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TRUMPF Reports 6% Revenue Growth In FY2019

TRUMPF Reports 6% Revenue Growth in FY2019

The TRUMPF Group has reported preliminary sales estimates of €3.8 billion for its fiscal year ended June 30, 2019, up by around 6 percent compared to the €3.6 billion in the previous year. Orders, however, slightly dropped by around 3 percent to €3.7 billion.

After Germany, with sales of about €730 million, TRUMPF’s largest single markets are the United States with about €545 million, the Netherlands with around €460 million, and China with approximately €415 million.

This sales increase was driven by the high level of orders from the previous year as well as by the expansion of the EUV business. TRUMPF supplies its Dutch customer ASML with special lasers that utilise extreme ultraviolet radiation to expose the surface of microchips for the computer industry.

“The economic situation has deteriorated. This is clearly reflected in our order intake, at both the Machine Tools and Laser Technology divisions. Only a few business areas, such as EUV or electronics, remain the exception at the moment,” said Nicola Leibinger-Kammüller, CEO of TRUMPF.

The company sees the reasons for the decline in order intake in the ongoing trade dispute between China and the US, the uncertainties surrounding Brexit, the structural changes in the automotive industry and also the economic slowdown in China.

“These uncertainties are toxic for investments, and customers, especially the smaller ones, are postponing their purchase of new products as a result,” said Leibinger-Kammüller.

During the fiscal year, the Group workforce increased by 8 percent to around 14,500. As of June 30, 2019, there were more than 7,400 employees in Germany, 4,400 of them at the headquarters in Ditzingen.

 

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TRUMPF Is Expanding The Scope Of 3D Printing

TRUMPF Is Expanding The Scope Of 3D Printing

With global interest in additive manufacturing technologies on the rise, TRUMPF presents its new 3D printing applications that can drive advances in various industrial sectors.

Additive manufacturing processes enable the creation of unprecedented complex shapes that are both light and stable. With the benefit of digital connectivity, they fit seamlessly into state-of-the-art manufacturing systems in use today. The 3D printer is a key tool for many manufacturing processes ranging from mass customisation to one-off builds. It can print anything from bespoke facial implants to special parts for cars or airplanes. Able to print components in one piece, these systems often spare vendors the effort of multiple manufacturing steps.

“Interest in additive manufacturing technologies remains high because the process’s benefits are proving their merits in more and more practical applications. This applies as much to conventional metalworking companies as it does to future products in the aerospace industry,” said Thomas Fehn, general manager at TRUMPF Additive Manufacturing.

Three examples of TRUMPF 3D printing in industrial manufacturing:

  1. Personalised Craniomaxillofacial Implants

Russian medical device manufacturer CONMET has been using a TRUMPF 3D printer to produce craniomaxillofacial implants since early 2018. 3D printed implants are ready for insertion, precisely fitted and cleaned, before the procedure begins. This enhances patient safety while cutting costs and speeding up surgery. Furthermore, it can print parts that are sturdy and durable while still cushioning against blows. The implant’s porous structures facilitate the ingrowth of healthy tissue. CONMET has managed to reduce the cost of manufacturing craniomaxillofacial implants by around 40 percent.

  1. A Lightweight Mounting Bracket For Communication Satellites

TRUMPF has been commissioned by the space company Tesat-Spaceroom to produce a 3D-printed mounting structure for Germany’s Heinrich Hertz communications satellite, which will be used to test the space-worthiness of new communication technologies. In collaboration with the company AMendate, TRUMPF engineers succeeded in optimising the geometry of the mounting structure and reducing its weight by 55 percent. This optimised mount is both lighter and more robust. During the launch of the satellite the new mounting structure will withstand the same high forces and will hold its shape better.

“This is just one example of how we can use additive processes in satellite construction to reduce weight and increase payload capacity,” says Matthias Müller, industry manager for aerospace and energy at TRUMPF Additive Manufacturing.

