Jul 21, 2017 | By Benedict

3D printed cooling cores made by British engineering firm Renishaw have helped jet washer manufacturer Kärcher cut the cooling time of its molding process by 55 percent. Kärcher can now produce more pressure washer casings in a shorter space of time.

You’d think German jet washer company Kärcher would be grateful for the high global demand for its K2 Pressure Washer, a distinctive, bright yellow machine that can be used to clean even the filthiest of outdoor surfaces. But before it can begin to celebrate this popularity, Kärcher needs to change its manufacturing methods in order to keep up with demand.

At present, the company can produce around 9,000 yellow casings for the K2 each a day (1,500 on each of its six molding machines), but Kärcher’s facilities and staff would actually be capable of assembling around 12,000 complete K2s per day—if only there were that many casings being produced.

Identifying this obvious problem with its production cycle, Kärcher enlisted the help of British engineering company Renishaw PLC to try and improve matters. While simply buying more molding machines would have increased the capacity (at a high cost), Renishaw told Kärcher it could improve efficiency in a much cheaper way: by reducing the cooling time required during the molding process.

According to Renishaw, the six Kärcher molding machines were recently equipped with special 3D printed cooling cores, reducing cooling time for the yellow pressure washer casings from 22 seconds to 10 seconds, a reduction of 55 percent.

The Kärcher K2 pressure washer in action

Simulations were used to analyze the existing process and determine how it could be shortened. Using data from these simulations, Renishaw subsidiary LBC Engineering was able to present a improvement plan to Kärcher, showing that the use of conformal cooling—3D printed cooling passageways throughout a mold core—could be used to improve the temperature control of certain mold hotspots.

Importantly, only additive manufacturing could produce the kind of cooling passageways required in these scenarios; casting and other subtractive methods would inadvertently “fill them in.”

After gauging the potential of additive-enabled conformal cooling, a new mold design was proposed that would use two 3D printed cores to provide conformal cooling at the mold hotspots, which had been detected using thermography.

Further thermographic images confirmed that, with the new design, wall temperatures of the mold could be reduced from 110°C to 70°C, enabling the 55 percent reduction in cooling time and consequently allowing Kärcher to produce more pressure washer parts in a given space of time.

Old (left) and new (right) molding tools for the K2 casing

The daily capacity for one machine can now be increased from 1,496 to 2,101 castings, meaning the company can easily hit its 12,000 target across its six machines.

“The results were better than expected,” said Kärcher’s moulding manager Leopold Hoffer. “Renishaw sold us a complete improvement package, with a holistic consideration and analysis of the mould used to achieve the best results. In our case, this meant a mix of conventional cooling technology, project-specific cores produced using additive manufacturing, and vacuum-brazed cores.”

Kärcher says it will now change the way it sees the effects of cooling when designing molds.

“Cooling calculations will be an essential stage of each mould design at Kärcher,” Hoffer said. “Using this information, we can then make the decision whether to work with conventional cooling or a conformal cooling solution.”

Earlier this year, Renishaw opened new North American headquarters and a 3D printing Solutions Center in West Dundee, Illinois. The two-story building spans around 133,000 square feet.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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