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Use of Additive Manufacturing (AM) for Mold Inserts in Injection Molding

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Subjects in 3D Printing and ET Programs

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

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Paper Authors


Jorge Rodriguez P.E. Western Michigan University

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Faculty member in the Department of Engineering Design, Manufacturing, and Management Systems (EDMMS) at Western Michigan University's (WMU). Co-Director of the Center for Integrated Design (CID), and currently the college representative to the President’s University-wide Sustainability Committee at WMU. Received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering-Design from University of Wisconsin-Madison and received an MBA from Rutgers University. His B.S. degree was in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering at Monterrey Tech (ITESM-Monterrey Campus). Teaches courses in CAD/CAE, Mechanical Design, Finite Element Method and Optimization. His interest are in the area of product development, topology optimization, additive manufacturing, sustainable design, and biomechanics.

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Use of Additive Manufacturing for Molds in Injection Molding Additive manufacturing is the process of additively producing a 3D part through a layered process; it has also been previously referred to as rapid prototyping, rapid tooling, rapid technology, and layered manufacturing. Recent developments have improved tolerances, thinner layers, and wider material selection. Numerous technological developments nowadays are in the area of materials used in 3D printing. The overall goal in these developments is to move from the rapid prototype for visualization, to a functional prototype.

Prototype plastic injection molds are used to produce short runs of parts to be utilized in quoting customer needs. Prototype injection molds can take weeks and tens of thousands of dollars to produce. The use of additive manufacturing to aid in the process of developing prototype plastic injection molds can reduce the lead time and overall cost of producing functional parts for quoting prospective clients . A 3D printing process that has been a pioneer in developing printing technology and materials is Polyjet technology, which has the ability to print in layers as thin as 0.0063 inches. By being able to apply material at such thin layers, a higher resolution prototype was made, providing the geometric features desired from a mold.

The objective of this project was to expose students to 3D printing technology and perform design and testing for additive manufactured mold design. The designs will be determined based on part design, mold material, cooling channels, injection material, and mold life. Initial design guidelines for some geometry features will be studied. The goal of the project is to determine the feasibility of utilizing additive manufacturing for short runs, as well as quoting of functional injection molded parts. The project resulted in a very positive pedagogical experience for the students, and as well it resulted in an excellent venue for technological development using 3DP technology.

Rodriguez, J. (2016, June), Use of Additive Manufacturing (AM) for Mold Inserts in Injection Molding Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27113

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