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Hjerno strengthens its knowledge of conformal cooling

Conformal cooling is increasingly in demand in the plastics industry. As a result, Hjerno is now strengthening its knowledge in the field through a cooperation with one of Denmark's leading industrial companies: Danfoss.

The cooperation originates from a new national 3D print industry network and will in practice result in three course programmes with a total duration of 2.5 weeks. In collaboration with Danfoss and Technological Institute, Hjerno will here try to optimise two tools via 3D printed metal inserts and cores.

The aim is to learn more about whether 3D printing is mature enough to complement conventional vacuum soldering, which has so far been the preferred technology for conformal cooling.

"In recent years, we have perfected our skills in vacuum soldering and today we can produce some very, very advanced cores to ensure efficient cooling of the inserts. But at the same time, we are curious about the extent to which 3D printing can be applied to certain projects where an even higher degree of geometric freedom is needed," says Aage Agergaard, Managing Director of Hjerno Tool Factory.

Aims to influence the development
The course programmes will be conducted at Danfoss, Hjerno and the Technological Institute, respectively. From Danfoss, it is in particular engineer Sander Michaelsen, who manages the project, while Hjerno provides two men – technical designer and project manager Kenneth Nielsen as well as chief designer Jan Bebe.

Among other things, they will participate in designing 3D printed cores and inserts and then test them against parts made in the traditional way to verify the cooling. And also test whether material properties and tolerances are of sufficiently high quality.

"It is important for us to be at the very cutting edge of technology. And when such a project now exists in Denmark, it is logical for us to take this step and perhaps also influence the development by taking part in testing the methods in practice," says Aage Agergaard.

Not an either-or situation
Conformal cooling is basically about optimising parameters such as distortion and surface finish via advanced cooling channels – thereby reducing the cycle time and improving the quality of the finished part.

At Hjerno, this is traditionally done by vacuum soldering two or more cores. However, thanks to the maturity of the 3D printing technology, this technology can also be used to produce the highly sophisticated cooling channels.

"But it is important to emphasise that it is not an either-or situation. The main purpose of conformal cooling is to reduce the cycle time, and it is quite conceivable that this is best done in a combination of traditional vacuum soldering and 3D printing. This is, among other things, what we want to know more about," concludes Aage Agergaard.