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Title:
DEFLECTOR EMBEDDED IN A THERMAL SYSTEM OF DISCRETE UNITS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/227271
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention relates to a thermal system for use with a granular bed support. The granular bed support consists of a volume adjustable retaining vessel filled with aggregate material. A thermal fluid is introduced into the volume adjustable retaining vessel inlet as is allowed to exit through an outlet. A deflector is incorporated into the volume adjustable retaining vessel to direct the thermal fluid towards a top surface of the granular bed support. The deflector shape can be modified to provide increased thermal flow to areas subject to differential cooling. The deflector can also be shaped to provide more consistent thermal transfers along the entire top surface of the granular bed support.

Inventors:
BORLAND JOHN (CA)
Application Number:
CA2018/000118
Publication Date:
December 20, 2018
Filing Date:
June 13, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
BORLAND JOHN CHARLES (CA)
International Classes:
B29C33/02
Foreign References:
US9211660B22015-12-15
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WRIGHT, Laurie et al. (CA)
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Claims:
THE EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION IN WH ICH AN EXCLUSIVE PROPERTY OR PRIVILEGE IS CLAIMED ARE D EFINED AS FOLLOWS:

1 . A support bed for use in molding comprising

an adjustable granular bed comprising aggregate material retained in a retaining vessel, at least a portion of said retain ing vessel being of a flexible sheet material, an arrangement for fluidizing said aggregate material and at least one arrangement for stressing said aggregate material;

said adjustable granular bed, in a stressed state of said aggregate material, having said flexible sheet material and stressed aggregate material shaped to generally uniform ly support said rear support face of a molding component;

said adjustable granular bed, when said arrangement for fluidizing said aggregate material is activated, being reconfigurable as the aggregate material is displaceable such that the shape of the adj ustable support can be altered to follow the shape of the molding component;

said arrangement for stressing said aggregate material causes jamm ing of said aggregate material and support of said molding component and said arrangement for fluidizing said aggregate material allows for reconfiguration of said aggregate material; said support bed further including at least one thermal system to facil itate the circulation of a thermal fluid through the granular bed; and wherein

a deflector for directing the thermal flow is contained within said granular bed.

2. A support bed according to claim 1 wherein said at least one thermal system having at least one inlet for introducing a thermal fluid into the support bed and at least one outlet through which the thermal fluid exits the support bed.

3. A support bed according to claim 2 further com prisi ng at least one volume adj ustment device for adjusting the internal volume of the support bed. 4. A support bed as claimed in claim 3 wherein the volume adj ustment devices is attached to a wall of the retaining vessel .

5. A support bed according to claim 4 wherein the volume adj ustment device is coupled to the deflector.

6. A support bed according to any one of claims 2 to 5 wherein said at least one thermal system further i nclud ing a control system having a control apparatus for dynam ical ly adj usti ng the temperature of the thermal fluid.

7. A support bed accord ing to claim 6 wherein said control system having a control apparatus dynam ical ly adj usts at least one further property of the thermal fluid includ ing pressure and flow velocity.

8. A support bed according to claim 7 wherein the at least one thermal system has mu ltiple inlets.

9. A support bed according to any one of claims 7 to 8 wherein the at least one thermal system has mu ltiple outlets.

10. A support bed according to any one of claims 1 to 9 wherein said deflector is embedded within the aggregate material.

1 1 . A support bed according to any one of claims 1 to 9 wherein the deflector is coupled to at least one part of said granular bed.

1 2. A support bed accord ing to any one of claims 1 to 1 1 wherein said granu lar bed contains at least 2 regions, each region containing an aggregate having a different property from another region.

1 3. A support bed according to claim 1 2 wherein the differing property is at least one of the fol lowing; size, shape, density, material, hardness and conductance.

14. A support bed accordi ng to any one of claims 1 to 1 3 wherein said deflector includes at least one insert coupled thereto to direct the flow of the thermal fl uid.

1 5. A support bed accordi ng to any one of cla ims 1 to 14 wherein the temperature of said deflector is control led by a deflector thermal system .

