Dresden-based PTZ Prototypenzentrum GmbH has been producing prototypes for a range of industries and partners for over 20 years, working in both metal and plastic. They’re highly experienced with several additive manufacturing processes but were unable to find a solution that worked for some of their most demanding applications until they were able to print with metal on the Markforged Metal X platform.
This tool cooler was originally produced from machined aluminum. The purpose of the cooler is to engage and disengage a cutting tool in the shank of an endmill through thermal expansion and contraction. This is a characteristic component of high-precision mills. The more conductive the cooler, the faster they could reconfigure the tool. The machined aluminum version was simple to produce, but due to thermal performance could not achieve PTZ’s desired cycle times.
Initially, the team tried using selective laser melting technology to produce a higher-performing design from AlSi10Mg alloy. They achieved better performance thanks to the complex internal cooling channels, but the new design didn’t hold up to the cooling medium and the process was quite expensive and difficult to implement.
Markforged Copper was the perfect fit for PTZ’s problem. Their design featured conformal cooling channels, which would make the tool cooler extremely efficient. This design was impossible to manufacture using traditional methods. Since they already had a design that closely fit the newly-available design space for the Metal X, they were in a great position to bring their idea to life in highly-conductive copper.
The new tool cooler could hold up to the cooling medium and provide 38% faster cooling than previous designs. By eliminating roughly 40 tool changes per day across two CNC machines, it would also save 111 hours per year. Given the average hourly machine rate, it stands to save PTZ $6,993 each year in machine time alone. Offering both the lowest cost and the highest performing materials made Markforged technology the only logical choice for the tooler cooler. The team plans to use Markforged Copper to develop electrotechnical parts for automotive devices.