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Globaldata: ASEAN Vehicle Sales Down By 28 Percent In 2020

Globaldata: ASEAN Vehicle Sales Down By 28 Percent In 2020

The sales of new vehicles in Southeast Asia’s six largest markets (Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore) combined are estimated to have declined by 28.5 percent to 2,468,613 units in 2020, according to GlobalData.

David Leggett, Automotive Analyst at GlobalData, says: “The annual picture shows much sharper declines earlier in the year, including a 24 percent drop in the third quarter and a 66 percent plunge in the second quarter, when economic activity across the region was severely disrupted by business and social lockdowns put in place to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some markets in the region, such as Thailand, began to stabilise in the fourth quarter while sales in Malaysia and Vietnam began to rebound.”

GlobalData’s analysis shows the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) largest vehicle market in 2020 was Thailand, despite a more than 21 percent sales decline to 792,146 units while Indonesia slipped into second place after sales fell by over 48 percent to 532,027 units – making it the region’s worst-performing market last year. Malaysia was a close third, with sales down by just over 12 percent at 529,434 units.

Mr Leggett concludes: “While significant economic restrictions remain in place across the region, including a ban on foreign tourist arrivals, which continues to have a devastating effect on the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors, domestic economic activity has begun to recover – helped by low interest rates and fiscal stimulus measures introduced by national governments.

“Exports also enjoyed a moderate rebound towards the end of last year, helped by strong demand from China, but renewed lockdowns in the region and in numerous markets around the world in response to a resurgent COVID-19 have dampened sentiment in recent weeks.”

 

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Winning, In More Ways Than One

Winning, In More Ways Than One

The carmaker Henry Ford once said that, “Auto racing began five minutes after the second car was built.” Adaptability and automobiles go hand-in-hand, but precision parts manufacturer Don Schumacher Motorsports (DSM) has taken this idea into pole position. The company is winning on the racetrack, was awarded the ISO 9001:2015 and has expanded into industries as diverse as aerospace and defense — all within the last two years. But it needs the right machine tools to support these objectives, which is why it turned to Sandvik Coromant.

In September, Matt Hagan gave Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) its 350th victory in the final round of the Lucas Oil National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Summernationals at the Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Indiana, US.

Hagan raced to victory in his drag racer, or Funny Car, which can race from zero to 330 miles per hour in less than 3.7 seconds. His win also happened to coincide with the 50th anniversary of company founder Don Schumacher’s own legendary victory at Indianapolis in 1970.

Today, DSR has cemented its position as one of motorsports’ elite teams. All four of DSR’s Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat drivers have claimed at least two victories throughout the nine races that have taken place in 2020, so far. DSR is the only team in NHRA history to have gone undefeated for 12 consecutive races in a single category, dating back to October 2019. Previously, DSR set the consecutive win record in a single class at 10 races during the 2017 season with the same line-up of drivers.

Meanwhile, DSR has also been notching-up victories behind the scenes, specifically at DSM Precision MFG, also located in Brownsburg. A recent milestone was awarded in 2018, when the company acquired the ISO 9001:2015 certification in recognition of its quality management and sustainability initiatives. The benchmark also demonstrates that the company’s operations fit-in with United Nations (UN) sustainability goals.

The shop’s other win has been a victory against the challenges of COVID-19, of sorts. In just two years, the machine shop — founded in 2005 solely to support the company’s drag race program — has successfully diversified into a range of new sectors. They include defense, aerospace and commercial applications.

Diversification is a real goal for manufacturers in 2020. Pricewaterhouse Coopers’ (PwC) recent COVID-19: What it means for industrial manufacturing recommends that companies expand into new industries, and take advantage of fresh revenue streams, either because they are forced to by defunct markets or because they simply spot an opportunity.

Now, says Chad Osier, Vice President at DSM, the Brownsburg machine shop is the only of its kind in the Midwest that offers such a high degree of precision engineering, for such a wide a range of sectors.

