GC Die Casting Offer Rapid Tooling
Cleveland, OH – Advancements in rapid machining and prototyping are being developed at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) that will considerably shorten the lead time for die casting tooling. Rapid tooling is important when a relatively small number of parts are required. This is important to DLA when tooling is no longer available to produce spare parts for aging weapon systems. Tooling lead time can play critical role to the overall procurement lead time, significantly affecting weapon system readiness. Rapid tooling methods that shorten lead times and reduce costs will expand the DLA casting supply base for high quality, dimensionally accurate parts.
Over the past year, CWRU has been working with NADCA and GC Die Casting company to develop a higher quality heat sink for military-tracked vehicles utilizing rapid tooling methods. Rubberized tank tracks are subjected to demanding operating conditions. In addition to normal wear and tear, they are exposed to temperature extremes that can affect performance and result in separation between the rubber and the track. To prevent separation, an aluminum heat sink that absorbs excessive heat from the rubber is embedded between the track and the rubber. Die casting is the most cost effective fabrication method for this heat sink because of the large production volumes involved.
GC Die Casting company, the die caster for these parts, had to frequently replace the HI3 steel dies because of excessive thermal fatigue cracking. The project team recommended replacing the HI3 steel dies with two alternate grades of steel. The new dies were completed in record time utilizing rapid tooling methods. Compared to HI3, a die set fabricated from one of the alternate steel grades produced twice as many castings before any welding repair was deemed necessary. The die set fabricated from the other alternate steel grade made three to four times as many castings. NADCA and AFS are supporting the technology transfer to their membership and CWRU is applying the lessons learned on Rapid Tooling to recent USCAR and DOE projects. In the the coming year, CWRU will collect, process, and report performance data from the rapid tooling production guidelines for fabrication of rapid tooling. The close collaboration and synergy fostered by the AMC program between the R&D teams, the CAST-IT application engineers, and the metalcasting associations and their members is very unique, making significant contributions to DLA and the metalcasting industry.