plastic mould, injection mould

Leroxid wins Euromold award for spark erodable ceramic

The gold innovation award at Euromold 2011 was won on 30 November by Leroxid of Hochdorf, for development of an innovative ceramic material for use in mould components, extrusion dies and other parts such as gears and threaded components. The Dimacer ceramic has a degree of electrical conductivity that enables the ceramic mould parts to be produced by the spark erosion process.

In addition, Dimacers coefficient of thermal expansion and thermal conductivity values are close to those for steel.

Leroxid says the material outperforms steel with its superior abrasion resistance. This is a particular benefit in protecting critical areas such as mould gates when injection moulding glass fibre reinforced plastics, as well in miniature and micro moulding, the company says.

Dimacer is also suited to ceramic injection moulding (CIM) and powder metal injection moulding (MIM) of filigree and sharp-edged parts.

In all these processes, mould wear usually becomes apparent after a low number of shots. In a short presentation at the Euromold 2011 award ceremony, this was illustrated by a video showing highly abrasive material being processed by an extruder through a gate made half of Dimacer and half of metal. The metal half became distinctly rougher after just 20 hours, while the Dimacer half actually improved by taking on a more polished surface.

Dimacer is prepared as a ceramic suspension containing a low 24% (by volume) of titanium carbide conductive content and meta-stabile tetragonal zirconium dioxide to prevent brittleness. The suspension is subsequently spray dried and sintered into blanks for spark erosion. The formulation and process used ensure that the conductive additive does not compromise the ceramics strength or toughness.

The new material was developed with assistance from the institute for ceramic component production technology at Stuttgart university. The three ceramic specialist companies Leroxid, OxiMaTec and Leonhardt Graveurbetrieb with which the institute worked are all owned and run by their founder, Dr Wolfgang Leonhardt.

Typical Dimacer properties presented by Leroxid at Euromold 2011 include: Vickers HV10 hardness 1,950; Rockwell Niihara penetration pressure hardness above HRC 80; 3-point elasticity modulus 400GPa; flexural strength 1,050Mpa; coefficient of thermal expansion 8.1 x 10 to the power of -6/K; and electrical conductivity 49 S/m.

Leroxid suggests that Dimacer may be spark eroded with an oil bath on, for example, an Agie Chamilles CUT 1000 Oil Tech spark erosion machine. 

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