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Super-moulds: advanced surface treatments for superior plastic injection moulds

In plastic injection moulding, demoulding is complicated by sticking and high friction between the plastic and the moulds. The aim of the project is to tailor coatings and surface roughness towards superior slip properties to increase productivity by up to 50 % and to double the service lifetime.

This project combines two nationally funded projects under the umbrella of the EUREKA program: A. the CTI project OPTIMOULD funded by Switzerland and performed by iRAP, AC and Dupont. Summary: The fabrication of injection moulds of complex geometries by EDM and relatively "rough" texturing for aesthetic effects is a longstanding competence of AgieCharmilles. However (sub)micrometer texturing of the mould surfaces for reducing the plastic sticking is a recently discovered application with potentially new market segments. The innovation of this CTI project is to demonstrate the potential of the digital surface texturing technology (employing EDM and/or laser) to increase the productivity of plastic processing companies. This will be achieved by demonstrating that surface textures allow for reducing the cycle time by maintaining the plastic part quality. In the frame of this project, a test installation will be realized that allows for testing diverse part geometries. Furthermore, the (nano)mechanical, chemical and tribological effects of the texturing process will be studied along with the impact of this surface treatment on the metal/polymer interaction. The injection tests will be performed applying Dupont material with the perspective of a combined commercialisation of polymer pellets with the adequate surface texture. The total budget is 373,792 €, of which 50% is the cash & in kind contribution of the involved companies and 50% is funded by CTI to the research institution. B. The project SUPER-MOULDS funded by the IFD program in Denmark is carried out in collaboration between the ten partners mentioned in this application. Summary: The SUPER-MOULDS project aims at identifying the optimal combination of surface texturing, coatings and plastic material for diverse part geometries. Surface texturing will be based on polishing, blasting techniques, electrical discharge machining (EDM) and laser surface texturing (LST). The coatings will be prepared with different surface chemistries and/or morphologies by industrial-scale physical vapour deposition (PVD) in combination with ion implantation. In the SUPER-MOULDS project, a quantitative mapping of surface treatments and mould geometries for various plastic types will be performed. The total budget is 3,001,392 € with a Danish share of 2,071,733 € and a Swiss share of 929,659 €. A&B Complementarities and synergies of the two projects: The CTI project that officially started on 15 June 2016 is conducted with a sole Swiss consortium. The three partners, iRAP, AC and Dupont, collaborate with two external Swiss end-users that both supply plastic parts (gears and protections for electrical bobines) for the automotive industry and apply material from Dupont. Both end-users have defined concrete moulding problems whereby three specific part geometries have been identified. In this project, a test installation allowing for systematic demoulding tests for diverse part geometries has been developed and is expected to be in operation in January 2017. Mould inserts with the exact steel grade and thermal pretreatment that the Swiss end-users apply have been conceived and are currently under fabrication. The goal of this project is therefore to demonstrate that the productivity at these end-users can be increased when applying a surface functionalisation. A direct impact of the results of the CTI project is expected for the two end-users, since the tests are designed for their particular parameters and production conditions. However, the CTI project does not include the alternative of a combined effect of surface coating and texturing. The SUPER-MOULDS project has a significantly more comprehensive approach allowing for identifying ideal combinations of surface treatments and polymer materials for injection moulding. Furthermore, with the results from the SUPER-MOULDS project, it is expected that optimized combinations of texture, coatings and polymers can be commercialised. Direct impact of the CTI project on the SUPER-MOULDS project: Since the CTI project has started more than six months before the official start of the SUPER-MOULDS project, the Swiss consortium can provide a fully functional test installation that is versatile for testing different mould inserts and other polymer types (which can be studied in comparison to Dupont material). The already started CTI project allows AgieCharmilles to evaluate the feasibility of texturing complex geometries on 2D mould inserts by EDM and/or laser technology before transferring this knowledge to 3D mould geometries in the international SUPER-MOULDS project. Furthermore, the effect of EDM/laser texturing on surface properties will be studied separately before the Swiss members enter the SUPER-MOULDS consortium. Total share of project expenditure: Denmark: 2,071,733 € (61%) Switzerland: 1,303,451 € (39%).
Acronym: 
SUPER-MOULDS
Project ID: 
11 229
Start date: 
01-01-2017
Project Duration: 
48months
Project costs: 
3 370 000.00€
Technological Area: 
INDUSTRIAL MANUFACTURING, MATERIAL AND TRANSPORT
Market Area: 

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.