1 6. A support bed accord ing to any one of claims 1 to 1 5 wherein said deflector incl udes sensors to communicate the temperature at a predefined point along the deflector to a control panel.

1 7. A support bed accord ing to any one of claims 1 to 16 wherein said deflector is of sim i lar shape to the mold ing component supported on top of the support bed.

1 8. A support bed according to any one of claims 1 to 1 7 wherein the deflector is comprised of m ultiple sections independent from one another.

19. A support bed according to any one of claims 1 0 to 1 8 wherein the granular bed contains at least 2 regions, including at least an upper region and an adjacent region positioned below the upper region, and the top surface of the adjacent region is formed to the desired deflector shape and forms the thermal deflector.

20. A support bed according to any one of claims 1 to 19 wherein said thermal system includes a network of conduits to distribute the thermal fluids to predetermined areas of the granular bed which require variation in temperature.

Description:
TITLE: DEFLECTOR EM B EDDED IN A

THERMAL SYSTEM OF DI SC RETE U ITS

FI ELD OF TH E INVENTION

The present invention relates to a thermal system for a granu lar bed support use in molding. More specifically, the present invention relates to a thermal system for a granular bed support for use in molding incorporating deflectors embedded in aggregate material contained within a volume adj ustable retaining vessel .

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The shaping and manufacture of plastic or composite parts typically requires the use of tooling or molds. In molding systems, there is a high cost and inefficiency of heating and cooling the mold. The thermal transfers into and out of the mold is an important factor affecting many aspects of part production, including but not limited to production cycle times, cost of manufacture, material viscosity, cavity fill, cosmetic surface quality, internal material stress and other properties of the parts affected by uniform thermal flows. Controlling and directing thermal flows can reduce pressure drops, control flow velocities, and control flow dynamics.

Existing systems attempt to address thermal transfers in several ways. Some existing molds use a series of conduits or holes throughout the tool through which a thermal l iquid is passed to control the thermal properties of the part throughout the molding process. The thermal transfer in these designs occurs primarily along the conduit and may not be consistent across the surface of the part. Other thermal system use coolant flowing into a porous medium disposed within an injection molding component adjacent to mold wal l to faci litate thermal transfer between the coolant and the and injected liquid plastic. However, these systems can be inefficient and expensive. There remains a need to provide improved control over the transfer of thermal energy to and from the mold in a cost effective manner. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention pertains to a support bed for use in molding comprising an adj ustable granular bed comprising aggregate material retained in a retaining vessel, at least a portion of the retaining vessel being of a flexible sheet material, an arrangement for fluidizing the aggregate material and at least one arrangement for stressing the aggregate material. The adj ustable granular bed, in a stressed state of the aggregate material, has the flexible sheet material and stressed aggregate material shaped to generally uniformly support the rear support face of a molding component. The adjustable granular bed, when the arrangement for fluidizing the aggregate material is activated, being reconfigurable as the aggregate material is displaceable such that the shape of the adjustable support can be altered to follow the shape of the molding component and the arrangement for stressing the aggregate material causes jamming of the aggregate material and support of the molding component and the arrangement for fluidizing the aggregate material allows for reconfiguration of the aggregate material. The support bed further includes at least one thermal system to facilitate the circulation of a thermal fluid through the granular bed and a deflector for directing the thermal flow is contained within the granular bed.

In a further embodiment of the invention, the at least one thermal system has at least one inlet for introducing a thermal fluid into the support bed and at least one outlet through which the thermal fluid exits the support bed. In yet a further embodiment of the invention the support bed further comprises at least one volume adjustment device for adjusting the internal volume of the support bed.

In yet a further embodiment of the invention the support bed the volume adjustment devices is attached to a wall of the retaining vessel.

In another embodiment of the invention the support bed the volume adj ustment device is coupled to the deflector.

