Hands off that mold; precision laser polishers replace grinding stones and manual labor


Mold polishing is perhaps one of the most critical phases of the mold build (and in mold repairs), and for decades it's been primarily a manual operation. Every mold company has one or two employees in a corner sitting under a bright light, bent over their work piece, painstakingly polishing with grinding stones, meticulously working with finer and finer abrasives until, micron by micron, the surface is perfect. This is time-consuming work and according to Karl Szanto, operations manager at injection mold manufacturer Tech Mold Inc. can represent as much as 8-12% of the total number of man-hours in a mold build.

Now, there may be an easier, faster way to polish mold components. Two companies in Germany have joined forces - Maschinenfabrik Arnold and S&F Sytemtechnik - in collaboration with researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT) and developed a machine tool which can polish both simple and complex surfaces using laser beams.
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