Tool and mould making for tomorrow

The Fraunhofer Competence Field Additive Manufacturing offers a communication platform for companies, suppliers and customers in the toolmaking industry as well as users of additive manufacturing processes. To this end, the institutes develop new technologies and services along the entire value-added chain - from tool manufacture and the use of tools to their repair.

Solutions for man and machine

Forming Tools

Tool inserts for forming processes can be manufactured in a additive way to integrate benefit and additional functions into the tools. The laser-beam melted tool steel inserts meet the high strength requirements of the forming processes.

The research work of the Fraunhofer Competence Field Additive Manufacturing has resulted in the successful additive production of forging dies and their use in the dropforging process. Thus, real forged prototypes can be provided at a very early stage of product development.

In sheet metal hot forming (press hardening) additively manufactured tool inserts enable shorter cycle times and higher or variable strengths of the sheet metal parts as required. Cold forming processes can also benefit from the special features of laser beam melted tool inserts.


Tool inserts

The institutes of the Fraunhofer Competence Field Additive Manufacturing have extensive experience and expertise in toolmaking. On this basis, they develop new tooling concepts for primary and forming processes using the technology of laser beam melting - from the idea to series production.

Laser beam melting with its advantages can be used in tool making for the production of complex tool cavities. The production of active tool components, which are built into a master mold, also results in a large number of component variations at comparatively low production costs.

Additively manufactured tool inserts also integrate new functions in master and forming tools for optimized process control, for example for conformal cooling and temperature control, which shortens cycle times and improves the achievable component qualities.


Rapid technologies in tool production

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU in Chemnitz use additive processes to manufacture forming tools. They show how the technology can be applied using the example of a forging die. From three-dimensional CAD tool design to process simulation, laser melting of the die inserts and forging, the additive process chain was used to investigate the advantages and special features of this technology compared to conventional tool manufacturing under production-like conditions.

Repair and laser structuring

Solutions for man and machine

Tools always wear out fastest in the application where they are most heavily loaded. The material removal in these areas ultimately leads to the tools losing their functionality.


Rapir by laser deposition welding

Laser deposition welding is now an efficient method for repairs in tool and mold making: By reapplying the tool material locally, the geometry and thus the function of the tools can be restored.

In order to design laser cladding automatically and yet individually for such industrial applications, the Fraunhofer IPT has developed an integrative, CAM-supported process planning for a 5-axis machine tool system. The laser proves to be the ideal tool in terms of quality and efficiency.


Laser beam structuring in toolmaking

The technology of laser beam structuring has a great potential especially for the field of tool and mould making and here especially for plastic injection moulding. Therefore, the laser beam structuring process is becoming increasingly important for structuring the surfaces of corresponding mold tools.

In addition to the possibilities of improving the tribological behavior of moving components by means of functional microstructures which have been introduced into a surface with the laser, a main application of laser beam structuring is the surface design of mold inserts for plastic injection molding.