  1. Easy-To-Make Sewer Cleaning Nozzles

TRUMPF joined forces with USB Düsen and Heilbronn University of Applied Sciences to demonstrate the benefits of 3D printing in the fabrication of cleaning nozzles for sewers.

The 3D-printed variant eliminates the need for milling and gluing. The component can be printed without any supporting structures, so there is no finishing work to be done afterwards. The software-driven process is far more accurate than manual gluing. Measurements have shown that printing cuts production time by 53 percent. For the first time, this will allow up to 10,000 parts to be manufactured per year. Another benefit is a smoother flowing jet of water. TRUMPF engineers expect the new nozzles to reduce water consumption and boost cleaning performance.

 

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Trumpf Steps Up Expansion Of Smart Factory Solutions

Trumpf Steps Up Expansion Of Smart Factory Solutions

Trumpf is stepping up the development of its smart factory solutions by combining them with its machine networking and platform activities at its headquarters in Ditzingen, Germany. A number of these solutions were developed by Trumpf subsidiary Axoom at its site in Karlsruhe.

One of the goals of this change is to further standardise machine networking in order to offer customers smart factory solutions more quickly and easily than previously possible.

“Up until now, we have often had to deploy made-to-measure customer solutions, which are more complicated and costly to integrate,” says Mathias Kammüller, Chief Digital Officer at Trumpf.

That is why now, more than ever, Trumpf is relying on close collaboration with experienced partners—as exemplified by a corresponding agreement with GFT Technologies.

For its part, GFT wants to grow its industrial business by taking over Axoom’s portfolio and team at the Karlsruhe site effective July 1, 2019. Karlsruhe will become a new business hub for GFT.

Part of the Axoom team, which was closely involved in the development of components for the TruConnect manufacturing solution, will be transferring to Trumpf. These software solutions will remain with Trumpf, along with the rights to the Axoom brand.

Kammüller said, “We are convinced that this reorganisation at Trumpf and the development partnership with GFT will enable us to achieve our digital ambitions for sheet metal processing even more quickly and effectively, and to expand our proven expertise in industrial IoT and smart factory solutions even faster.”

The close partnership with GFT is initially intended to run for two years. Both companies have a longstanding partnership in a variety of areas.

“The acquisition of the Axoom team fits well with our investment strategy, which aims to extend our industrial expertise, while the development partnership with TRUMPF will enable us to pursue our industrial offensive faster and on a broader front. GFT is indeed waging this offensive from its principal location in Germany,” said Marika Lulay, CEO of GFT.

 

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TRUMPF Uses AI In Laser Processing

TRUMPF Uses AI In Laser Processing

TRUMPF is presenting a laser processing system with artificial intelligence (AI) that allows it to be operated intuitively using voice commands at the Laser World of Photonics 2019 trade show this week in Munich, Germany. Equipped with a marking laser, the system demonstrates the potential benefits of AI in laser processing, and how it takes automation to the next level.

“With AI, production processes that use our lasers will become even more efficient, easier to operate and more adaptable,” said Christian Schmitz, CEO, Laser Technology at TRUMPF. The demonstration will show how the operator can instruct the machine to carry out actions such as ‘open/close the door’, ‘start the marking process,’ or ask, ‘how many products have been marked today,’ simply by speaking into a microphone. The laser system responds immediately and carries out the instruction.

There are many advantages of voice control, such as making it easier for inexperienced users to operate the machine because they don’t have to learn how to navigate the multi-layered menu structure when entering instructions manually via the software interface. It also saves time, because operators have their hands free to prepare the next part for processing or remove a finished part from the machine. Moreover, by providing barrier-free access, voice control allows handicapped persons to operate the machine.

As the next stage in this project, the TRUMPF development engineers intend to further simplify operation of the marking laser system. At present, the operator has to tell the machine what part has been loaded so that it can start the appropriate marking program. In the future, advanced sensor systems and image recognition software will enable the machine to identify the part and select the necessary program on its own. It’s not even necessary to load the part in a specific orientation—the machine is so intelligent that it can automatically position the laser at the correct angle before starting the marking process.

