Wire-PATH™: Modular and flexible tooling for rapid product development

Alexander Lee, Purdue University


Shortening the lead-time for introducing a new product to the market has always been important to maximize profits and for competitiveness. However, the current manufacturing process of the production mold relies on a slow and expensive machining process. WirePATH™, a patented mold making technology, have been developed to reduce manufacturing time for molds and dies. Unlike the traditional mold, where a solid piece of tool steel is machined, cut with sinker EDM and polished, wirePATH™ makes molds in segmented pieces using different manufacturing processes, and then the pieces are assembled together to form a complete mold. Primary focus of the research was to take full advantage of wire Electrical Discharge Machining (wire EDM) process because its application in mold making industry is not widely accepted but it has unique characteristics that can improve the overall mold making productivity. In order to make segmentation process easier, different segmentation algorithms and methods have been developed and tested. SliceCAD™ is the end result and the implementation of the developed algorithms. SliceCAD™ is a dedicated software program that can help a designer to break up mold designs without much knowledge of any commercial CAD software. From case studies of wirePATH™ applications and consulting with different industrial partners, its shortcomings and advantages have been identified. Although wirePATH™ can be applied in various net shape manufacturing processes such as injection molding, vacuum forming and sand casting. WirePATH™ is most suitable for making structural composite parts by compression molding process, extrusion dies, and micro thermoforming molds.




Ramani, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Mechanical engineering

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