The University of Rostock and Stenzel MIM Technik GmbH have joined forces to develop a 3D-printed metal injection mold (MIM). The basis is AIM3D‘s CEM technology on an ExAM 255 system, which combines high precision and manufacturing speeds.
As part of a project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the partners are striving to create a MIM tool using 3D printing and integrated, near-contour cooling. This involves helical cooling channels directly in the mold, which greatly reduce cycle time by cooling close to the contour even during the cycle. CAD technology enables the complex geometry of the cooling channels. Long-term studies show a reduction in cycle time of around 20%.
Compared to conventional methods, which take up to eight weeks, the 3D process could reduce manufacturing time to just five days.
An optimized 3D model of the mold has already been created and transferred to the ExAM 255 CEM system. The “green part” is now printed before being sintered in several steps to achieve the final material properties.
The ExAM 255 multi-material 3D printer allows the use of different materials and processes, achieves high tensile strengths and enables cost savings of up to a factor of 10. The focus is now on injection molding trials to validate the new process.