Scientific coordinator:

1. Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Ingegneria Meccanica, Energetica e Gestionale. Ref. Prof. Ing. Luigino Filice
2. Università LUM Giuseppe Degennaro, Facoltà di Ingegneria. Ref. Prof. Ing. Giovanna Rotella

Type: PRIN 2022 PNRR

End date: 2025

Start date: 2023

Duration: 24

Overall budget: 239.365,00 euro

Funding: 239.365,00 euro

CNR cost: 92.475,00 euro

CNR funding: 92.475,00 euro

STIIMA budget: 92.475,00 euro

STIIMA funding: 92.475,00 euro

Coordinator: Ing. Vito Basile

Next Generation of sustainable and high-Efficiency molding processes

Climate change, energy supply crises and pollution impose a profound revision of manufacturing processes towards the twin transition goals, aiming at reducing emissions, energy efficiency and promoting the circular economy. With these objectives, we intend to focus our research on the broad category of molding processes. These processes play an important role in manufacturing since they allow to fabricate, on large scale and low costs, products with high accuracy and complex shapes, made of many materials, such as polymers, composites, ceramics, metals. Molding processes are energy-intensive and require expensive equipment. Furthermore, demanding market requirements can result in a short product turn-over and lifetime of some equipment is unpredictable and can be very short. Finally, the manufacturing world often does not address the end-of-life of equipment because players mainly perceive the cost of de-manufacturing and still do not exploit reuse and recycling. The mold is the core equipment. Currently, heavy bulk steel molds creates stiff cavities filled at high pressures by melt material. After the filling, a cooling phase enables the part solidification, the mold is opened and the part is ejected via mold mechanical actuation. Surprisingly, the state-of-the-art reveals a lack of radical innovations on molding processes. Research works are limited to incremental innovations on specific phases without a holistic viewpoint. Leveraging recent achievements on materials and manufacturing, we believe there is room for new approaches, addressing a disruptive innovation in the molding processes by developing new technologies, methodologies, and tools impacting on sustainability, energy harvesting, materials recycling, components reuse. A new concept of mold will be defined in M1 exploiting stiff lightweight structures (i.e.lattice, bulk-lattice) with complex geometry made of high-performance composites (carbon-peek) or metals/composites. The research on design is part of the M2, where components geometries are conceived with new algorithms and 3D CAD tools and optimized using CAE as multi-physics FEA, process simulations, topological optimization. The M3 is reserved to new molds manufacturing via Additive Manufacturing and process chains with subtractive technologies. M4 is demanded to optimize of the thermal energy committed into the process. Theoretical and numerical models will allow the concept of new conformal cooling solutions aiming at high-performance heat extraction from the mold cavity, transferrable to raw material pre-heating and drying. M5 addresses the efficiency of the mold mechanical systems, by optimizing tribological properties of guides, cams and actuators. Here, micro-texturing of lubricated sliding surfaces will promote hydrodynamic friction and wear reduction. M6 is focused on sustainability, circular economy and life-cycle assessment of new molds through the analysis of manufacturing,materials impact,recycling,components reuse.

Key research outcomes:

Basile, V., Modica, F., Rebaioli, L., Surace, R., & Fassi, I. (2023). Process Chains for Micro-Manufacturing: Modeling and Case Studies. Journal of Manufacturing and Materials Processing, 7(6), 215.