Heat dissipation plays critical role for longevity of polymer-based 3D-printed inserts for plastics injection moulding.
Bezerra, Gilberto S.N.
Hopkins, Michael Jnr.
Lyons, John G.
Devine, Declan M.
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Injection moulding is a polymer processing method of choice for making plastic parts on industrial scale, but its traditional mould is made from tooling steel with time-consuming and costly production. Additive manufacturing technologies arise as an alternative for creating mould inserts at lower costs and shorter lead times. In this context, this study describes a series of stereolithography (SLA)-printed injection mould inserts fabricated from two photopolymer resins, utilised to mould standard tensile specimens of a commercial-grade polypropylene, aiming to evaluate effects on the polymer’s thermal and mechanical properties. Our results demonstrated that the glass fibre-filled resin inserts withstood more moulding cycles before failure, had superior mechanical properties, higher Tg and greater thermal conductivity. Calorimetric data revealed that PP thermal properties and degree of crystallinity were little affected, while mechanical testing suggests a significant effect in the elongation at break. Thus, these findings highlight the importance of adequate heat extraction during injection moulding and endorse further application of SLA mould inserts for the manufacturing of injection-moulded plastic parts in the case of prototypes or small batches, provided suitable cooling is made available, contributing to the feasibility and affordability of employing this approach for an industrial setting.
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