 

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TRUMPF Strengthens Sheet Metal Solutions Via Investment In ZIGPOS

TRUMPF Strengthens Sheet Metal Solutions Via Investment In ZIGPOS

TRUMPF is strengthening its sheet metal solutions capabilities by acquiring a 25.1 percent share in IT startup ZIGPOS, a Dresden-based company specialising in location tracking applications and system solutions for the IoT. In particular, the company offers a solution for statistical evaluations regarding indoor position tracking.

“In the field of sheet metal production, digitisation is now becoming a crucial competitive factor. With our investment in this company we are complementing our existing intra logistics offer based on BeSpoon technology, which especially benefits small and medium-sized customers,” says Tom Schneider, managing director for development in the machine tools division at TRUMPF. ZIGPOS has around 20 employees, and its customers include technology groups and companies from the semiconductor industry.

IT startup ZIGPOS is already supplying software components for TRUMPF’s indoor position tracking system Track & Trace. The solution determines the position of sheet metal parts in real time, and the resulting transparency increases productivity in manufacturing.

“With the help of our software, TRUMPF tracking systems can already significantly reduce throughput times in production. We look forward to expanding our cooperation at a strategic level,” says Erik Mademann, CEO of ZIGPOS. Thanks to ultra-wideband technology, the tracking system can also be used in metal production environments—for instance, between machines and sheet metal storage areas. TRUMPF successfully uses Track & Trace for customers as well as in its own manufacturing processes.

 

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Paris Air Show: TRUMPF Showcases How 3D Printing Improves Satellites And Aircraft

Paris Air Show: TRUMPF Showcases How 3D Printing Improves Satellites And Aircraft

At the Paris Air Show this week, TRUMPF is demonstrating how additive manufacturing (AM) can improve satellites and aircraft.

Satellites are subject to a whole array of ever more stringent requirements. On the one hand, they need to be as light as possible, because every kilogramme that a launch vehicle carries into space costs the client several hundred thousand euros. At the same time, however, satellites must be robust enough to withstand the tremendous forces experienced during launch.

Weight reduction is equally important for aircraft because it leads to a significant drop in fuel consumption. This reduces both their environmental impact and costs.

Additive technologies are the perfect match for the aerospace industry because they enable engineers to create parts that are both lightweight and robust. These methods only add material where it is actually needed, while conventional methods such as milling and casting often struggle to eliminate superfluous material. 3D printers are also adept at handling light metals such as aluminium and titanium, and AM engineers enjoy much more freedom in the design process because they are not confined by the limitations of traditional production methods.

TRUMPF offers expertise in both the key methods required by the aerospace industry: laser metal fusion (LMF), which is carried out entirely within the confines of the 3D printer, with a laser building up the part layer by layer from a powder bed; and laser metal deposition (LMD), which uses a laser beam to build up layers on the surface of a part, with the metal powder being injected through a nozzle.

Three Examples of How 3D Printing is Improving the Aerospace Industry:

  1. Weight of satellite mounting structure reduced by 55 percent

TRUMPF has been commissioned by the space company Tesat-Spaceroom GmbH& Co. KG to produce a 3D-printed mounting structure for Germany’s Heinrich Hertz communications satellite, which will be used to test the space-worthiness of new communication technologies. The mounting structure includes strap-on motors that are used to modulate microwave filters.

In collaboration with the company AMendate, engineers succeeded in optimising the topology of the mounting structure and reducing its weight by 55 percent. The mount now weighs just 75 grams instead of 164 grams.

The team of experts printed the redesigned part on TRUMPF’s TruPrint 3000 3D printer. The new geometry cannot be produced using conventional methods. Apart from being lighter, the optimised mounting structure is also more robust. During the launch of the satellite, the new mounting structure will withstand the same high forces and will hold its shape better. The Heinrich Hertz satellite mission is carried out by DLR Space Administration on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy and with the participation of the Federal Ministry of Defence.

