In the manufacturing of plastics parts, many decisions are affected by your ability to cool the plastic part in a mold. The time it takes to cool the part will have a high impact on cycle time, so many mold designers look very closely at how the part can be cooled as fast and efficiently as possible. Cooling a plastic part uniformly is equally as important to mold designers. Uniform cooling ensures that stresses in the plastic material are minimal, because uneven cooling stresses can often cause downstream effects like plastic part warpage.
Most typical molds are cooled using straight line cooling channels because of manufacturing limitations. Using straight line cooling channels makes it hard to get cooling into areas of a plastic part that need to be cooled the quickest. In the mold design process, there is a lot of deliberation over the positioning and diameter of these cooling channels, however, you are limited because of the straight line cooling channels. The molders and mold-makers are buzzing with talk about the use of conformal cooling which will remove the cooling limitations of straight line channels.
Conformal cooling is a simple concept; instead of straight line cooling channels, you can create cooling channels that follow the contours of the plastic’s geometry. This does change the mold manufacturing process and cost, but it is a cost saving technology.
It is estimated that conformal cooling, with little engineering effort, provides a minimum of 10% reduction in cycle time. If you using SOLIDWORKS Plastics to analyze and engineer the conformal cooling channels to create a uniform efficient cooling design, many molds can see reductions from 20% to 40%. SOLIDWORKS Plastics is able to use solid modeled cooling channels to analyze the cooling results in a mold. We are already familiar with designing in SOLIDWORKS, so adding conformal cooling channels will just be another natural addition.
Conformal cooling will help to reduce rejects caused by warpage and will reduce the likelihood of a costly nonconformance. The uniform cooling reduces molded-in-stresses which will create a stronger part, all while increasing your safety factor. In the medical and automotive industries in which there is much risk involved, the decision to use conformal cooling is easy when costs of a problem quickly exceed the cost to manufacture with conformal cooling. In other industries, it will be a matter of simple math, with a reduction in cycle time that can increase your capacity for more parts or projects. This will offset the increased cost for manufacturing molds with conformal cooling.
SOLIDWORKS Plastics 2018 is going to allow you to analyze the option of conformal cooling before you ever cut steel, making plastics an essential tool for mold design.