Optimization of Laminated Dies Manufacturing
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Due to the increasing competition from developing countries, companies are struggling to reduce their manufacturing costs. In the field of tool manufacturing, manufacturers are under pressure to produce new products as quickly as possible at minimum cost with high accuracy. Laminated tooling, where parts are manufactured layer by layer, is a promising technology to reduce production costs. Laminated tooling is based on taking sheets of metal and stacking them to produce the final product after cutting each layer profile using laser cutting or other techniques. It is also a powerful tool to make complex tools with conformal cooling channels. In conventional injection moulds and casting dies the cooling channels are drilled in straight paths whereas the cavity has a complex profile. In these cases the cooling system may not be sufficiently effective resulting in a longer cooling time and loss of productivity. Furthermore, conventional cooling channels are limited to circular cross sections, while conformal cooling channels could follow any curved path with variable and non circular cross sections. One of the issues in laminated tooling is the surface jaggedness. The surface jaggedness depends on the layers' thicknesses and surface geometry. If the sheets are thin, the surface quality is improved, but the cost of layer profile cutting is increased. On the other hand, increasing the layers' thicknesses reduces the lamination process cost, but it increases the post processing cost. One solution is having variable thicknesses for the layers and optimally finding the set of layer thicknesses to achieve the minimum surface jaggedness and the number of layers at the same time. In practice, the choice of layers thicknesses depends on the availability of commercial sheet metals. One solution to reduce the number of layers without compromising the surface jaggedness is to use a non-uniform lamination technique in which the layers' thicknesses are changed according to the surface geometry. Another factor in the final surface quality is the lamination direction which can be used to reduce the number of laminations. Optimization by considering lamination direction can be done assuming one or multiple directions. In this thesis, an optimization method to minimize the surface jaggedness and the number of layers in laminated tooling is presented. In this optimization, the layers' thicknesses are selected from a set of available sheet metals. Also, the lamination direction as one of the optimization parameters is studied. A modified version of genetic algorithm is created for the optimization purpose in this research. The proposed method is presented as an optimization package which is applicable to any injection mould, hydroforming or sheet metal forming tool to create an optimized laminated prototype based on the actual model.