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Environmental impact estimation of mold making process


Increasing concern of environmental sustainability regarding depletion of natural resources and resulting negative environmental impact has triggered various movements to address these issues. Various regulations about product life cycle have been made and applied to industries. As a result, how to evaluate the environmental impact and how to improve current technologies has become an important issue to product developers. Molds and dies are very generally used manufacturing tools and indispensible parts to the production of many products. However, evaluating environmental impact in mold and die manufacturing is not well understood and not much accepted yet.

The objective of this thesis is to provide an effective and straightforward way of environmental analysis for mold and die manufacturing practice. For this, current limitations of existing tools were identified. While conventional life cycle assessment tools provide a lot of life cycle inventories, reliable data is not sufficient for the mold and die manufacturer. Even with comprehensive data input, current LCA tools only provide another comprehensive result which is not directly applicable to problem solving. These issues are critical especially to the mold and die manufacturer with limited resource and time.

This thesis addresses the issues based on understanding the needs of mold and die manufacturers. Computer aided manufacturing (CAM) is the most frequently used software tool and includes most manufacturing information including the process definition and sometimes geometric modeling. Another important usage of CAM software tools is problem identification by process simulation. Under the virtual environment, possible problems are detected and solved. Environmental impact can be handled in the same manner. To manufacture molds and dies with minimizing the associated environmental impact, possible environmental impact sources must be minimized before the execution in the virtual environment.

Molds and dies are manufacturing intensive products and most of their environmental impact is generated by the energy consumption during the machining processes. Milling and EDM operations were selected as the most influential mold and die manufacturing processes. Process variability was found to be the key issue which must be addressed for reliable analysis. Acceleration and deceleration in the milling process and the dielectric contamination and resultant decrease of MRR in the EDM process were identified as main factors for the variability. Energy consumption of these two processes were analyzed and modeled including the variability. Experiments were carried out to validate and improve this model. Finally, this model is implemented as simulation software tools on the basis of CAM software (Esprit CAMTM).

The CAM-based tool developed in this study can be more easily used in the mold and die manufacturing practice. Considering the variety of mold and die and their application, this tool would be just a small step to a long way to the environmentally benign mold and die manufacturing. However, with further research, the tool developed in this thesis will result in effective way to address environmentally benign mold and die manufacturing.

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