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Models and Molds - Non-Ferrous Materials or Aluminum

  • Models & Molds in Aluminum or Non-Ferrous Materials
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Why aluminum molds?

Market changes in the preference for aluminum, especially from the Automotive point of view, have been driven by the fact that:

  • Aluminum and its alloys have been used in the automotive industry, and specifically in the chassis and car body, since the end of the 1990's.
  • In the near future the use of aluminum alloys is expected to rise, in order to obtain lighter weight vehicles and a more sustainable manufacturing environment.
  • From the 1980's on, light alloys have been increasingly utilized, the content is twice as much compared to twenty years ago.
 

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Overview

Models & Molds in Aluminum or Non-Ferrous Materials

Models & Molds in Aluminum or Non-Ferrous Materials

There are several forces driving the market preference toward molds made from aluminum.

Market changes:

  • Increasingly shorter product life
  • More and more complex product shapes
  • Very short lead times

Availability of Alloys having very high mechanical characteristics, such as:

  • Mechanical properties which are under development, improvement of elastic limit, load and elongation, increased hardness
  • Versatile technological properties in the level and type of surface finishing

Why then aluminum molds?

  • Excellent machinability
  • Shorter construction times
  • High heat exchange
  • Simple cooling solutions and higher molding rates
  • Reduced weight
  • Easy handling of tooling
  • Design flexibility
  • Quick piece testing, fast changes, a mold with wall thickness greater than 5 mm (0.20")
  • Cutting tools longer life
  • Machine increased yield
  • Yield three times as much as steel
  • Some electroerosion operations (EDM) are no longer needed
  • Deep milling using small diameter cutters
  • Very short adjusting times
  • Minimal flexure generated by machining
High speed machining technology

High speed machining technology

The more complex shapes become (cavity sizes), the longer the machining times become. Therefore the use of high speed technology on machine tools has become increasingly necessary in order to obtain shorter machining times for aluminum mold and model making work.

High speed machining technology is not a matter only of the measure of a machine's positioning speed, also called its "feed speed". While this number may be large number and impressive in itself, say for instance 80 meters/minute (~266'/minute), it does not determine how quickly machining work takes place and merely indicates the top speed at which a machine will move when it has sufficient time to reach its maximum speed. Therefore another number is required which is referred to as acceleration/deceleration (also called acc/dec). This number is stated in terms of a distance per second per second and written as, ## s2. For example 1.0 meter/s2 means that at the end of 5 seconds the speed of movement will be 5 meters per second. With this in mind the average speed during the first second would be the initial starting speed of 0 plus the ending speed of 1 divided by both events and equals an average speed of 0.5 meters per second during the first second, or roughly 20" being the average speed of movement during the first second. So if a machine has an acceleration/deceleration speed of 3.0 m/s2 (118.1"/s2), as do the CMS machines for mold and model making, their average speed during the first second would be 59.05", or 118.1" during the 2nd second of movement.

Acceleration/Deceleration (Acc/Dec)

Acceleration/Deceleration (Acc/Dec)

In mold and model making, the majority of the programmed movements that take place occur in rather small distances, typically not long. Therefore, even if the machine has a high feed speed number, but a low acceleration/deceleration number, the time to machine a mold will be much higher. If, for example, the machine's acceleration/deceleration number is 1.0 m/s2 and not 3.0 m/s2, it will probably take about 3 times longer to do the surfacing work than it otherwise would. Given that many movement distances are even less that 20", perhaps even more time would be required for the cycle, since the machine's movement can never go far enough to ever achieve a higher speed.

What determines the setting for the acceleration/deceleration design speed of a machine? Fundamentally the way it's built. Machines that are designed with strong structural integrity can withstand the high speed, constant changes in inertia, without adding vibration to the machining process or tearing themselves apart by the constant jarring from high speed reversals. To be able to benefit from high acceleration/deceleration numbers a machine must be built well. Hence the reason there are lower cost machines with lower performances. It all depends on the design criteria for the intended work. And to get maximum performance in mold and model making, CMS has designed its machines with top acceleration/deceleration performances.

Longevity

Longevity

Aluminum molds had, in the past, been considered "soft tooling", but research by IBM in the early 1990's demonstrated, after a 5 year study, the value of aluminum molds for high volume production; and that compared to the same molds built in steel, aluminum molds cost about 50% less, were delivered in about half the time, and produced higher quality products with reduced cycle times of about 25-40%, while still producing quality parts after more than 2,000,000 cycles (source Douglas Bryce, moldmakingtechnology.com, Why Offer Aluminum Molds for Production?). With such obvious benefits, the demand for CNC technology has dramatically increased for high speed aluminum machining capabilities combined with accuracy and quality.

