The Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC) and Daimler have collaborated to explore wire-fed Directed Energy Deposition (DED) for large injection mold tooling. Their project demonstrates the potential of wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) to reduce lead times in mold production. Utilizing a Gefertec machine, OMIC produced a complete core and cavity set for a large mold, including internal conformal cooling channels, in just three days—a process that typically takes several weeks.
The traditional method for injection mold tooling often involves laser powder bed fusion to create smaller mold inserts. Daimler, a truck manufacturer with a plant in Portland, sought AM solutions for entire molds to accelerate production. The DED process not only reduced lead times but also enabled the inclusion of non-linear cooling channels, closely following the mold surface.
The Gefertec WAAM machine at OMIC played a pivotal role, allowing the core and cavity to be 3D printed in two days, requiring only an additional day for finish machining. This method significantly streamlines the production of new and emergent injection molding tools, providing a responsive solution for Daimler’s tooling needs.
OMIC, funded largely by the state of Oregon, fosters public-private R&D and process development partnerships in machining and additive manufacturing. It recently opened the Additive Innovation Center, housing diverse AM capabilities, including DED, laser powder bed fusion, and binder jetting technologies.
The collaboration between OMIC and Daimler demonstrates the evolving landscape of moldmaking, where additive manufacturing plays a crucial role in efficiency and innovation. Exploring WAAM’s capability for multi-material printing and alternative cooling techniques could further enhance moldmaking processes, potentially leading to hybrid tools with varied material properties and innovative cooling solutions without traditional channels.
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