In yet a further embodiment of the invention, the at least one thermal system further includes a control system having a control apparatus for dynam ically adj usting the temperature of the thermal flu id. In yet a further em bodiment of the invention, the support bed has a control apparatus dynam ical ly adjusts at least one further property of the thermal fluid including pressure and flow veloc ity.

In yet a further embodiment of the invention, the at least one thermal system has multiple in lets.

In yet a further embodiment of the invention the at least one thermal system has multiple outlets.

In yet a further embodiment of the invention, the deflector is embedded within the aggregate material.

In yet a further embodiment of the invention, the deflector is coupled to at least one part of the granular bed.

In yet a further embodiment of the invention, the granular bed contains at least 2 regions, each region containing an aggregate having a different property from another region.

In yet a further embodiment of the invention, the differing property of the aggregate is at least one of the following; size, shape, density, material, hardness and conductance.

In yet a further embodiment of the invention, the deflector includes at least one insert coupled thereto to direct the flow of the thermal fluid.

In yet a further embodiment of the invention, the temperature of the deflector is control led by a deflector thermal system.

In yet a further embodiment of the invention, the deflector includes sensors to communicate the temperature at a predefined point along the deflector to a control panel .

In yet a further em bodiment of the invention, the deflector is of sim ilar shape to the mold ing component supported on top of the support bed. In yet a further embodiment of the invention, the deflector is comprised of multiple sections independent from one another.

In yet a further embodiment of the invention, the granu lar bed contains at least 2 regions, including at least an upper region and an adjacent region positioned below the upper region, and the top surface of the adjacent region is formed to the desired deflector shape and forms the thermal deflector.

In yet a further embodiment of the invention, the thermal system includes a network of conduits to distribute the thermal flu ids to predeterm ined areas of the granular bed which require variation in temperature.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Preferred embodiments of the invention are shown in the drawings, wherein:

Figure 1 is an illustration of the adj ustable granular bed support;

Figure 2 is a partial sectional view of a portion of the granular bed support showing the aggregate and interstices;

Figure 3 is an illustration of the granular bed support and corresponding thermal system;

Figure 4 is a partial sectional view of the granular bed support having a deflector with inserts embedded therein;

Figure 5 is a cross section of a deflector having an additional thermal system embedded therein;

Figure 6 is an illustration of an alternative embodiment of the invention wherein the deflector is formed of granular material ;

Figure 7 is an illustration of the thermal system integrated into an infusion mold ing apparatus; Figu re 8 is an i ll ustration of the thermal system integrated into a resin transfer mold ing with l ight mold apparatus;

Figure 9 is an i ll ustration of the thermal system integrated into a resin transfer molding apparatus;

Figure 10 is an illustration of the thermal system as used in post process curing;

Figure 1 1 is a partial cross section of a mold and aggregate showing channels in the backside of the mold;

Figure 12 is an illustration of an alternative adjustable volume retain ing vessel having rigid walls and a relief apparatus; and Figure 13 is an illustration of a granular bed support having a thermal system with a branched inlet.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS The invention pertains to a thermal system for use in a granu lar bed support used during the molding process. The granular bed support can be used in various types of molding and at various points in the molding operation. The granular bed support can be used alone or can be fitted with a mold, flexible membrane, a preformed flexible membrane, liner, or counter mold depending the appl ication for which the granu lar bed wil l be used. Figure 1 shows a generic granular bed support 200 having a volume adjustable retaining vessel 206 that houses aggregate material 208 and 2 1 0. The volume adjustable retaining vessel sits on base 2 12. It includes a fill port 207 for adding aggregate and further includes a vacuum port 2 1 9 and an air in let port 2 1 7 to faci l itate jamm ing and release respectively of the aggregate material 208 and 2 1 0. The aggregate material 208 and 2 1 0 is capable of being stressed to cause jamm ing of the aggregate as described in

U.S. Patent 921 1660. Stressing of the aggregate typical ly includes compaction, vibration and then jamm ing by an actuator, although other methods are possible. This process essential locks the aggregate material to al low the engagement and support of the preformed mold. part, l iner, or membrane. The granular bed support 200 additionally incl udes at least one i n let 2 1 6 and at least one outlet 2 1 8 to accommodate the introduction of a thermal fl u id into the granular bed support 200. The vol ume adjustable retaining vessel further includes a drain 201 to drain the thermal flu id. Embedded within the aggregate 208 and 2 1 0 is a deflector 2 14 to d irect thermal flu id.