CMS is a leader in this specialized sector with its high performance, powerful high torque machining spindles, large volume chip/swarf removal rates, with full, free-form, 5-axis capabilities, and special attention given, not only to high feed speed, but to the high acceleration/deceleration characteristics needed for fast and efficient production cycles, providing full flood or mist processing capabilities with chip removal systems.

Monobloc
CNC's

Antares - compact, high performance for aluminum mold and model making

Antares - compact, high performance for aluminum mold and model making

Antares, CMS' moving bridge class CNC controlled machining center, is a small footprint, compact, high speed, accurate and powerful, 5-axis solution for machining aluminum molds and models. Antares provides a small to mid-sized component format, 3D working envelop, and comes standard with CMS' steelwork flat table, to which work fixtures can be anchored, and waste collection tanks, 2 front and 2 rear on swivel wheels, which can be manually extracted for disposal. Antares can also optionally be equipped with other CMS work table surfaces and holding systems: gridded aluminum plate, with vacuum and T-slot inserts for anchoring fixtures, or with CMS' rail and clamping system for more flexibility. Antares comes with a 12 kW power (16 hp) working unit, at 12,000 rpm, maximum 24,000 rpm, S1 rating, liquid cooled, with pneumatic brakes on the B&C axes while not interpolating to provide increased rigidity. Antares also comes standard with a central protection barrier and integrated security doors enclosure for nonstop work cycles.

Antares is available with basic strokes of 2600 mm (102.3") X, 1500 mm (59.1") Y, and 1200 mm (47.2") Z, +/- 135° B axis and +/- 270° C axis.

Antares has the fast positioning speeds and, even more importantly, the high speed acceleration/deceleration characteristics required for optimum aluminum mold machining:

  • quick positioning speeds of 80 m/min (3150"/min) X and Y axes, and 70 m/min (2756"/min) Z axis, 9000°/min B & C axes
  • quick acceleration speeds of 3.0 m/s2 (118.1"/s2) X, Y and Z axes, and 500°/s2 B&C axes Optionally, Antares may also be equipped with:
  • Mist lubrication cutting system
  • Linear and rotary scales for increased precision CMS' Table Rotating system (TR) for fast, safe, nonstop production cycles
Poseidon K - more power, with flood cutting capability, for aluminum mold and model machining

Poseidon K - more power, with flood cutting capability, for aluminum mold and model machining

Poseidon K, a monobloc version of the Poseidon series of CMS' moving bridge class CNC machining centers, extends the performance and processing capabilities required for aluminum mold and model machining with additional machining power and the complete range of cutting applications: dry, mist and full flood.

Poseidon K is available in the following size formats:

  • length (X stroke) of either 2600 mm or 4000 mm (102.4" or 157.5")
  • depth (Y Stroke) of 1500 mm (59.1")
  • Z stroke of 1300 mm (51.2")
  • +/- 110° B axis, +/- 300° C axis Poseidon K's working unit is CMS' KX5, available in either:
    • 15 kW power (20.1 hp) at 12,000 rpm, 24,000 rpm maximum, S1 rating, and pneumatic brakes on the B & C axes
    • 28 kW power (37.5 hp) at 4,300 rpm, 24,000 rpm maximum, S1 rating, and pneumatic brakes on the B & C axes Poseidon K is equipped with CMS' full perimeter protection system with integrated opening/closing doors, and CMS' standard fixed, steelwork table with aluminum vacuum plane and steel T slots, including 2 waste collection tanks on the rear of the table with swivel wheels, which can be easily and manually extracted. Poseidon K has the fast positioning speeds and high speed acceleration/deceleration characteristics required for optimum aluminum mold and model machining work:
  • quick positioning speeds of 85 m/min (3346"/min) X and Y axes, and 45 m/min (1772"/min) Z axis, 9000°/min B & C axes
  • quick acceleration speeds of 3.0 m/s2 (118.1"/s2) X, Y and Z axes, and 500°/s2 B&C axes Poseidon K is also available with optional:
    • linear and rotary scales
    • full flood system, including cutting fluid through the cutting tool, if required
    • waste removal solutions, with and without cutting fluid recycling and treatment
    • cast-iron table with T slots CMS' Table Rotating (TR) system for safe, nonstop pendular cycles
Cronus K - more power, increased precision, with flood cutting capability, for aluminum mold and model machining

Cronus K - more power, increased precision, with flood cutting capability, for aluminum mold and model machining

Cronus K, a monobloc version of the Cronus series of CMS' moving bridge class CNC machining centers, extends the performance, processing and precision capabilities required for aluminum mold and model machining with additional machining power, increased structural rigidity, backlash and structural thermic sensitivity elimination technology, and the complete range of cutting applications: dry, mist and full flood.

