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3D-Printed Injection Mold Coating to Extend Lifetime and Performance

Opportunity

The University of North Florida is seeking companies interested in commercializing an innovative system for protecting 3D-printed plastic molds from the thermal and physical stresses to which they are exposed when used in injection molding. The UNF technology significantly extends the life of these molds, allowing 3D-printed polymeric molds to be viable solutions for gap-stop for rapid need production, small-batch high-profit parts, and rapid prototyping runs.
Advantages
Greatly extends the lifetime of 3D-printed injection molds.

Resulting injection molds drastically reduce costs for small-run, legacy, or prototype parts.

The invention greatly decreases the lead time on injection molds.

Application

Almost all consumer products made from plastic are formed through injection molding. Typically, mold tools are made from steel or aluminum through subtractive manufacturing techniques. These mold tools last for 100,000+ parts, but often require 15+ days for even the most rapid design and are prohibitively expensive for small batch manufacturing or prototyping. Several companies offer 3D-printed polymeric molds for much lower prices and one-day turn-around times, but these molds only last for a maximum of 100 parts due to the high temperatures and pressures to which they are exposed. The UNF technology extends the life of these molds to 1000 or more parts, allowing 3D-printed polymeric molds to be viable solutions for gap-stop for rapid need production, small-batch high-profit parts, and rapid prototyping runs.

Invention Details

This invention is a unique system for protecting 3D-printed plastic molds from the thermal and physical stresses to which they are exposed when used in injection molding. The system consists of adding a number of layers using machining and vapor deposition. Machined layers include microflow channels which can be used to help cool the surface. On top of the channels, vapor deposition is used to deposit a series of layers. The first layer helps bond the subsequent layers to the 3D-printed material, the second layer helps to relieve thermal strain between the first layer and the subsequent layers, the third layer is a ceramic with high thermal resistance to help dissipate heat, and the final layer helps the casted part to be released from the mold.

 

Patent Pending. Invented by Dr. Stephen P. Stagon, School of Engineering, with Peter Cerreta and Ryan Scherzer.

More Information: John Kantner, Associate VP for Research, j.kantner@unf.edu, (904) 620-2455.