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Conformal Cooling lines in SOLIDWORKS Plastics

Damon Tordini

In mold making, reducing cycle time is the key to faster (and cheaper) part production. The more quickly a part can be cooled, the sooner it can be ejected from the mold and the next cycle can begin.

To improve this cycle time, a new technology has emerged known as conformal cooling (see attached PDF). Traditional cooling lines in a mold are simply drilled passages throughout the mold block.

Conformal cooling, however, seeks to run cooling lines right up against the cavity of a part, closely following the contours in the mold itself. Since typical machining operations can't produce those shapes, direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) is used in high-end 3D printers to create these inserts.

Any mold designer involved with conformal cooling will have one main goal- to try different cooling line shapes and paths such as spirals, loops, or complex curves that follow the part.

The good news is that SOLIDWORKS Plastics can treat any solid body as a cooling line, which makes analyzing this easy. The best approach would be to model the part(s), runners, and cooling lines as solid bodies- to generate the mold, use the Virtual Mold Generation approach in the Solid mesh creation wizard.

A comparison showing the cycle-average mold temperatures from the COOL results versus the recommended mold temperature from the material definition will show the accuracy provided by this analysis.

Note: as Plastics is not a true CFD tool, the analysis cannot determine if changing the cooling line geometry will improve flow rates. That must be defined by the user.

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