Cronus K is available in the following size formats with:

  • 2600 mm (102.4") or 4000 mm (157.5") X stroke
  • 1500 mm (59.1" Y stroke
  • 1300 mm (51.2") Z stroke
  • +/- 110° A axis
  • +/- 300° C axis rotation, as well as
  • guide-way axes double opposing servomotors for elimination of backlash
  • enhanced structural stiffness required for Cronus' ultra-precision characteristics
  • design elements for elimination of thermic structural growth
  • complete with linear and rotary scales Cronus K's working unit is CMS' Torque5, available in either:
  • 15 kW (20.1 hp) power at 12,000 rpm, maximum 24,000 rpm, liquid cooled, S1 rating, providing a high removal rate, in aluminum, of approximately 80 inch³ per minute MRR (Material Removal Rate)
  • 28 kW (37.5 hp) power at 4,300 rpm, maximum 24,000 rpm, liquid cooled, S1 rating, providing a high removal rate, in aluminum, of approximately 150 inch³ per minute MRR
  • incorporating rotary scales for high precision accuracy, high rotational speed, high rigidity, and with high torque capability
  • pneumatic brakes on the A & C axes for increased rigidity when not interpolating
  • 30 place tool changing magazine for toolholder storage Cronus K is equipped with CMS' full perimeter protection system with integrated opening/closing doors, and CMS' standard fixed, steelwork table with aluminum vacuum plane and steel T slots, including 2 waste collection tanks on the rear of the table with swivel wheels, which can be easily and manually extracted. Cronus K has the fast positioning speeds and high speed acceleration/deceleration characteristics required for optimum aluminum mold and model machining work:
  • quick positioning speeds of 85 m/min (3346"/min) X and Y axes, and 45 m/min (1772"/min) Z axis, 36000°/min A axis & 24000°/min C axis
  • quick acceleration speeds of 3.0 m/s2 (118.1"/s2) X, Y and Z axes, and 2500°/s2 A & C axes Cronus K is also available with optional:
  • full flood system, including cutting fluid through the cutting tool, if required
  • waste removal solutions, with and without cutting fluid recycling and treatment
  • cast-iron table with T slots CMS' Table Rotating (TR) system for safe, nonstop pendular cycles

Moving
bridge CNC's

ARES - extended range of size and flexibility for aluminum mold and model machining

ARES - extended range of size and flexibility for aluminum mold and model machining

ARES, CMS' moving bridge class CNC controlled machining center, provides a high speed, precision, powerful, 5-axis solution for machining aluminum molds and models with a number of additional versions for width and depth. ARES covers a range of 3D component format sizes from small to large.

ARES comes standard with CMS' fixed steelwork flat table with threaded hole grid to which work fixtures can be anchored, and is equipped with waste conveying chutes along the three table sides within the machine, which make the table cleaning easier and permit blowing chips toward the outlets at back of the machine, which can be connected to plant's vacuum collection system. ARES can also optionally be equipped with other CMS work table surfaces and holding systems: gridded aluminum plate, with vacuum and T-slot inserts for anchoring fixtures, or with CMS' rail and clamping system for more flexibility. ARES' basic working unit is CMS' PX5, with 12 kW power (16 hp), at 12,000 rpm, maximum 24,000 rpm, S1 rating, liquid cooled, or optionally equipped with a 6 kW version (8 hp) power spindle at 18,000 rpm, 27,000 rpm maximum, S1 rating, liquid cooled, with pneumatic brakes on the B&C axes while not interpolating to provide increased rigidity. ARES also comes standard with a central protection barrier and integrated security doors enclosure for nonstop work cycles.

ARES is available with work envelop sizes:

  • X axis 3600 mm (141.7"), 4800 mm (188.9") or 6000 mm (236.2")
  • Y axis 1800 mm (70.9") or 2600 mm (102.4")
  • Z axis 1200 mm (47.2")
  • +/- 120° B axis and +/- 270° C axis ARES has the fast positioning speeds and high speed acceleration/deceleration characteristics required for optimum aluminum mold machining:
  • quick positioning speeds of 80 m/min (3150"/min) X and Y axes, and 70 m/min (2756"/min) Z axis, 9000°/min B & C axes
  • quick acceleration speeds of 3.0 m/s2 (118.1"/s2) X, Y and Z axes, and 500°/s2 B&C axes Optionally, ARES may also be equipped with:
  • Mist lubrication cutting system
  • Linear and rotary scales for increased precision
  • CMS' Table Rotating system (TR) for fast, safe, nonstop production cycles CMS' APC tables (Automatic Pallet Changing) for fast, safe, nonstop, pendular work cycles
Poseidon & Cronus - large format, power, high precision, with flood cutting capability, for aluminum mold and model machining

