The UK-based polymer research outfit Rapra Technology has secured some 700,000 Euros of EU funding on behalf of a European consortium to lead the development of anodised aluminium moulding tools for thermoplastic processing applications.
In addition to Rapra, the partners include UK surface treatment companies Brita Finishers and Heywood Metal Finishers and the Polymer Processing Research Centre at Queens University, Belfast.
Spanish companies Si2M, Andalplast and Ascamm Technology Centre are also involved as are Alcan VRC, the joint French research centre ARMINES/CROMeP, Sigma Engineering in Germany and the Irish outfit PPA.
The main goals of the project are to develop cost effective anodised aluminium alloy tools for a range of thermoplastic processing operations, such as injection moulding, blow moulding and rotational moulding, that have superior properties to current aluminium and steel tools.
If successful, the results of the project will be of great use to both aluminium toolmakers and polymer processors. It should allow aluminium tools to be manufactured whose wear and thermal properties exceed those of current aluminium tools and whose performance over a lifetime should also lead to significant processing advantages in terms of cycle time and energy usage.Project Manager, Dr. Gary Williams of Rapra Technology says: ‘Aluminium tooling shows significant advantages such as low density and high thermal conductivity but there are also significant disadvantages such as wear resistance, hardness and scratch resistance.” The project team hope to overcome some of these limitations.