Tradition meets innovation – mould change system with 3D-printed inserts
It is almost 15 years ago that standard mould component manufacturer HASCO filed a patent application for a completely new mould change system. The ever-increasing popularity of this system amongst customers is due not least to its dependable quality. Since the tolerance limits are precisely adhered to, the parts are completely interchangeable without any problems, even 15 years later. In addition, with the many possibilities that the system opens up, it contributes to making work processes considerably simpler and more flexible. With the continually growing cost and time pressure in mould building comes the necessity to find alternative and short-term production options. This is where HASCO's K3500/... comes into play. It’s modular design and compatibility with the company's standard programme mean that customers can produce the required inserts rapidly and inexpensively. The general mould unit remains the same and does not even need to be removed from the injection moulding machine. Only the two mould inserts and the ejector package are aligned to the new contour and can be exchanged in a matter of minutes. To offer customers maximum flexibility, the K3500/... mould change system is available for three mould sizes (156 x 196 mm, 246 x 296 mm, 296 x 396 mm) and in two material grades. HASCO keeps all the required parts in stock and thus ensures their immediate availability. The high level of prefabrication and the pre-installed closed circuit cooling with defined connections and seal areas leave the mould builder free to concentrate on the details.
Ever-shorter time-to-market cycles and an increasing number of variants, plus the associated reduction in production quantities, calls for prototypes that can be produced both rapidly and inexpensively. State-of-the-art 3D printing is already in widespread use for single parts. HASCO's latest innovation is now a combination of the HASCO quick-change mould K3500/… and a mould insert produced by 3D printing. 3D printing with the appropriate printing materials (e.g. so-called digital ABS grades) makes it possible to produce mould inserts for small production quantities. In line with the HASCO motto of "Enabling with System", the HASCO quick-change mould K3500/... was combined with a 3D printed mould insert for this application. The quick-change mould was adapted for the use of a HASCO slide system, again saving time and effort, while the ejector system and mould insert size were adopted from the standard range. The modular HASCO quick-change system K3500/…proved to be ideal for the mould unit. First of all, the development team at HASCO's Mould Base Division discussed initial development approaches with the 3D printing experts at Stratasys GmbH. Following this, the corresponding mould was developed and designed at HASCO and produced in cooperation with the Prototyping & Services Department. The parts of the cavity that shape the polymer, such as the inserts and slides, were printed by Stratasys in two plastic digital grades of ABS 5161 and 5131 in just six hours, using a Conax 500 system. The optimisation and finishing of the printed mould inserts and the sampling of the mould were conducted by the mould-making and prototype specialists at canto Ing. GmbH in Lüdenscheid, who have been using 3D printing technology for many years. It proved possible to produce and test the first prototypes after just four days – in this case to mould sealing screws. Through the consistent use of tried-and-tested standardised parts coupled with state-of-the-art 3D printing technology, it proved possible to implement an innovative, rapid-technology application. This shows that the injection moulding of prototypes and very small series in quick-change moulds with 3D printed cavities, using the original material, constitutes a rapid and low-cost addition to conventional methods. HASCO is breaking new ground here and opening up new options for its customers to work rapidly and flexibly.
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