Creating an effective mold for injection molding production is critical for ensuring return on investment, ideal production times, and reducing part defects. Mold flow analysis provides critical information about mold design characteristics before making investments in expensive physical tooling.

During the mold design phase, mold flow analysis looks at the various properties of a resin’s cooling and flow characteristics to predict the production efficiency of the mold. Using mold flow analysis allows designers to create cooling lines which closely follow the geometry of the mold to improve flow coverage and cooling—this is known as conformal cooling. The creation of these cooling channels is possible using 3D metal printing in mold designs.

Why Mold Flow Analysis is the Most Critical Step

Mold flow analysis provides designers with necessary feedback on their design to ensure proper density of the plastic throughout the various parts of the component. Predicting how the resin will flow and cool within the mold before actual mold fabrication allows for fast adjustments to the design as opposed to retooling the physical mold later on. Given its capacity to predict proper coverage and cooling efficiency within a mold before spending time and money on mold fabrication, mold flow analysis is perhaps the most critical step in mold design.

There are four steps to the mold flow analysis process, including:

  1. Fill/pack analysis provides feedback regarding the resin’s behavior within the mold as related to filling process parameters.
  2. Cooling analysis helps maximize the efficiency of the proposed cooling layout within the mold’s design.
  3. Warp analysis allows designers to ensure that their mold will produce a component that fits within the specified tolerances.
  4. Coupled structure analysis uses finite element analysis (FEA) to predict the wear-life and performance of the part after installation.

Mold flow analysis is necessary if:

  • The designed mold includes complex geometry
  • There is a demand for tight component tolerances
  • The project’s scope warrants it
  • Production requires unusual or specialized materials

Conformal Cooling for Your 3D Metal Prints

Maintaining uniform surface temperatures and cooling rates throughout the production process can be challenging in injection molding. Standard or conventional cooling utilizes baffles, bubblers, heat pipes, laminated blocks, and complex drilling setups within the mold in order to control cooling and produce uniform cooling rates with varying degrees of success.

Conformal cooling uses 3D metal printing to add cooling channels that naturally conform to the contours of the part. These cooling channels maintain uniform cooling throughout the mold.  Conformal cooling provides a number of production benefits, including:

  • Uniform cooling rates improve mold coverage, closer adherence to specified tolerances, and quality assurance.
  • Reduced cooling rates lead to reduced production cycle times.
  • Cooling predictability using conformal cooling allows for improved mold design when integrated with mold flow analysis.
  • Complex mold design capacity results from improved cooling control.

PTR’s Precision Advantage

Mold flow analysis integrated with conformal cooling allows designers to create more efficient mold designs with greater control over cooling capacity and greater part integrity throughout.

PTR Tool and Plastics incorporates mold flow analysis and conformal cooling with 3D metal printing to create precision molds for production processes that utilize injection molding. Our clients see significant improvements over molds produced by our competitors, such as:

  • Shorter production cycle times
  • Less heat build-up in center of the product
  • Less downtime for assembly
  • Bottom-line cost reduction
  • Reduced potential for flashes or distortions
  • Better quality output and improved quality assurance

These improvements are a result of our expertise and capacity to analyze and fine tune our mold designs before their creation. Contact us to learn more about the conformal cooling and mold flow analysis solutions PTR can provide for your organization or request a quote from one of our experts.