My Mold Engineering Project…
This semester I am enrolled in Mold Engineering (26.373), a second semester junior level class in plastics engineering. For a semester project, we break up into teams of four, design a part, and make mold inserts for it. They call this project the “Art to Part,” project.
Once the team decides on a part to create a concept is created using Solid Works, a solid modeling program similar to CAD. Once the model is approved by the team and the teacher, a prototype is made using a 3D-printer. Next a mold filling analysis is created for the part using MoldFlow. Using the solid model, a mold split is created on solid works to define the cavity and core of the mold.
Before the two halves of the mold can be machined using the CNC, the tools used and the tool paths have to be defined. This is done using a program called Mastercam. This is also one of the most difficult and time consuming steps in the project. Machining is also very time consuming, typically about 4-8 hours per mold half. After the two halves of the mold are machined they need to be polished. Polishing can take approximately 7 hours of labor for each side.
Once the mold inserts are polished to a near mirror finish, they can be assembled into a mold, and installed in the injection molding machine. Finally, parts can be injection molded using a plastic material and color of choice. This project takes your idea from a drawing to an actual production part.
For this project, our team is creating an ice mold. In more detail, it is an ice mold that makes shot glasses. We have just finished machining the core half of our mold insert and have done about 3 hours of polishing on the cavity insert. This means we still need to put in about 10 hours of polishing in before the mold can be put into the machine. Even worse the project deadline is next Monday. I think with a little bit of hard work we should not have trouble finishing this project.
I’ll try and put up some pictures soon…