Digital Magazine

Taking Aim on Single-Use Plastics: Metal 3D Printed Tooling Solution Designed to Change the World... One Paper Cup at a Time

The team at AIM Sweden AB (AIM), the commercial spin-off from the Mid Sweden University, has developed new methods for modelling and 3D printing an entirely new tooling concept that is being introduced in the manufacture of molded paper food and drink containers.

Over the past five years AIM Sweden has been using its three GE Additive Arcam EBM Q20plus and Q10plus systems to develop cutting-edge 3D printed perforated molds that address the unique challenges of turning wet, fibrous pulp into products, such as food containers and packaging material, with improved strength, thinner walls and the ability to contain liquids and fats.

This work has piqued the interest of the pulp and packaging industry as it is looking for new ways to help solve wider environmental challenges with new solutions. It also comes as consumer attitudes steer consumption habits in a more sustainable direction and governments increasingly look to regulation to help clean up the environment.

With the support of GE Additive, whose EBM additive manufacturing machines produce the molds, AIM Sweden’s new technology reportedly has the potential to be a game changer in the consumer goods packaging industry for cost, quality and sustainability reasons.

The collaboration has reportedly allowed AIM Sweden to develop a completely new tooling solution as well as an optimized EBM build strategy to produce extremely thin, highly stackable molds with minimal or no support structures, reducing production time significantly. In operation the thin titanium forming skins rest on a 3D printed nylon backing, also designed and produced by AIM Sweden.

These molds reportedly make it viable to design and optimize porosity on a hole-by-hole basis, including position, size, shape and angle at a consistent quality, allowing molded fiber to be used in ways never thought possible.

For more information, visit http://www.aimsweden.com.

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