It shou ld be noted that ali figures show aggregate units. These un its are depicted randomly for simpl icity but represent aggregate in the jammed state. The volume adjustable retain ing vessel could take different forms. For example, it could be made of a flexible material that conforms to the shape of the aggregate therein. Such an embodiment is shown in figure 1 . Alternatively, the volume adjustable retaining vessel could be an open topped box 700 with rigid sides (for example a steel open topped box) as shown in figure 12. The top of the box 700 is fitted with a mold 704, liner, membrane or any other suitable material. In some embodiments, flanges 703 are used to fit the mold 704, l iner, or membrane to the open top box 700. The box is partly filled with aggregate 71 0 to a nearly jammed state using the vacuum port 71 5 on a bottom layer. The deflector 714 is placed in the box and more aggregate 708 is added to a nearly jammed state. The aggregate is then fully jammed by applying a vacuum using vacuum port 7 1 5. As the thermal fluid enters the volume adjustable returning vessel through inlet 71 6, it passes through the volume adjustable retaining vessel and the aggregate and any air in the volume adj ustable retaining vessel will start to expand. Thus, there is a rel ief apparatus 755, such as actuator, bladder, or relief valve, incorporated in the volume adjustable retaining vessel to accommodate for these changes. The rel ief apparatus 755 can be placed anywhere in the top layer of the

Vessel. It is used to increase or decrease the volume and, therefore, pressure as required depending on whether the flu id is hot or cold .

The thermal flu id then exits through outlet 71 8. The embodiment further inc ludes a fi l l port 707 for adding aggregate, an air inlet 709 for releasing the aggregate from its jammed state and drain 70 1 for faci l itating the removal of the thermal fluid. The granu lar bed may also include one or more vol ume adj ustment devices. A volume adj ustment device can be any apparatus that increases or decreases the internal volume of the support bed or granu lar bed. Examples i nclude, but are not l im ited to, devices such as flu id bladders, actuators, cams, shape memory materials or other comparable devices. At least one of the volume adj ustment devices can be attached to the deflector or support bed wal ls or they can be floating within the granu lar bed itsel f. They function to local ly stress portions of the granu lar bed that may be di fficult to stress by other means. The volume adjustment device may be activated in conj unction with other actuators to maintain the stabi l ity of the bed in localized locations. For example, the bladder may be expanded to local ly stress the bed and a l inear actuator can be activated to hold the locally stressed granular material in place after the bladder is de-activated. One advantage of this arrangement is that in the bed or layer of the bed that has thermal fluids passing through it, the vacuum causing isotropic stress must be turned off and yet be held stable as the fluids are introduced to the bed.

Returning to the general embodiment shown in figure 1 , the aggregate 208 and 210 can include a wide range of materials, however preferred materials include granular material. Examples of such materials include but are not limited to silica sand, beach sand, marbles, ball bearings, shaped plastic particles, sand blasting particles such as metal beads of different sizes and shapes and materials, tumbl ing media such as washed river pebbles, glass beads, glass microspheres, crushed glass particles, propant particles (commonly used in the gas fracking area) of various sized, shapes, angularity, roundness hardness and surface roughness, walnut shell granules, aquarium sands, ceramic beads, plastic or ceram ic coated sands, and sand blasting particles of all kinds and hardness. Additionally the aggregate could be hol low or be made from metal foam- core materials.

