Canadian Plastics

New technologies speed mold cooling

One mold cooling technology that can cut plastic injection molding cooling time by as much as 30 percent is being introduced to North America through an alliance of Bayer Corporation and Innova Engine...

September 1, 2000   Canadian Plastics



One mold cooling technology that can cut plastic injection molding cooling time by as much as 30 percent is being introduced to North America through an alliance of Bayer Corporation and Innova Engineering GmbH. Called Contura, this technology features mold cooling channels that follow the part shape to allow more uniform and faster heat transfer. In effect, Contura turns a standard mold into a heat exchanger.

Contura is a patented technology that is available through license. The license fee depends on the clamp force of the machine that will run the mold. Innova and Bayer will design the mold cooling channels and the shop building the mold will make it according to Innova/Bayer specifications.

The moldmaker will make slices of the mold core and machine in the cooling channels. These slices will be shipped to Innova’s onding shop in Pittsburg to be vacuum brazed together, then returned to the moldmaker for finishing. Turnaround time for shipping and bonding is expected to be about a week.

Contura molds will be, as a rule of thumb, about 10 to 20 percent more expensive than conventional tools. The technology is applicable to virtually any type of mold, from small parts to large door and instrument panels.

Innova is an engineering firm based in Menden, Germany, that started out in vacuum brazing for aircraft parts. In the early 1990s, Innova applied this technology to the manufacture of injection molds. There are currently more that 3,000 Contura tools in operation, mainly in Europe. About 80% of them are for automotive parts, but the technology also has relevance to a wide spectrum of markets such as appliance, telecommunications, consumer electronics, medical and power tools.

Bayer’s contribution to the alliance is the company’s expertise in engineering thermoplastics and capabilities in thermal imaging, mold and part design and performance testing.

Customers can visit Bayer’s Technical Center in Pittsburgh to see a Contura technology demonstration and evaluate how the technology can be applied to their tools and operations.

D-M-E Company is marketing a rapid-cooling process first developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and now owned by Extrude Hone, a company based in Irwin, PA. The process, called MoldFusion 3D Metal Printing, uses special machines at Extrude Hone’s facility to build powdered-metal mold inserts. The inserts include special cooling lines that quickly remove heat during molding. Extrude Hone says the inserts can reduce cycle time by 30 to 50 percent. The insert technology costs approximately $250 to $300 per mold cubic inch, according to a company spokesman.

Precision Optical Manufacturing, based in Plymouth, MI, is offering an advanced mold cooling technology, called conformal cooling. The process uses direct metal deposition to fabricate conformal cooling channels and imbed high conductivity heat sinks integral to the die cavity. The company says the technology can reduce cycle times by 50 percent or more.


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