In the area of tool manufacturing, rapid tooling, i.e. the production of equipment and tools via 3D printing techniques, is of special interest. The advantages lie in the good automation capabilities, fast reaction times regarding changes in the production process and in the optimization of tools due to the wide range of design possibilities. Examples for this are the production of injection or punching tools with contour-adapted cooling. By inserting internal cooling channels, the temperature can be distributed much more evenly within the tool, thereby reducing the cycle time for the injection molding process by up to 20% and thus also directly increasing the productivity of the manufacturing process.
Our ExAM systems are able to process conventional MIM pellets, which are not limited to stainless steels. This means that the production of carbide tools is also possible. The consequence is a technique that not only enables a wide range of design possibilities for the required tools, but is also able to print near-net-shaped tool blanks and thus significantly reduce the production costs. Furthermore, the CEM (Composite Extrusion Modeling) process, which we have developed and which involves a subsequent sintering step, is able to produce 3D printed parts of equal strength in all directions.