“We’re all racers at heart,” explains Osier. “Racers are engineers, and precision engineering extends to everything we do. This expertise and the right tools allow us to hit the required levels of precision and quality when building nitro blocks for drag racing that produce 11,000 horsepower.

“Now we can bring that same precision to bear on competitive quality and scalable solutions for the defence, aerospace, commercial, motorsports and automotive industries.”

Henry Ford would surely be proud. But how has DSM achieved all of this in such a short time, and what can other manufacturers learn from it? As it turns out, a large part of the answer lies in DSM’s choice of machine tools. The name of their chosen tooling partner has adorned the side of Hagan’s Funny Car since the 2017 racing season, and can now be seen on the Top Fuel dragster raced by Hagan’s teammate, Tony Schumacher — son of Don Schumacher. The sponsor is Sandvik Coromant, co-branded with the machine manufacturer Okuma America.

“We’re obviously in the business of racing,” says Osier, “but we are also in the business of making profit. Tool wear is a big part of that. We want to make sure we’re minimising as much waste and scrap as possible. The tooling and equipment we use from Sandvik Coromant goes hand-in-hand with how we operate.”

Racing to precision

DSM’s relationship with Sandvik Coromant goes back to 2012. Successful projects include helping the customer to move its production of aluminum engine blocks in-house. This has enabled it to produce more precise and better-performing components that win victories at events like the Gatornationals.

DSM then sought help from Sandvik Coromant with its objective to become, what Osier describes as, a “full-on kind of general engineering machine shop.” That is, one that can build project products ranging from small specialty fasteners and the right-mass nitro engine blocks, to bespoke aluminum parts for defense and aerospace. From rapid prototyping all the way to mass production.

“When relying on an outside partner for anything, there is a question of trust,” says Osier. “Sandvik Coromant has consistent products that are high quality and long-lasting. It offers the engineering support to help us tackle any project.”

Brian Flores, Channel Manager for the Eastern United States at Sandvik Coromant, agrees: “We help DSM in several ways, from supporting the local sales engineers to helping DSM’s automotive specialists and process improvement experts. That includes working closely with its team of specialist programmers to develop precision parts like piston heads or engine blocks out of tough-to-machine solid aluminum billets.”

“These machining processes are very complex,” explains Flores. “Sandvik Coromant’s tooling is used in the lathes and mills we use, made by Okuma America, which allow us to get the machined parts up to the necessary quality standards. This is where harder-wearing tools prove critical.”

For these applications, DSM relies on tools like the CoroMill 390 shoulder milling cutters designed for versatility, with ramping capability for mixed production. With light-cutting insert geometries, the high-performance CoroMill 390 is designed for low cutting forces and vibration-free machining, for secure milling with all materials.

These properties are particularly advantageous when machining aluminum, which has a tendency to move if aggressive, deep radial cuts are used at high speeds — because of the high stress levels of the material. Sandvik Coromant works extensively with DSM’s CAD designers.

“It really comes down to quality and attention to detail, whether it’s a drawing for an engine block or an aerospace part,” says Osier. “That’s what ensures we have the engineering expertise to deliver the quality that the aerospace industry needs. We also need the right equipment and tools to do that.”

Minimising scrap

That’s the quality and precision taken care of, but what about sustainability? To meet the ISO 9001:2015 standard, a company must demonstrate its capabilities in two major areas. First, its ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.

Second is enhancing customer satisfaction by applying the system. For the shop floor, this is inherently linked to DSM’s quality management system, but it also equals sustainability.

For this, DSM also makes use of the CoroMill 790 cutter for ISO N materials, designed for high precision work. The CoroMill 790 cutter is a “super remover” for which effective chip removal is integral to machining product quality.

“We look for tools that will produce consistent and repeatable parts, and minimise our scrap and our cycle time,” explains Osier. “So, the biggest thing I get on sustainability is how we’re able to maximise our output and reduce our material scrap in automated processes.”

“This is a real challenge when manufacturing aluminum racing engines,” Flores adds. “The amount of material removed is really quite amazing. It requires very intense and specific programming

techniques and paths. That’s where I believe Sandvik Coromant really shines, in helping DSM to find the most productive way to approach these parts.”

