Ph.D. Researcher at IT Sligo
Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering
“Sensorisation of Injection Mould tooling created by Additive Manufacturing.”
PEM would like to introduce you to Albert Weinert, one of our PhD Researcher’s, Albert tells us about himself, his studies and his research topic “Sensorisation of Injection Mould tooling created by Additive Manufacturing”, in this ‘Meet the Team’ showcase;
Albert began his academic studies in IT Sligo where he completed a BEng (Hons) in Mechatronics Engineering (2014 – 2018). After completing his studies, he was offered the opportunity of continuing to work with the research staff of IT Sligo as a PhD Researcher. After a successful recruitment stage, he began his post-graduate studies under Dr Marion McAfee and Dr David Tormey. As part of the research, he collaborates with AbbVie Ballytivnan, Medical Device Manufacturer. AbbVie is a world-leading manufacturer of auto drug delivery devices for diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, Crohn’s disease and others. The industrial collaboration with AbbVie allows Albert to test out his designs in their testing labs and on their production machines. Working with AbbVie gives Albert insight into common problems with injection mould tools. This provides more understanding in terms of tool wear classification and also the process parameters under which the tools operate.
Albert is in his second year of studies and is expected to finish in 2023. This project is part of I-Form, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing whose mission is to shape the future of manufacturing through high-impact research into the application of digital technologies to material processing. This research project is contributing to the development and deployment of embedded sensors and data analytics for the in-process condition monitoring of Injection Mould tooling fabricated by metal additive manufacturing (3D printing). Additively manufactured tooling offers flexibility in design which enables the manufacturers to produce high-quality goods made to buyers’ exact specification. With design flexibility comes the possibility of sensor integration, which can provide a better insight into the tool wear and part quality during the process.
Figure 1 - Schematic diagram of the project workflow.
In-mould, sensors are superior to sensors located in other areas of the Injection Moulding Process (e.g. in the barrel or nozzle). However, in practice the use of sensors in the mould is relatively rare, a major limiting factor being the complexity of the mould and modifications required to integrate the sensor. Albert’s work is contributing to development and design of a mould with embedded sensors which can be analysed for developing predictive models of tool wear (i.e. fatigue stresses, cracking, cooling channel blockages, etc.) and optimal preventive maintenance.
The Additive Manufacturing process for injection mould tool fabrication has considerably more scope for supporting the adoption of optimal conformal cooling and inline tool monitoring capability relative to traditional tool design and machining capabilities. The development of inline mould monitoring capability is of interest to mould manufacturers as it provides the basis for developing novel business services for the remote monitoring and diagnostics of their customers’ moulds, which is currently not possible to do through conventionally machined moulds.
With the application of additive manufacturing for the production of injection mould tooling, sensor integration will enable monitoring of the performance of the produced tooling leading to a reduction in downtime. Less time will be wasted in unnecessary stops for physical tool checks. Additional benefits of using additive manufacturing is the integration of conformal cooling channels which provide the opportunity to follow the complex geometries of produced parts and can significantly decrease the cycle time. With sensor integration and real-time monitoring of tooling, new opportunities are created for tool manufacturers to provide tool monitoring and maintenance services to their customers under Industry 4.0.