HTS International Corporation and the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have signed an agreement to explore potential collaborations in advanced manufacturing research such as in conformal cooling. (Conformal cooling refers to the use of a cooling passageway which conforms to the shape or profile of a mold core or cavity to perform rapid, uniform cooling in injection molding or blow moulding.)
The memorandum of understanding follows HTS’s recent decision to locate its headquarters and production operations in a Knox County business park adjacent to DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL. The lab’s expertise and unique facilities in materials science, metallurgy and advanced manufacturing attracted the attention of HTS’s leadership during a 2015 visit to Tennessee.
HTS supplies specialty products to the injection molding and die casting industries, using its proprietary Metal Fusion Technology to produce large-scale steel production components with conformal cooling. These specially placed coolant lines allow parts to cool faster, which increases productivity for molding and casting manufacturers.
HTS’ innovative Metal Fusion Technology (iMFT) is a proprietary form of additive manufacturing used exclusively by HTS International. The iMFT process to produces parts designed using its innovative Thermal Management Solutions (iTherm).
HTS has developed accurate, practical simulation techniques to understand and optimize productivity. The iTherm design process incorporates data from simulations to engineer cooling solutions. Incorporating conformal cooling into molds, inserts, shot tips, and other products is known to reduce cycle time; the simulations provide predictive data for customers to make informed purchasing decisions.
The iMFT process was developed over 10+ years of R&D and has been in industrial use since 2014. Ongoing R&D is underway to expand the range of alloys available and expand the range of industrial applications.
Engineered thermal solutions like conformal cooling are important to many of our industrial collaborators. HTS and ORNL share mutual interest in several R&D areas, such as development of additive technologies in the steel tooling sector and implementation of corresponding industrial standards.—Craig Blue, ORNL’s director of energy efficiency and renewable energy programs
HTS is preparing to launch the first industrial standard in conformal cooling with a series of products under its iTherm brand.
Establishing a collaboration with ORNL to test and validate our iTherm tool plates and inserts is the first step towards standardization of conformal cooling for the injection molding industry.—HTS CEO William Sames
The in-situ testing of iTherm tool inserts is expected to be performed at the University of Tennessee Fibers and Composite Manufacturing Facility and Engineering Annex early this year.
HTS, named after its heat treatment services, has been in business since 2001 and has supplied custom products in Europe for more than five years. The company’s customers include original equipment manufacturers, automotive suppliers and companies in the consumer products and packaging industries. As it expands into the US market, HTS plans to invest more than $20 million in East Tennessee and create 200 new jobs over the next five years. Construction of its new facility is expected to begin later this year.
ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility is supported by the DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office. AMO supports applied research, development, and demonstration of new materials, information, and processes that improve American manufacturing’s energy efficiency, as well as platform technologies for manufacturing clean energy products.