As a high-tech machine shop, DSM understands that tool wear goes beyond the tools and includes effective monitoring to use them to their fullest.

To achieve this, DSM uses Sandvik Coromant’s CoroPlus Machining Insights platform, an expansion of the company’s CoroPlus suite of connectivity software. The platform is designed to give manufacturers greater visibility of CNC machine tools and machining processes. Furthermore, the shop was able to integrate the system seamlessly into its existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

“We are able to track the performance of the tooling, which is also important,” said Osier. “The tooling and equipment work hand-in-hand with our automation and technology.

Eyes ahead

This high-tech approach doesn’t extend only to tooling but also to training. Since 2016, Sandvik Coromant has operated a 5,000 square foot dedicated training facility on DSM’s shop floor, which symbolises the relationship between the two companies. Trainees gain hands-on experience of modern machining, tools and techniques and DSM hosts Sandvik Coromant’s customers in the regional area.

“It’s an excellent partnership and mutually beneficial for both companies — including as we reach further into the aerospace, automotive and defense industries,” says Osier. “It has also exposed Sandvik Coromant to our own large Tier 1 customers so they can experience first-hand the benefits and value of Sandvik Coromant products.”

Osier estimates that DSM’s production is now divided roughly 50-50 between its racing obligations and its general precision engineering contracts. The manufacturer will continue to build on this going forward, including investing in 3D metal printers. It also plans to expand its training and education center into new industries beyond racing and automotive. This includes adapting its training facilities for COVID-19 and exploring the possibilities of Webex conferences or videos.

“We’re always looking for new ways to satisfy our customers and sponsors,” says Osier. “The ISO 9001:2015 accreditation has really opened doors for us and, going forward, we will take this further by acquiring the AS9100 standardised quality management system for the aerospace industry. This is very much an extension of the ISO 9001:2015, in terms of sustainability and is made possible by Sandvik Coromant’s continued support.”

“Sandvik Coromant has consistent products that are at the top of the market and it offers the engineering support to allow us to tackle any project,” says Osier.

“Precision and quality are critical in everything we do, and we use these Sandvik Coromant tools to meet those precision needs, both in the motorsports industry and the rest of the industries we work in,” explains Osier. “Their high quality and long-lasting tools and support deliver sustainability for us. Without that, we can’t meet our obligations to our customers.”

Auto racing may have begun five minutes after the second car was built. But, with its continuing entrepreneurial flair, the addition of ISO 9001:2005, and Sandvik Coromant’s tooling solutions, it looks as if DSM will continue leading the race in a range of industries for many years to come.

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GlobalData: Thailand Automotive Production And Domestic Sales To Revive In 2021

GlobalData: Thailand Automotive Production And Domestic Sales To Revive In 2021

The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) expects domestic car sales to decline by 5.3 percent in 2021, after a 21.4 percent slump in the previous year. Following this news, Bakar Sadik Agwan, Senior Automotive Consulting Analyst at GlobalData, offers his view:

“Thailand automotive production output and domestic sales followed downward trend in 2020. In line with GlobalData’s estimates, the country’s production output declined by 29.14 percent to 1.43 million units. The domestic sales also remained low with a 21.4 percent decline to 792K units compared to 2019. 2020 remained a bumpy ride for the Thailand auto industry, with January-July sales slipping down to 2008 levels and the auto production witnessing y-o-y decline for straight 10 months of the year. However, November and December showed signs of revival with y-o-y production and sales witnessing an increase, which is attributed to new car launches by automakers, attractive discounts and promotion campaigns and the financial stimulus by the government.

“Weak domestic and overseas demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic, major supply chain disruptions affecting production, massive slowdown in tourism sector, subdued economic growth and negative consumer sentiments remained major factors behind the production and sales de-growth in 2020. Some of these factors may further impact the production and sales in 2021 along with second wave of COVID-19 in domestic and some export markets, and ongoing chips shortages in the picture. FTI expects the vehicle production to reach 1.5 million units in 2021, marginally up compared to 2020. Thailand Board of Investment (BOI)’s new investment privileges and tax breaks to manufacturers are expected to support automotive production.

“Domestic demand in Thailand is anticipated to witness revival in 2021. However, volumes are expected to remain below 2020 levels. The government’s economic stimulus measures, growth in tourism, investment in infrastructure projects and government push for EV adoption are expected to boost automotive sales and support FTI’s projection of 750K vehicles sales in 2021, which will be a 5.3 percent decline y-o-y but significant improvement compared to 21.4 percent decline in 2020.”

 

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Taking Your Tool Management To The Next Level

Taking Your Tool Management to the Next Level

MAPAL takes over tool management at Hitachi Automotive Systems Group in Poland, Mexico, and Turkey.

For manufacturing companies, procuring and preparing tools requires a great deal of time and effort that demands both capacity and competence. For that reason, the Hitachi Automotive Systems Group has entrusted tool management for the entire brake manufacturing process at three of its locations—in Mexico, Turkey and Poland—to MAPAL. By doing so, the company benefits not only from tool management but also from the opportunities provided by digital connectivity. 

Chassis Brakes International has been part of Hitachi Automotive Systems since 2019. The acquisition made Hitachi Automotive Systems one of the world’s largest brake manufacturers. “In Hitachi Automotive Systems’s Brake Business Unit , we manufacture disc brakes, drum brakes, electric parking brakes and rotors,” says Hubert Klehenz, the company’s global sourcing director for braking systems. The products are used in cars, light commercial vehicles and two-wheeled vehicles.

At its three factories in Mexico, Poland and Turkey, Hitachi Automotive Systems Group primarily manufactures disc and drum brakes. “We have been successfully working with the Turkish factory in Bursa for 13 years,” recalls Frank Stäbler, Head of Tool Management Services at MAPAL. Over time, the two companies expanded their collaboration. “Following our work at the Turkish factory, Hitachi Automotive Systems Group entrusted us with the tool management for its facility in Wrocław, Poland,” says Stäbler. Their most recent partnership is in Querétaro, Mexico. In 2017, when it was still operating as Chassis Brakes International, the company opened a completely new plant there.

Mastering Global Challenges with Worldwide On-site Support

Hubert Klehenz’s team was looking for a partner company that would be able to take over complete responsibility for tools at the plant in Mexico. “In order to deal with global challenges and global projects, we need a tool-management provider that can support us worldwide,” says Klehenz. Brake manufacturer’s main concern was finding a provider to work to the same standards as they themselves did – and deliver at a consistently high quality.

“Brakes are among the most critical safety features of every vehicle, and they need to operate perfectly under all circumstances,” Klehenz points out. In order to meet the high quality, safety and reliability requirements, brake manufacturers machine each part with the greatest care. “We receive the unfinished parts for brackets and brake calipers made of aluminium and cast-iron and take care of the entire machining and assembly process.”

In doing this, Hitachi Automotive Systems Group needs to eliminate all conceivable potential errors in order to ensure that none of their products are faulty. This approach is used across the board in the automobile industry and is the reason that the brakes in modern cars almost never fail. However, it does lead to increasing expenditure in terms of the equipment and tools used in brake manufacturing. Only components and processes that have been confirmed to rule out failures are used.

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AM Heralding New Chapter For Fluid Flow Applications

AM Heralding New Chapter For Fluid Flow Applications

Making the most of additive manufacturing (AM) is not only about installing the technology. As with anything, the deeper the knowledge of the process, the more one can get out of it and the more applications can be developed. AM experts and application engineers are thus in a unique position, from which they can innovate and solve many challenges associated with traditional manufacturing.

Perhaps no area illustrates this dynamic better than fluid flow applications, which exist across many industries that are driving adoption of AM: from automotive and motorsports, to aerospace, energy and beyond. For years, our knowledge of fluid dynamics has gone beyond what we’ve been able to achieve using conventional manufacturing processes. Now, additive manufacturing is changing this reality, enabling engineers to produce optimised designs that would have previously been impossible to make.

Thanks to AM, it is now possible to create fluid flow systems that are superior in terms of performance, efficiency and reliability. In a new, free to download eBook, 3D Systems explores applications of its AM technologies for fluid flow systems, highlighting real and extensive benefits in terms of everything from performance to weight reduction.

Bed of 3D printed fuel nozzle

Untethering design

Many of the benefits of additive manufacturing for fluid flow applications are related to design. Compared to subtractive manufacturing, AM offers an exceptional level of design freedom, allowing for the creation of parts with complex internal geometries and features. In short, this means that we can now conceive of new and better designs for fluid flow applications.

CERN, the Switzerland-based European organisation that operates the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest particle collider (and the world’s largest machine), partnered with 3D Systems’ Application Innovation Group (AIG) to redesign and manufacture titanium cool-bars for LHC experiments. AM enabled the partners to overcome several challenges associated with the parts, which are used to cool the detection area to -40 deg C to preserve particle reactions for study.

CERN and 3D Systems designed 3D printed cool-bars for the LHCb assembly

Chief among the challenges was space: the cool-bars had to fit into a limited space while still dissipating enough heat. They had to achieve temperature uniformity over the length of a photo-detection strip, which measures 140 meters in length and less than 2 mm in width. All while meeting flatness specifications for detector efficiency and resolution.

Based on these requirements, the partners conceived of the perfect part design. “This design was so beautiful, but it was not producible in the usual ways,” explained Antonio Pellegrino, a leader on the LHCb SciFi Tracker project at CERN.

Using Direct Metal Printing (DMP), 3D Systems’ AIG and CERN were able to manufacture more than 300 units of the titanium cool-bars, each of which met the necessary specifications, including 0.25 mm wall thicknesses (to improve heat dissipation), leak tightness and flatness with a precision of 50 microns. The full case study can be found here.

 

Flowing across industry segments

A lamella heat exchanger design

The benefits of AM in fluid flow systems extend well beyond CERN, from heat exchangers, to integrated cooling, to propulsion systems and fuel injectors, to fluid manifolds and all the way to microfluidics. AM is enabling improved efficiency for all these fluid flow applications, in more ways than one.

On the one hand, additive manufacturing can enable the production of more lightweight structures thanks to optimised geometries. This ability is especially crucial in applications like propulsion systems and fuel injectors, where weight is a critical factor and can drive up operating costs.

In designing a liquid rocket engine injector, for example, the German Space Center (DLR), in cooperation with the 3D Systems Customer Innovation Center, was able to consolidate 30 components into a single part, which resulted in a final weight reduction of 10 percent. On top of that, the consolidated design eliminated points of failure that existed in the original system, improving overall system performance. The 3D printed fuel injector also integrated certain features, like pressure and temperature sensor channels, which resulted in superior cooling and combustion performance. These performance-enhancing features were enabled by 3D Systems’ DMP technology.

A recent test fire by the DLR

“Based on the success of space-related initiatives involving DMP, we thought that 3D Systems was perfectly suited for providing the design-for-manufacturing aspects of the injector head, with an eye on new possibilities for sensor integration and fuel and coolant distribution,” explained Markus Kuhn, who is managing the injector head project at DLR.

 

A simply better flow

AM can also improve the efficiency of fluid flow applications by directly improving on fluid dynamics. Most conventional manufacturing processes favor designs with sharp corners, which can be problematic, as fluid moving through internal channels can become trapped in stagnant zones. This, in turn, leads to pressure loss and reduces efficiency. Design for AM can eliminate these troublesome design features and create internal channels that are optimised for fluid dynamics. These benefits can be seen most clearly in fluid manifolds in semiconductor machinery and microfluidic devices used in research labs.

Similarly, it is possible to design fluid flow systems with intentional turbulence to achieve peak cooling. In heat exchangers, for instance, built-in turbulence can increase thermal transfer, which can be useful in refrigeration appliances, energy generation and many other applications. Overall, AM enables engineers and fluid flow specialists to base designs off of fluid dynamics rather than on manufacturing limitations.

A 3D printed hydraulic manifold with optimised flow

To sum it up, additive manufacturing is changing the state of fluid flow applications for the better, offering improved manufacturability through part consolidation, superior efficiency through weight reduction and mixing efficiency, and better space utilisation. This is true in virtually all fluid dynamics areas, whether you are 3D printing metal cool-bars for the LHC, a fuel injector, or a plastic microfluidic device with tiny channels.

Still, the learning curve can be fairly steep, as it encompasses not only a new manufacturing process but also a whole new design mindset. Fortunately, the experts are on hand to ease the adoption of AM. Partners like 3D Systems can help end users to make the most out of 3D printing for fluid flow applications, through consulting, as well as through training and manufacturing services. The company says: “We help to discover where and how AM fits within an existing architecture, and advise on how to simplify the onboarding process.”

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PTG Opens £1.6 Million Friction Stir Welding Research Centre

PTG Opens £1.6 Million Friction Stir Welding Research Centre

Precision Technologies Group (PTG) has announced the opening of a new £1.6 million friction stir welding research centre at its UK-based headquarters and machine tools manufacturing facility. Equipped with PTG Powerstir single-head gantry type and dual weld-head FSW machines, the new centre offers exciting opportunities for prototyping, product and child-part development, materials testing, production trials and low-volume production.

“Our FSW research centre has been established to assist manufacturers in developing new products and processes, as well as better understanding the immense capabilities that PTG Powerstir machines offer,” comments PTG regional sales director, Mark Curran. “By increasing their knowledge of the FSW process, we can also assist Tier 1 and Tier 2 automotive supply chain businesses in becoming more confident and proficient in tendering for manufacturing projects they may not have previously considered.

“With governments around the world setting increasingly ambitious targets for the wholesale switch to electric vehicles,” he adds, “now could be a particularly good time for organisations who have yet to embrace the advantages of friction stir welding for the production of components such as vehicle panels, skateboard chassis and battery cell housings, to get in touch with us.”

 

Ensuring a tight weld-flatness tolerance

PTG Powerstir dual weld-head FSW machines provide a stable welding process, owing to its ‘matched’ dual-force control systems and balanced upper and lower head welding parameters. This, in turn, minimises post-weld distortion and equips each welded assembly with an improved flatness tolerance when compared to existing conventional single-side FSW techniques.

 

Reduced wall thickness

“In addition to providing a state-of-the-art means of joining metals and achieving extremely high-strength results, it is also important to consider that in many instances, the use of friction stir welding also allows for reduced wall thickness – an important aspect in reducing vehicle weight,” says Mark Curran. “As the friction stir welding process generates very little heat, the crystalline structure of the metal remains unchanged, retaining its original strength. There is no need for inert gas, no need for heat-treating post weld, and no requirement for additional surface finishing.”

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Thailand BOI Introduces EV Package And Over 35 Billion Baht In Investments

Thailand BOI Introduces EV Package And Over 35 Billion Baht In Investments

The Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) has approved the roll out of a comprehensive set of incentives covering all major aspects of the Electric Vehicles (EV) supply chain, with a focus on Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), local production of critical parts, and the inclusion of commercial vehicles of all sizes as well as ships.

The board also approved 35.7 billion baht (US$1.1 billion) worth of large investment projects in several sectors.

“In line with the Government policy to promote electric vehicles across the board, and to answer the radical changes underway in the global car industry, the BOI today approved a package that will accelerate the development of EV production and related supply chain in Thailand, and allow the entire sector to move into higher gear,” said Ms Duangjai Asawachintachit, Secretary General of the BOI, after a board meeting chaired by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-ocha.

New Package For EV

The new promotion package, which replaces the first EV package which expired in 2018, covers a comprehensive range of electrical vehicles, namely passenger cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles, tricycles, and ships.

Incentive schemes for these different types of electric vehicles can be summarised as follows:

  • Four wheelers: Qualified projects with a total investment package worth at least 5 billion baht will be granted a 3-year tax holidays for PHEVs, but as for BEVs, an 8-year corporate income tax exemption period will be offered and will be extendable in case of R&D investment/expenditures.
  • Motorcycles, three-wheelers, buses and trucks: Qualified projects will be granted 3-year corporate income tax exemption, extendable if meeting additional requirements.
  • Electric-powered ship production projects, for vessels with less than 500 gross tonnage, will be eligible for eight years of corporate income tax exemption.

The BOI also approved to add four more types of EV parts in the list of critical parts, namely high voltage harness, reduction gear, battery cooling system and regenerative braking system. These four categories will all receive eight years corporate tax exemptions.

To promote local EV battery production, the BOI also approved additional incentives for the production of both battery modules and battery cells for the local market by granting a 90 percent reduction of import duties for two years on raw or essential materials not available locally.

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Walter Automobiltechnik Deploys Automated Quality Control Solutions From Creaform

Walter Automobiltechnik Deploys Automated Quality Control Solutions From Creaform

Creaform has installed a second robot-controlled measuring system at Walter Automobiltechnik GmbH (WAT) in Berlin, Germany. WAT is a system supplier of metal assemblies for the automotive industry. It focuses on complex welded assemblies such as motorcycle frames and engine mounts, with a great deal of its work including motorcycle frames, torsion struts and more for the BMW Group.

WAT recently landed the contract for development and series production of the engine mount for BMW’s new fully electric Mini Cooper SE. When the company needed to measure the vehicle’s complex tubular space frame, the decision fell on the MetraSCAN 3D-R, a powerful robot-mounted optical scanner that is Creaform’s automated quality control solution.

The WAT team uses MetraSCAN 3D-R for fully automated measurement of the complex tubular space frames with many connection points for peripheral equipment. 90 percent of the features were such that they could not be reworked, and they would immediately have caused the production line to stop if they were not made exactly to specification. Due to the high-temperature galvanizing required, the process required that many of these features had to be manually reworked. This means that qualitative safeguarding of the finished parts had to be conducted by carrying out 100 percent of the measurement of the series production within a given cycle time. A measurement report and 3D scan had to be saved for each frame, for traceability purposes.

Tommy Laukdrej, Head of Quality Assurance at WAT explained this: “We use two automated measuring cells with handling robots from Panasonic and the Creaform system, which consists of the MetraSCAN 3D-R scanner, the C-Track optical camera system, and the VXelements scanning software. We chose Polyworks from Duwe3d as the measurement evaluation software, because we have been using this software with success and complete satisfaction for over 10 years.”

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Double Coupling Lasts Longer: New Elastic Double Joint From Igus

Double Coupling Lasts Longer: New Elastic Double Joint From igus

Flexible housing material ensures that the ball stud is firmly enclosed and prevents dirt from penetrating into the bearing

Coupling joints are exposed to various types of loads, such as permanent vibrations, edge loads and high tensile forces and compressive strength. The demands on the material used are therefore extremely high. With the igubal GPZM coupling joint, the motion plastics specialist is now presenting a double joint that is not only lubrication-free and maintenance-free, but also 20 per cent more flexible than the conventional solution thanks to a new housing material. This firmly encloses the ball stud, prevents the penetration of dirt and increases the dependability of the moving application.

Spherical bearings made of tribologically optimised polymers are already used in many industries today, the agricultural industry as well as machine and plant construction amongst them. In the automotive industry alone, the variety of application areas is extremely large: from sensor connections, actuators, valve flaps, shift levers to turbochargers – almost any application of metallic coupling joints can also be implemented with the tribo-polymer version. Light weight, use at temperatures up to 300 degrees Celsius, corrosion resistance and long service life speak for themselves, as do the 40 per cent lower costs when using igubal coupling joints. They are maintenance-free due to the incorporated dry lubrication, no external lubricants are necessary. This also applies to the new GPZM double joint, which igus is currently presenting as part of its autumn innovations.

New material makes coupling joint more elastic

The double joint is extremely flexible and at the same time resilient. Tests in the 3,800 square metre igus laboratory showed a 25 per cent higher elasticity of the RN283 material compared to the standard material igumid G. The housing material ensures that the ball stud is tightly enclosed in the movement so that it is sealed against the ingress of dust and dirt. Liquefied dust was injected in the test; this contamination has no negative influence on the function due to the elastic material. The abrasion resistance of the metal ball studs was also tested in our own laboratory. The result convinced the igus designers: with a coefficient of wear that is 20 times better than polyamide, the new TPU material prevailed over polyamide and ensures significantly increased dependability in movement.

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Peak Productivity: SLM Solutions Launches 12-Laser Machine

Peak Productivity: SLM Solutions launches 12-Laser Machine

Selective Laser Melting pioneer SLM Solutions officially introduces its new SLM machine NXG XII 600, which is now available for commercial offer.

The highly anticipated machine is equipped with 12 lasers with 1 KW each and a square build envelope of 600x600x600 mm. NXG XII 600 is the fastest machine on the market, 20 times faster compared to a single laser machine[1] and equipped with innovative technical features like the zoom function to achieve highest productivity and reliability. It is designed to be used in serial production for high-volume applications as well as for printing large parts, which opens up new applications in the automotive and aerospace industries and paves the way to industrialised serial production.

The NXG XII 600 is the latest addition to SLM Solutions’ product portfolio and puts productivity on a whole new level, with 12 simultaneously operating lasers with 1 KW each, numerous technological innovations, and automated features. A radically improved use of laser time in the build process enables unrivaled build-up rates. The new machine was designed from scratch for serial production and features a whole new optic system, the most compact on the market. It enables large overlap and is based on a tailor-made laser scanning system to best fit the build area.  All 12 optics provide spot size definition via a double lens system called zoom function, enabling customers to choose between different spot sizes in the focal plane which boosts build-up rates to 1000 cc/h and more. Producing a higher yield of parts in a single build job thereby enables mass production at low cost-per-part.

Sam O’Leary, COO at SLM Solutions, is enthusiastic about the machine launch and underlines that a new era of manufacturing has started: “The NXG Xll 600 is a revolution in industrial manufacturing. Up until now, the limit had been considered to be that of a quad laser system – what we deliver here with 12kW of installed laser power is truly ground-breaking and a major step forward, not just for additive manufacturing, but for manufacturing in general.  The potential cost reduction and productivity gains that this machine offers you means for the first time in the history of additive manufacturing, you can have true serial production fully integrated into your supply chain.”

To facilitate the integration of the NXG XII 600 into factories and supply chains, several automated features like an automatic build cylinder exchange, automatic build start as well as an external preheating station and external depowder station are part of the solution.

To achieve homogeneous part properties all over the building platform, SLM Solutions has developed a new gas-flow setup along with an optimised chamber design and SLM Solutions’ patented and proven sinter-wall technology. Customers can also rely on the patented bi-directional recoating, which has been redesigned to be more compact and gas-flow optimised.

The NXG XII 600 features a robust machine design boasting a new thermal concept. This reduces drifts to a minimum and allows customers to print seamless parts stitched together with up to 12 lasers. Additionally, the machine comes with a brand-new UI concept focusing on the operator, which optimises the workflow and reduces training requirements. This once again underlines SLM Solutions’ focus on productivity, reliability, and safety.

The machine is available with two different powder handling options: a gravity based and a vacuum based solution, that both keep downtime between each build job to a minimum.

Machine Feature Overview

  • Build Envelope: 600x600x600 mm
  • 12 lasers with 1KW each
  • Zoom function
  • Integrated Scan Field Partitioning for even load distribution between all 12 lasers
  • Automatic build cylinder exchange
  • Automatic build start
  • External preheating station and
  • External depowder station
  • Lowest Production cost by reducing cost per part and overall build time

[1] Compared to SLM 280 Single Laser System

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