manager at Swerea SWECAST.

With partial funding from VINNOVA, Swerea SWECAST, in collaboration with university and industry partners, will investigate the possibility of using 3D-printing technology to manufacture die-casting tools.

"Our ambition is to create tools for pressure die-cast components and to place Sweden on the world map when it comes to the development of additive manufacturing. We are very excited to begin working with these issues," explains Martin Risberg, who manages the department of product and production development at Swerea SWECAST.

In this additive manufacturing process the wear-resistant material, Vibenite® 60, which was developed by project partner VBN Components AB, is used. In additive manufacturing, as the name suggests, the material is added layer-by-layer. This enables rapid and efficient manufacturing, which shortens lead times. The process allows greater freedom in tool design; for example, cooling and heating channels can be designed to follow a component's contours, so-called conformal cooling. This, in turn, enables better heat transfer. Another advantage is that the quality of the finished product may be expected to be more consistent.

Pre-requisites for using the technique will be analyzed in the initial phase of the project before proceeding with simulation and prototyping of test tools. If, and when, 3D-printed tooling reaches industrial-scale application, it is conceivable that, initially, the tools will be used for pressure die-casting of aluminium components for the vehicle industry.

In addition to Swerea SWECAST, project participants include Mid Sweden University in Östersund, Jönköping University, Ankarsrum Die Casting AB and VBN Components AB. The project is being carried out within the framework for the strategic innovation area Metallic Materials.

For further information, please contact:

Martin Risberg

Telephone: +46 036-30 12 62

E-mail: martin.risberg@swerea.se