Poseidon & Cronus - large format, power, high precision, with flood cutting capability, for aluminum mold and model machining

Poseidon and Cronus, CMS' large format series, moving bridge class, CNC machining centers, provide extended machining envelop options, multiple concurrent processing possibilities, and top end power and precision capabilities for the machining work required in aluminum mold and model making with the complete range of cutting methodologies available: dry, mist and full flood.

Poseidon can be configured for size and working unit as follows—

Strokes:

  • From X axis 2.5 m to 41.0 m (8.2' to 134.5')
  • From Y axis 2.6 m to 8.5 m (8.5' to 27.9')
  • From Z axis 1.3 m to 4.0 m (4.3' to 13.1'), non-telescopic version standard and telescopic versions available where reduced height limitations exist

Working units:

  • From PX5 working unit with 12 kW power (16.1 hp) at 12,000 rpm, maximum 24,000, liquid cooled, S1 rating, B axis +/- 120°, C axis +/- 270°
  • To KX5 working unit with 15 kW power (20.1 hp) at 12,000 rpm, maximum 24,000, liquid cooled, S1 rating, B axis +/- 120°, C axis +/- 270°
  • To KX5 working unit with 28 kW power (37.5 hp) at 4,300 rpm, maximum 24,000, liquid cooled, S1 rating, B axis +/- 120°, C axis +/- 270°
  • 16 place tool changing magazine standard, with additional expansion possible
  • Optional linear and rotary scales available for increased accuracy

Cronus can be configured for—

Strokes:

  • From X axis 2.5 m to 20.5 m (8.2' to 67.3')
  • From Y axis 2.6 m to 5.0 m (8.5' to 16.4')
  • From Z axis 1.3 m to 2.0 m (4.3' to 6.6')
  • A axis +/- 110°
  • C axis +/- 300°

Working unit, CMS' Torque5, available in either:

  • 15 kW (20.1 hp) power at 12,000 rpm, maximum 24,000 rpm, liquid cooled, S1 rating, providing a high removal rate, in aluminum, of approximately 80 inch³ per minute MRR (Material Removal Rate)
  • 28 kW (37.5 hp) power at 4,300 rpm, maximum 24,000 rpm, liquid cooled, S1 rating, providing a high removal rate, in aluminum, of approximately 150 inch³ per minute MRR
  • incorporating rotary scales for high precision accuracy, high rotational speed, high rigidity, and with high torque capability
  • pneumatic brakes on the A & C axes for increased rigidity when not interpolating
  • 16 place tool changing magazine standard, with additional expansion possible

Structure:

  • Guide-way axes double opposing servomotors for elimination of backlash
  • Enhanced structural stiffness required for Cronus' ultra-precision characteristics
  • Design elements for elimination of thermic structural growth
  • Included linear and rotary scales for high precision Poseidon and Cronus have the fast positioning speeds and high speed acceleration/deceleration characteristics required for optimum aluminum mold and model machining work:

Poseidon quick positioning & Acc/Dec:

  • quick positioning speeds of 85 m/min (3346"/min) X and Y axes, and 45 m/min (1772"/min) Z axis, 9000°/min B axis & 9000°/min C axis
  • quick acceleration speeds of 3.0 m/s2 (118.1"/s2) X, Y and Z axes, and 500°/s2 B & C axes

Cronus quick positioning & Acc/Dec:

  • quick positioning speeds of 85 m/min (3346"/min) X and Y axes, and 45 m/min (1772"/min) Z axis, 36000°/min A axis & 24000°/min C axis
  • quick acceleration speeds of 3.0 m/s2 (118.1"/s2) X, Y and Z axes, and 2500°/s2 A & C axes

Poseidon and Cronus are also available with optional:

  • full flood system, including cutting fluid through the cutting tool, if required
  • waste removal solutions, with and without cutting fluid recycling and treatment cast-iron tables with T slots, special steelwork tables fitted with aluminum work surfaces, gridded, with vacuum and T-slots, as required

Both the Poseidon and Cronus series of machining centers can also be equipped with multiple working units or multiple bridges for even greater productivity and flexibility.