  1. Cost of engine parts reduced by 74 percent

TRUMPF is also showcasing an AM use case for the aviation sector at the Paris Air Show. In collaboration with Spanish supplier Ramem, TRUMPF experts have employed 3D printing to optimise a part known as a ‘rake.’ Manufacturers use this part during engine development to measure the pressure and temperature of the engine. These kinds of measurements are an important part of testing aircraft performance. Mounted directly in the engine’s air flow, rakes are exposed to extreme temperatures and high pressure. To deliver accurate measurements, they must conform to precise dimensional requirements. Producing rakes by conventional means is an expensive and time-consuming process.

Workers produce the base structure on a milling machine before inserting six delicate tubes, welding them into place and sealing the body of the rake with a cover plate. If just one of these tubes is out of place, the rake has to be scrapped. TRUMPF produced an optimised rake geometry on the TruPrint 1000 3D printer. Redesigning the part in this way makes it quicker for the manufacturer to produce and reduces the amount of material used by around 80 percent, ultimately slashing the overall cost by 74 percent.

  1. Making engine blades easier to repair

TRUMPF is also presenting some sample applications of LMD technology at the Paris Air Show. These include the LMD repair of a high-pressure compressor blade—also known as a 3D aeroblade—used in aircraft engines. Apart from having to withstand extreme changes in temperature during flight, these components are also in constant contact with dust and water, and they typically show signs of wear on the edges and tips, requiring aviation engineers to periodically repair the blades to maintain engine efficiency.

The LMD method is perfect for this job, as in some sections of the blades, the material is just 0.2mm thick. Conventional methods quickly reach their limits in these kinds of applications. With LMD technology, however, the laser can be positioned with an accuracy of approximately one hundredth of a millimetre before it applies a precisely calculated dose of energy. At the same time, the system feeds in material of exactly the same composition as the part itself. This process makes it easy to repair the blades multiple times, significantly reducing the cost per part in each engine overhaul.

 

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Print Perfect

Print Perfect

If 3D printing were a human being, it will be on the verge of adulthood. All the broad outlines are already there, but it might well still have some surprises up its sleeves. Here we take a look at the key trends. By Dr. Thomas Fehn, General Manager Additive Manufacturing, Trumpf.

3D printing is on everyone’s lips, but the term has come to mean very different things to different people – or perhaps it always did. In the case of metal 3D printing, new methods seem to be taking root on an almost annual basis. The idea of constructing parts layer by layer in a powder bed has inspired numerous engineers and developers. Three methods that have already become well established are laser metal fusion (LMF), electron beam melting and binder jetting. They share the limelight with the nozzle-based method of laser metal deposition (LMD) – another additive manufacturing (AM) process – as well as wire-based methods that are also classified as LMD. Measured by market share, LMF and LMD are currently the top AM methods for producing metal parts. But ask “What’s the best method for me?”, and there is unlikely to be an easy answer, because each method has its ups and downs. For example, LMF may be the best option for producing parts with delicate structures at the highest level of quality, but binder jetting can do the job between 10 and a hundred times faster.

If 3D printing were a human being, it would arguably be a gifted 17-year-old. The broad strokes of the teenager’s personality and talents are already visible. The parents can hazard a guess at which direction their offspring is likely to take but, however much the teenager tries to act cool, there is still much they need to learn. Yet so much has already been achieved: the child has learned to walk and talk, read and do math. They have already done their first part-time job and been praised for their efforts, and now they are busy cramming for their high school diploma. There’s something in the air, a sense of freedom and independence, a new dawn.

3D printing is at a similar stage. Engineers and universities are continuing to probe and develop new ways of using the technology. Yet 3D printers have also been in fully fledged industrial use for many years, especially in pioneering sectors such as the aerospace industry.

The teething troubles that dogged it in the early stages – especially with regard to the reproducibility and robustness of the process – have been left behind, conquered by the machine-makers’ skills. 3D printers are gaining ground on the shop floor and ready for industrial use.