The granular material can exist in multiple states, for example a flowable, mal leable and a solid state. In addition, these states can be permanent or sem i-permanent on demand by stressing the discrete granu lar un its that make up the med ia mass common ly called a granular bed. The units can be of any size, shape, or material and can be m ixed so that regions within the volume adjustable reta in i ng vessel 6 are partial ly or total ly independent of other regions in the bed. In the jammed state, the granular bed support consists of sol id un its of aggregate particulates 226 and interstices 224 or spaces between the un its as shown in figure 2. These spaces make up approximately 30% of the volume within the envelope and can vary widely in volume depending on the characteristics of the aggregate particulates 226 and on the packing protocols used to create the bed and to stress the units within the bed. However the spherical un its in the preferred embodiment have approximately a 30% porosity level.

The granular bed support includes a thermal system 300 as shown in figure 3. This figure om its part of the aggregate to show an example flow of the thermal flu id through the volume adj ustable retaining vessel . The flow of the thermal fluid is shown in broken line arrows. The thermal system includes an external control center 300 for control ling the flow of thermal fluid through one or more granular bed supports. The external control center 300 has a controller 225 including an apparatus to enable a user to adj ust temperature, flow rate and other thermal fluid variables, a heat source 22 1 for heating the thermal fluid, a cooling source 223 for cooling the thermal fluid and a pump 227 for circulating the thermal fluid. Also included in the external control center 300 is a filtration system 229 for filtering the thermal fluid before being pumped into at least one volume adjustable retaining vessel. The pump 227 is coupled to the inlet 216. When in use, the pump 227 pumps fluid of the desired temperature through inlet 2 16, infiltrating the volume adjustable retaining vessel 206 in a random turbulent manner through the interstices 224 between adjacent aggregate particles 226. The thermal fluid also infi ltrates the interstices 224a (shown in figure 2) between the volume adjustable retaining vessel 206 and the adjacent aggregate particulates 226. Gradually the apparatus reaches a thermal equi librium state so that the area above the deflector reaches a uniform temperature. By embedding a deflector 2 14 in the granular bed support 200, the direction, flow velocity and turbulence of the thermal flow can be directed in a desirable pattern to manage the pressure drop in the volume adj ustable retaining vessel 206 and maxim ize the transfer of energy to and/or from planned regions of the granular bed support to any part or mold which the granular bed may support. This provides improved control over the transfer of energy to and from the granu lar bed support saving time and energy in the part production process. The deflector can be of any size, shape, rigid ity, and construction, such as sol id, perforated, lattice structures, layered, with support legs or support arms which could be connected to the envelope. It can also be constructed in a lattice structure with a solid layer on the face wh ich is close to the mold skin. The deflector can be oriented in any direction and placed at any elevation within the envelope. In some embodiments, the deflector i n partial contact with the mold skin or the bottom or sides of the envelope to faci litate position ing. The deflector 2 14 can be a single unit or made of a plurality of sections. In embod iments where the deflector is made of multiple sections, these sections may be either joined, separated, or tiered to improve thermal flow.

In a preferred embodiment, the deflector is positioned on an angle with respect to the top surface 204 of the granular bed support 200. The leading edge 238 of the deflector 2 14 is located lower in the volume adjustable retaining vessel 206 than the trailing edge 240 of the deflector 2 1 4. The thermal fluid enters the volume adjustable retaining vessel 206 via the in let 2 1 6 at a first temperature Tl and as heat is lost to the aggregate and mold, part, or mold skin on top of the granular bed support, the thermal fluid exits the volume adj ustable retaining vessel 206 through the outlet 218 a second, lower temperature T2. The angled deflector 214 increases the velocity of the thermal fluid as it moves from the inlet 21 6 to the outlet 21 8 because the thermal fluid is essentially funneled between the top surface 204 of the granular bed 200 and the deflector 214. Since the top surface 204 of the granular bed support 200 is exposed to an increasingly higher density of thermal fluid based on the distance from the thermal fluid inlet 2 16, the temperature d ifference of the top surface 204 of the granular bed 200 proximal the inlet 2 1 6 versus proximal the outlet 21 8 is reduced.

The deflector 2 14 can be of any shape, such as a flat plate as shown in figure 1 . However, in a preferred embodiment shown in figure 4, contours can be added to the deflector in the form of inserts. The aggregate 208 has been omitted from this figure to provide c larity when i l l ustrating example flows of the thermal fluid. These inserts 232, 234 and 236 are coupled to a deflector base 230 and are shaped to direct and deflect thermal flows. For example, insert 232 is shaped to direct the thermal fluid upward towards the top surface 204 of the volume adj ustable retaining vessel 206 and then back down away from the top surface 204. i nsert 234 is shaped to direct the thermal fluid upward and insert 236 is shaped to cause turbulence of the thermal fluid. These inserts can help direct heat to areas if a mold, part or mold skin subject to di fferential cool ing and can provide more consistent thermal changes across the mold, part, or mold skin .

The deflector 2 14 can alternatively be essentially the same shape to the mold or part itself. In this embodiment, the deflector can be manufactured by taking an impression off the mold or part and creating the deflector matching the mold or part shape based on the impression. Alternatively, the deflector can be made using a 3 D printer or any other suitable means of manufacture.

The deflector itself can have an additional and separate heating and cooling system incorporated therein to assist in thermal transfers within the system. Electrical heat can be provided to all or some areas of the deflector to further control thermal transfers. Figure 5 shows deflector 214 having heaters 23 1 incorporated therein. The heaters are connected to a power source 233 which would be located external the granular bed. The heaters 23 1 could be heater tubes or plates or any other suitable means including but not limited to nano tubes or carbon fibers. Since these heaters are embedded within the deflector 214 they would be protected from any thermal fluids. Alternatively, the deflector could be manufactured to include a system of channels and conduits to receive its own thermal fluid.

The deflector and/or deflector inserts can be made of any suitable materials including but not limited to fabric, geotextiles, metals, polymers, elastomers, composites, shape memory material, nano materials, or any combination thereof.

Although aggregate of uniform size could be used to fill the entire granular bed support, it is preferred that the granular bed support includes a base layer 220 of a first variety of aggregate 21 0. This layer is located generally below the deflector 2 14 and has smaller aggregate particulates and smal ler interstices than the top layer 222, located generally above the deflector 2 14. In this embodiment, the thermal fluid will flow primari ly through the top layer 222 as the interstices in th is layer are greater than those in the bottom layer. This helps to d irect the thermal flu id along the top of the granular bed support. I n another em bodiment, the deflector can a lso d ivide, or partia l ly d i vide the envelope into layers or regions. This would be beneficial i f for example large granular units are required in a region close to the top surface 204 of the granular bed support 200 and smal ler un its are requ ired for support in regions far from the top surface 204 of the granular bed support 200.

The size of the aggregate particulates 226 can vary depend ing on the size of the part being processes. I n most appl ications, a diameter of ¼ inch to

1 inch is preferred. Particularly, a diameter of ½ inch is preferred for the top or thermal system layer 222 as it provides a suitable porosity that al lows the thermal fluid to pass through without high pressures for typical mold ing applications. However, an aggregate diameter of up to 12 inches may be desirable, especially for large parts, such as wind turbine blades.

In an alternative embodiment, shown in figure 6, the deflector can be molded out of the aggregate. In th is embodiment, a deflector volume adj ustable retaining vessel 250 is filled with aggregate 252 and placed within a support volume adjustable retaining vessel 254. During set up, the aggregate 252 is partially jammed and then physically manipulated such that the top surface 257 is shaped to the desired deflector shape. Once the deflector shape is achieved, the aggregate 252 is fully jammed using a first vacuum port 25 1 coupled to the deflector volume adj ustable return ing vessel 250. Then the support volume adj ustable retaining vessel 254 is filled with aggregate 260. The aggregate 260 is jammed via vacuum port 253 to support the mold, part, or mold skin. The support volume adj ustable retaining vessel 254 includes a thermal system having at least one inlet 256 and at least one outlet 258 through which the thermal fluid is passed. The deflector volume adjustable retaining vessel 250 and the support volume adj ustable retaining vessel 254 can optional ly be coupled to prevent movement relative to each other. In this embodiment, there is no infi ltration of the thermal fluid into the deflector volume adjustable retaining vessel 250. Each of the deflector volume adj ustable reta ining vessel 250 and the support adj ustable return ing vessel 254 include fi ll ports 259 and 261 , respectively, and air in let ports 263 and 265, respectively. The support adj ustable volume return ing vessel 254 also includes a drain 267. I n an alternative embodiment of the thermal system, m u ltiple inlets are provided at various points a long the thermal fluid path. As shown in figure 1 3, the common thermal inlet 2 1 6 splits into several branched 801 , 803 and 805. The aggregate particles in figure 1 3 have been om itted to c learly show the branches of the inlet 2 1 6 and the flow of the thermal fluid shown by the arrows with broken l ines. Each branch could further divide, as shown with inlet 803 which further divides into branch 807 and 809.The branch ing of the inlet 2 1 6 al lows for the introduction of thermal fl uid at various points along the thermal fl uid path, which reduces heat loss of the thermal fl uid along the path from the inlet 2 1 6 to the outlet 2 1 8. T his design is also used to provide increased heat to areas of the mold, part, l iner or membrane subject to differential cooling. The branched in lets allow for hot thermal flu ids to be sent to regions of the granular bed which are far from the thermal fluid in let without having to pass through interstices between aggregate particles. This reduces heat loss to the aggregate particles.

The deflector can be used in combination with localized heat provided to specific areas of the mold as disclosed in United States Patent 9,21 1 ,660.

The deflector in any embodiment can be shaped such that the thermal flow direction, velocity, and turbu lence pattern can be somewhat controlled and the transfer of heat from the thermal fl u id to the part is more efficient and uniform. Uniform temperatures of particular im portance during part manufacture to provide more consistent mechanical properties throughout the manufactured part.

The deflector helps to provide more effective management of thermal transfer between the mold, part or mold skin and the granular bed and al lows for the addition or reduction of thermal energy in preferred regions. This allows to more evenly, consistently and uniform ly d istribute energy to areas of the mold that have similar masses and where masses vary in areas of the mold, uneven transfers can be encouraged. Th is system al lows transfer of energy to the mold or part and is advantageous in saving time and energy during production.

The therma l system can be utilized in several different parts of the molding process as wel l as in d i fferent types of molding appl ications. The system can be used during in fusion mold ing, resin transfer molding with l ight molds, resin transfer molding and can be also used during the process curing portion of part prod uction.

Use of the deflector in infusion molding is shown i n figure 7. I n th is arrangement the volume adj ustable retaining vessel 306 supports a mold 304 on the top surface thereof. The granular bed is fitted with a vacuum l ine 3 1 9 for jamm ing the aggregate and an air inlet 3 1 7 for releasing the aggregate. The granular support bed 300 contains a deflector 3 14, inlet 3 1 6 and an outlet 3 1 8 for the thermal flu id. A drain 30 1 is provided to drain the thermal fl uid. A counter mold 3 1 6 is attached to the granular support bed 300 and seals 362 are used to provide a seal therebetween. A negative pressure vacuum is applied using the vacuum l ine 364 which attaches to the vacuum port 366 of the counter mold 360. This evacuates air from the cavity between the fi lm counter mold 360 and the mold 304 which causes a positive atmosphere pressure to push the resin 368 and/or any other suitable molding materials known to a person ski l led in the art, into the mold cavity. If any fibers reinforcement is used this process wou ld push the resin into the fiberous enforcement. During this process the thermal system is used to control the temperature of the mold. In some embodiments it may be desirable to direct heat to certain parts of the mold that could be subject to differential cool ing. Additionally, the thermal system can be used to remove heat from the mold 304 and part made from the resin 368. By controlling the thermal properties of the part during the molding and curing stage, the structural properties of the part can be improved.

Figure 8 shows use of the thermal system and resin transfer molding with light molds. The granular support bed 400 includes a vacuum port 4 1 9 for jamming aggregate and an air port 41 7 for releasing aggregate. In this molding process the granular support bed 400 incorporates a volume adj ustable retain ing vessel 406 which is coupled to a semi-flexible mold 404 which essentially makes up the top surface of the volume adjustable retaining vessel. Within the vol ume adj ustable retaining vessel there is the deflector 414 to d irect the thermal fluid. The thermal fl u id enters the granular support bed through inlet 41 6 and exits through outlet 41 8. The system also uses a top sem i- flexible mold 472 wh ich provides a mold for the backside of the eventual part. Resin and fibrous material 470 is located between the top flexible mold 472and the semi- flexible mold 404. As in the injection molding embod iment, the thermal system is used to control the thermal properties of the resin and fi brous material during the molding and curing process. When necessary the thermal fl u id is drained through drain 40 1 .

Figure 9 depicts use of the thermal system in resin transfer mold ing. This method uses two granular support beds. A bottom granu lar support bed 500 and a top granu lar support bed 502 each having vacuum ports 5 1 9 and 52 1 respectively and air ports 5 1 7 and 523 respectively for jamming and releasing aggregate. Figure 9 shows the thermal system integrated into the bottom support bed 500. The thermal system for the bottom granular bed has an inlet 5 1 6 and outlet 5 1 8 as well as a drain 501 . The thermal system for the top granu lar bed has and inlet 52 1 and outlet 523 as well as drain 525. The bottom support bed 500 has a volume adjustable retaining vessel 506 with a mold 504 which makes the top surface of the volume adjustable retaining vessel 506. The thermal system further includes a first deflector 5 14 for helping to control the distribution of thermal energy to the mold 504. The top granular support bed 502 can optionally have its own thermal system. Figure 9 shows the top granular support bed 502 incorporating the thermal system which includes inlet 520 and outlet 522 as well as the deflector 524.

The thermal system also has uses in post process curing. After parts are about 80% cured and in stable configuration, the part is solidified however maximum cure has not been reached. For some applications, the part is removed from the mold and further heated to maxim ize curing. This additional heating can be done with or without pressure and by any means known to a person skilled in the art, but common known methods are by autoclave or oven. This process is slow and costly and often takes many hours to complete. The current thermal system can be utilized in the post curing process by using a granular support bed incorporating the deflector and thermal system to support the part. A bottom granular bed 602 is used to support the part and a second top granular bed is shaped to sit on top of the part such that the part is enclosed between the bottom bed 602 and top granular bed 604, as shown in figure 1 0. The bottom bed 602 has a thermal system incl ud ing inlet 61 6, outlet 61 8, drain 601 and deflector 608. The top granu lar bed 604 has a thermal system including inlet 620, outlet 622, drain 625 and deflector 6 1 0. The part 606 is located between the bottom granular support bed 602 and the top support bed 604. Optional ly, each of the granular beds 602 and 604 can be fitted with membranes (627 on top and 629 on the bottom bed) located between the granular beds and the parts. During the post cure process heat can be added via the top and bottom thermal system . Ph is method el im inates the need for costly autoclave or ovens. The heating via these thermal systems is more efficient than previous known methods and thus the cost of achieving a h igh cure can be reduced. As with other embod iments, each granu lar bed has a vacuum port (61 7 on the bottom and 62 1 on the top bed) and airport (6 1 9 on the bottom bed and 623 on the top bed) for jamming or releasing the aggregate respectively.

In any embod i ment containing at least one mold, the molds can includes a series of channels on the bottom surface thereof. This is shown in figure 1 1 where the mold 4 contains channels 47 which are adjacent the aggregate particulates 26. These channels 47 allow the thermal flu id to be in closer proximity to the top surface 48 of the mold 4. This increases the thermal transfer between the thermal fluid and the eventual part. Although various preferred embodiments of the present invention have been described herein in detai l, it wi ll be appreciated by those skilled in the art that variations may be made thereto without departing from the appended claims.