Full flood
machining

Full flood machining options - waste removal, filter coolant recirculation system

Full flood machining options - waste removal, filter coolant recirculation system

CMS provides complete waste removal system capabilities for the Poseidon and Cronus series of CNC machining centers—including Poseidon K and Cronus K—to handle the large amount of chips produced during machining cycles, available with or without complete fluid filtration recovery and re-circulation equipment, in which the system automatically advances new filter media when the filter no longer efficiently works.

Images

High quality aluminum molds for a range of products

High quality aluminum molds for a range of products

Molding processes for parts ranging from cover plates to shower stalls benefit from high quality, high speed, low cost, efficient manufacturing processes brought about by the use of aluminum molds; the machining possibilities for which are provided by CMS' high precision, flexible, powerful, freeform, 5-axis CNC machining centers.

Possibilities for molds made in binary alloys

Possibilities for molds made in binary alloys

The picture shows one half of a stamping mold used in a production situation with a relatively low requirement for a formed sheet part. The mold benefits from a higher durability performance level with its "binary alloy" (two part) composition; and in this situation given the low production level requested versus the cost of the part, it's a good value and will perform well for a total production requirement of from 50 to 1,000 pieces.

Performance benefits for molds made in ternary alloys

Performance benefits for molds made in ternary alloys

The picture shows one half of an aluminum mold used in a horizontal pressing operation for formed sheet parts. The mold's high quality surface and resistance under heavy pressures provides a high quality part with an expected life cycle of from 150,000 to 300,000 pieces. The material providing this performance is a special ternary blended alloy (three part) with higher performance characteristics and yet capable of being machined with high speed CNC machining processes, exactly those required and provided by CMS' high speed, high performance CNC machining centers.

Performance benefits for molds made in quaternary alloys

Performance benefits for molds made in quaternary alloys

This picture shows another horizontal pressing operation with the male half of the mold showing, a complex heavy body cavity. The mold is made of a quaternary alloy (four part) and is highly durable with an expected long life, in high volume production, of 1 million parts. The application of this highly durable material is perfect for the situation, the benefits of which can be obtained with CMS' high speed, high precision, high power, CNC machining centers.

Molded component applications

Molded component applications

This photo shows the results, and suitability, of several molded components from the application of aluminum mold making technology to a range of today's needs, from a composting container section, gaining its strength from a lattice work of interconnecting ribs on its underside, to the bumper for an automobile.

Bumper molds

Bumper molds

This photo shows the inner and outer mold cavities for a automotive bumper manufacturing process, the matrix and punch. The molds are made from blended alloys for high durability and performance and yet obtain the benefits from molds based in aluminum with their reduced manufacturing cost structure and time for production, benefits which CMS' high performance CNC machining centers provide.

Videos

Surfacing test - aluminum mold

In this video, Poseidon performs a surface accuracy acceptance test for a well known European car manufacturer to verify its accuracy and stability in work. The test is performed with Poseidon's KX5 28 kW working unit and oil mist and involves roughing and finishing passes, which give a good idea of its acceleration/deceleration performance, as well as its material removing capabilities.

The surfacing test creates undulating, curved, and lifted, mirrored and demarcated surfaces, the union of which create a line running the entire length of the surface, the result of numerous oblique machining paths to the demarcation surfaces; none of the paths are parallel to the demarcation line. The information obtained from the test will indicate if Poseidon's structure runs true, square and free from harmonic vibration as well as visually verifying that the surface created is smooth and accurate throughout the range of interpolated moves and surfaces changes... All factors of great importance in aluminum mold making work. The surface result is smooth and refractive, a success.
 

Aluminum molds and continuous C axis rotation

FXB with double table and 5-axis, TUCU, working head with continuous rotation about the C axis is shown machining a mold from a block of solid aluminum. FXB's program carries out the roughing and finish milling processes, which are oil mist assisted. As can be seen in the video, CMS' TUCU (universal continuous rotation head) executes a number of continuous, endless, machining paths which do not require the TUCU working unit to "unwind", a situation in which the head is either required to reverse directions or lift from the machining path, unwind and execute a re-insert and blend movement, in the absence of a continuous rotation capability. In these situations, a continuous rotation about the C axis, a factor in certain types of spiral and circular surfaces, provides the benefit of reduced time and a more easily obtained higher quality surface.
 

Aluminum mold with highly finished surface

Ares carries out the 5 axis machining program for a high quality mold from a block of aluminum alloy. The video shows Ares making high speed roughing and finishing passes resulting in a finely finished mold surface. The machining process is assisted by oil mist.

Files

Solutions for Machining Molds and Models
(click folder on the left to download)