More and more business people see the technology making inroads into their industry and are seriously considering jumping on board before their competitors take the plunge. But what are the key trends they should take into account before making their decision?

The Pros And Cons Of Multiple Lasers

The first thing to consider is the build chamber. In principle, it’s true that the more lasers you have in a 3D printer, the faster you can build parts.

This simple equation has fuelled the commercialisation of multi-laser machines with two, three or even more lasers. Unfortunately, however, it’s not that simple, because there are all sorts of other factors that play a role, too. One of the keys to boosting the productivity of 3D printing is to find the optimum combination of scan field, scan speed, temperature adjustment, temperature field, build speed, and gas flow in the work area. The number of lasers and their power output is just one factor among many – though it is certainly one of the most expensive of all the factors involved.

In some cases, a fourth laser can increase the cost of the system by 25 percent while only increasing productivity by a decidedly modest two percent. Often it can be more profitable to start with seemingly less trendy components of the machine such as the build chamber heating system. A smart heating concept is worth its weight in gold because it keeps the printing process stable and increases overall productivity.

Some multi-laser machines with large build chambers promise to speed up the job of producing bulky parts with the argument that two lasers can build the rear portion of the part while the others focus on the front. That also seems sensible at first glance. But the crucial question is what happens in borderline areas. If the lasers’ scan areas are too far apart – in other words if there is not enough overlap between their work areas – then the part ends up with non-homogenous sections and ugly seams. During use, these often mutate into unwanted, yet effectively predetermined, breaking points. What this comes down to is that you can’t identify a highly productive 3D printer by the number of lasers it has, but only by its overall design.

Another aspect of the trend toward multiple elements is the idea of combining 3D printing with other machining methods in a single machine, for example with milling and drilling. Unfortunately, that typically ends up transforming the unquestionable marvels of 3D printing into an annoying drag on the other built-in processes. The reality is that the expensive, integrated milling cutter spends half the day waiting around idly for the 3D printer to reach a certain stage in the build process. Then it leaps into action for two minutes, before returning to its slumber for the remainder of the day. No production planner with any sense would install a high-end milling machine on the shop floor if it was hardly ever going to be used.

Right now – and even in the longer term – the difference in processing speeds between 3D printing and traditional methods is simply too great to offer any good reason for combining them in the same machine. That is no longer the case for other additive manufacturing methods, however, such as laser metal deposition.

A Broader Perspective

However important it may be to ask “How many lasers does the part need?”, it brings into focus a perspective that has traditionally, and understandably, been very narrow. For years, everyone was fixated on the build chamber. Just like with any new method, engineers initially focused on how they could get the process under control and make it faster. And they succeeded: Over the past five years, they have managed to increase the productivity of the LMF process by a factor of three – a truly remarkable achievement in such a short space of time, and a trend that is likely to continue for some time to come.

But the time has now come to adopt a wider perspective by focusing on the upstream and downstream stages of the process. These include unpacking the powder, refilling the machine, sieving the powder and checking it is mixed correctly, as well as blowing or shaking off excess powder, removing parts from the build plate, removing any supports they may contain, and carrying out finishing work on the surface. That’s where some of the greatest potential lies to accelerate and possibly automate individual steps, for example through powder management.

An automatic, self-contained powder handling system is also an appropriate response to occupational health and safety issues, which play a bigger role in the broader industrial environment than they used to. The problem here lies in the metal powder itself, which poses a health risk and should not, under any circumstances, be inhaled. Currently, however, only the biggest companies are opting for the most complete automation solutions for production integration.

In contrast, traditional job shops generally prefer to operate their 3D printer in isolation, rather than incorporating it directly in other production processes.

But however big or small their business, all 3D aficionados have a shared enthusiasm for good software. New concepts are opening the door to a self-contained software process chain without any frustrating interfaces – a chain that stretches from CAD data modelling right through to finishing work.

