Layer thickness and draft angle selection for stereolithography injection mould tooling
journal contributionposted on 14.05.2009, 11:09 by Russell Harris, Neil Hopkinson, H.A. Newlyn, Richard J.M. Hague, Phill M. Dickens
The introduction of rapid prototyping has allowed engineers and designers to generate physical models of required parts very early on in the design and development phase. Further to this, the use of stereolithography (SL) cavities as a rapid tooling method has allowed plastic prototype parts to be produced in their most common production manner -- by injection moulding. The process is best suited to small production runs where the high costs of conventionally machined tooling is prohibitive. One of the major drawbacks of the SL injectionmoulding process is the susceptibility of the tools to premature failure. SL tools may break under the force exerted by part ejection when the friction between a moulding and a core is greater than the tensile strength of the core, resulting in tensile failure. Very few justified recommendations exist about the choice of mould design variables that can lower the part ejection force experienced and reduce the risk of SL tool failure. This research investigates the ejection forces resulting from SL injection moulding tools which are identical in all respects except for their build layer thickness and incorporated draft angles in an attempt to identify appropriate evidence for recommendations with respect to these design variables and SL injection moulding. The results show that adjustment of draft angle results in a change of part ejection force as a reasonably linear relationship. An adjustment of the build layer thickness results in a change in part ejection force as a more non-linear relationship. The adjustment of build layer thickness had a greater effect on ejection force than the adjustment of draft angle. The results also show that the surface roughness of all tools remains unchanged after moulding a number of parts in polypropylene. A mathematical model was used in an attempt to predict ejection forces according to the moulding material used. This model reflected the experimental results in terms of relative values but not in absolute values, which may be due to inappropriate specific values used in their calculation. Finite element analysis (FEA) was used in an attempt to identify the factors involved in the ejection process. Results indicate that the effect of draft angle on ejection force is due to elastic deformation of the surface roughness. A fact borne out by the lack of damage to the surface after ejection.
- Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering