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Novel concepts for the design of moulds and equipment for expanded polymer bead foams

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Metal additive manufacturing is proposed as route for the manufacturing of moulds for expanded polymer parts. The traditional tools used in steam-chest moulding technologies can be replaced by lighter moulds accurately designed and produced by the laser-powder bed fusion technology, with significantly reduced thermal capacity and optimized ability to homogeneously deliver the steam throughout the part volume. The general design approach is described and the performance of the innovative tested solution is presented by the discussion of a case study. The experimental tests carried out on the moulds and moulding equipment prototypes showed remarkable reduction in cycle times and energy consumption when compared to a traditional steam-chest moulding used to print the same product.

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The authors would like to thank Prof. R. Casati for his helpful suggestions about L-PBF processing of the moulds. Dr. F. Cannazza and Dr M. Falconieri are also acknowledged for their support on computational simulations and on experimental activities about 3D micro-lattices, respectively.

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Correspondence to M. Vedani.

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Alessio, F., Alessio, M., Vedani, M. et al. Novel concepts for the design of moulds and equipment for expanded polymer bead foams. Prog Addit Manuf 6, 339–346 (2021).

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