Apropos these post-processing stages: the supports required by the first generation of 3D parts once formed a magnificent bridge into the realm of this exciting new technology. They still have their uses today, but industrial-scale deployment has revealed their drawbacks by highlighting the increased cost and effort required during post-processing. This realisation is a great example of what industry needs right now: new ideas that cater specifically to 3D.

3D Thinking

The visionary power of 3D printing has always stemmed from the design freedom it offers. Parts can be formed exclusively on the basis of their functionality – and nothing else. Yet the greatest advantage of 3D printing is, at the same time, its greatest challenge. One of the toughest tasks design engineers face is how to rethink existing parts and leave old conventions behind. Most part developers have learned to base their designs on the intended machining process, and in doing so they have assimilated a number of what they considered to be ‘golden rules,’ for example “You can’t drill around a corner”, “You can’t cast a cavity”, and so on.

Particularly in the early days of the 3D revolution, design engineers struggled to liberate themselves from this traditional mode of thinking. Many 3D printed parts greatly resembled their conventional counterparts. But now things have changed. More and more universities and apprenticeship schemes are teaching budding designers to think free form, with no inhibitions concerning the production process. Now the first of this new generation are graduating and looking for jobs.

Equally, some suppliers of 3D printing technologies responded quickly to the huge demand they saw in this area and began supporting their customers with training courses in free-form design. Unlimited design freedom is increasingly becoming a core component of training courses, especially in Germany and Switzerland. China, too, has seen which way the wind is blowing and is teaching its design engineers accordingly. The new generation of designers are likely to make fundamental changes to the shapes and forms of future parts.

At the same time, on the software front, design and simulation programs are improving all the time and automatically suggesting 3D-specific design options. All this will give industrial 3D printing even more of a boost – and that prompts the question of why the laser should only be melting metal.

Beyond Metal

Material diversity – a long underrated argument in the 3D printing debate – is now emerging as one of its most decisive strengths. Both LMF and binder jetting offer levels of flexibility in this respect that are quite simply beyond the scope of other methods. A huge array of metal powders are now commercially available. Users worldwide can acquire them quickly and easily, mixing them together to meet specific requirements. They include a class known as Inconel alloys, which can easily withstand temperatures in excess of 1,000 degrees Celsius in turbine blades. Equally impressive are the special alloys that allow parts to withstand extreme bending – alloys that can only be processed by 3D printers.

One of the key trends in 3D printing involves new functional materials that go beyond metals, because laser beams are also perfectly capable of melting other materials. Metallic glasses are one example: In the near future, we are likely to see high-grade optical components and mirrors coming out of 3D printers. Meanwhile, developers are currently working on ways to get ceramic powder into 3D printers – another material that is prompting a great deal of interest.

You Can Do It

The more sectors we see taking the plunge into 3D printing with their industry-specific requirements, the greater the variety of machines and production concepts that are likely to emerge.

Something that is good enough to meet the stringent quality standards of the aerospace industry is likely to be far too over-the-top for a moldmaker’s needs. This kind of differentiation is also compounded by the increasing wealth of available materials. Much of the road ahead is already clearly signposted, but there are bound to be a few surprises, too.

So here we have our 17-year-old, a gifted teenager striding proudly and boldly into the world of industry. The parents of 3D printing can finally sit back and relax, safe in the knowledge that their teenage prodigy can take it from here.

 

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TRUMPF Completes Acquisition Of Philips Photonics

TRUMPF Completes Acquisition Of Philips Photonics

High-tech company TRUMPF has completed the acquisition of the photonics business from Philips. The acquisition will establish a new business division called TRUMPF Photonic Components, which is headed up by Lutz Aschke and Joseph Pankert. Lutz Aschke has been CFO of Laser Technology at the TRUMPF Group since 2016, while Joseph Pankert has been General Manager of Philips Photonics since 2009.

Through the acquisition, TRUMPF will gain access to a new market segment that will complement its existing high-power diode laser business. Philips Photonics’ laser diodes are used in smartphones, in digital data transfer applications and in sensors for autonomous driving.

Founded in 2000, Photonics GmbH has around 280 employees and is headquartered in Ulm, where it manufactures laser diodes in a dedicated production plant. Now, it is set to continue growing as part of TRUMPF, an innovative high-tech company with strong product development expertise.

In the fiscal year 2017/18, TRUMPF invested almost 340 million euros in research and development and posted a ratio of R&D expenditure to sales of 9.5 percent.

With the VCSEL (vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser) laser diode, the light is emitted perpendicular to the plane of the semiconductor chip, in contrast to the edge-emitting laser diode, where the light exits at one or two edges of the chip. VCSEL diodes are inexpensive to manufacture.

 

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3D Printing Improves Tool And Mold Making

3D Printing Improves Tool And Mold Making

One of the many benefits of additive manufacturing is the ability to make tools with near-net-shape cooling. Tools manufactured in this way dissipate the heat generated during the production process directly at its source. This reduces cycle time and improves the quality of the fabricated parts.

Producing parts by injection molding or die casting generates heat. To dissipate this heat, manufacturers equip the molds with cooling channels that help keep temperatures as stable as possible to prevent distortion of the part and similar problems. Conventional methods such as milling, however, soon reach their limits when it comes to creating these channels. “The difficulties are particularly evident with more complex shapes: we can’t get the drill into all the right places because we can’t drill around corners!” said Marc Dimter, a TRUMPF industry sector manager who is responsible for tool and mold making. In contrast, 3D printers build up the mold layer by layer, enabling the construction of cooling channels that run almost parallel to the tool wall. The biggest benefit is the reduction in cycle time that stems from faster cooling of the tool. In many cases, quality also improves because parts are less prone to distortion. What’s more, faster cooling results in more homogenous material properties in both injection molding and die casting, ultimately making parts more resilient.

Despite these advantages, German toolmakers have been slow to adopt additive manufacturing technologies. “Many companies lack the necessary expertise and are unwilling to make the investment,” said Christoph Dörr, who also works at TRUMPF as an industry sector manager for the tool and mold making industry. He notes that US companies that supply their molds to Europe have already built up a strong lead.

TRUMPF’s plug and play design of its TruPrint 1000 3D printer system—an entry-level model, is easy to install and operate, and it is particularly suitable for small injection mold inserts such as those used for plastic connectors in the electronics industry. “We’re hoping to inspire toolmakers to exploit the huge potential of 3D printing. That’s why we also offer them training in 3D design,” says Dörr.

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The Future Of Manufacturing Lies In Transparency And Connectivity

The Future Of Manufacturing Lies In Transparency And Connectivity

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with Wong Seng Yeow, Business Development Manager at TRUMPF regarding current trends in the metrology and manufacturing industry.

  1. Could you provide us with an overview of the current trends regarding the manufacturing industry?

The manufacturing industry has evolved significantly over time – from steam engines to mass production with electricity, then automation and in recent years Industry 4.0. The latest trend may be described as the digital networking of manufacturing technology with big data and analytics, autonomous robots, Internet of Things, etc. Sometimes known as the fourth industrial revolution, it signifies the combination of traditional industrial practices with digital technology.

A key driving force for Industry 4.0 applications is the increased transparency and flexibility for the manufacturing industry. In the model of a Smart Factory production line, companies may analyse and respond optimally to fluctuations in production capacity and factory utilisation. Flexible production layouts allow them to deal with increasingly individualised products and reduced batch sizes, coupled with the possibility of reducing costs through increase in the degree of automation and improved efficiency. Another advantage is production stability through the adoption of predictive maintenance. Self-monitoring and regular evaluation of machines helps in preventive maintenance which leads to increased productivity and quality.  In cases of machine breakdowns, remote servicing may be done at significantly lower cost.

In a nutshell, the trend toward Industry 4.0 enables digitally managed product assembly, inventory management, resources management and service maintenance. Ideally, human intervention will be considerably reduced as processes will be largely managed and performed with artificial intelligence.

  1. With increasing digitalisation, how has TRUMPF kept up with these trends to remain competitive?

Amidst challenging business environment, TRUMPF has always managed to rise above its competition by upholding one of the company’s guiding principles “Courage to transform”. From the development of plasma cutters to EUV laser, this notion has played an integral role in empowering the company to take courageous, transformative decisions over the past decades. In the same vein, it sets the right framework for an effective digital transformation.

Over the years, digitalisation has already permeated many areas of our business. An example of this trend is the conceptualisation of TruConnect, TRUMPF Machine Tool’s advanced range of solutions for connected sheet metal fabrication, comprising of hardware, software and services. The suite of products lays the foundation for production facilities to streamline control with minimal human intervention. Within TruConnect, key products such as TruTops Fab software are testaments to TRUMPF’s dedication to commercialise solutions based on its digital ambition. They are our answers to customers’ rising expectations of quality as they struggle with diminishing batch sizes, fast delivery times and low prices.

  1. What are the main challenges faced by this industry in Asia?

Key challenges for digitalisation of the manufacturing industry in Asia include inadequate infrastructural readiness, awareness and knowledge competency.

In mature markets such as Europe, the knowledge and infrastructure required to reap the benefits of technology are present. However, in regions such as Southeast Asia, the extent of adoption of new technologies is limited as information technology infrastructure is relatively underdeveloped in emerging markets such as Myanmar.

Digitalization might still be a foreign topic to some companies as well as the potential advantages that follows, such as achieving operational transparency through data analytics. To the less-informed, digital transformation is a process which translates into unsavoury repercussions such as job displacement.

The unwillingness to embrace digitalisation also stems from the fact that employees are not sufficiently trained and equipped with the necessary knowledge. Without fully appreciating the advantages of digitalisation, decision makers will not be willing to incur cost to train employees with the required skillset means placing additional strain on their tight budgets.

  1. How can they be overcome?

Adoption of Industry 4.0 applications in Asia can be successfully implemented when the government, local companies and key industry leaders such as TRUMPF work together.

On the part of local manufacturing companies, it is first important to implement the digital strategy from top down. Decision makers should proactively analyse the process, tools and benefits of digitalisation. It is also crucial to address the unfounded insecurity of employees who have concerns about being replaced by new technology. In this regard, companies may seize the chance to train its labour force to be digitally-skilled, thereby enabling them to handle higher level processes. With a supportive workforce, companies can achieve a smooth end-to-end integration of their data and operational process.

As a market leader in the manufacturing industry, TRUMPF intends to continue empowering manufacturing companies in their digitalisation journey by offering solutions and services which suit their various needs. For instance, TRUMPF is committed to develop the South East Asian industry by educating manufacturers in the region on digitalisation through the TruConnect solution. Advance production-planning softwares and Smart Factory consultancy services are designed to support customers in their digitalisation journey through a step-by-step approach – first assessing existing manufacturing layout, identifying bottlenecks and challenges, then proposing technology solutions to optimise manufacturing processes and operations. That said, digitalisation should not be perceived as a one-time process but as a continuous transformation which should be sustained.

Naturally, TRUMPF also works closely with government agencies such as the Singapore Economic Development Board to develop the market infrastructure and constantly nurture companies in the region.

  1. Moving forward, where do you think the industry is headed in the next 5 to 10 years?

Over the next years, market condition will be increasingly difficult as companies compete not only on price but on efficiency as well. In such a market environment, a company’s success will depend on its courage to transform. As digitalisation allows the creation of new businesses and growth opportunities, a shift in dynamics can be expected as the industry consolidates – only players who are able to successfully digitalise will survive and thrive.

The future of manufacturing lies in transparency and connectivity. For TRUMPF, the majority of sales is still expected to come from machinery, but software and digital services will play an increasingly significant role. With an eye on growing our market share, we will continue to be the leading provider of new digital solutions in the manufacturing industry.

 

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