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TRUMPF Discusses Vietnam Metalworking Market Amid COVID-19

TRUMPF Discusses Vietnam Metalworking Market Amid COVID-19

Patrick Kemnitz of TRUMPF Vietnam talks about the impact of the ongoing pandemic in Vietnam’s metalworking sector, lessons learned, and strategies to adopt amid the ongoing crisis. Article by Stephen Las Marias.

Patrick Kemnitz

TRUMPF is one of the leading providers of machine tools and laser technology for industrial applications. The company has a strong presence in Southeast Asia through its numerous local subsidiaries. Since 2006, TRUMPF has also been represented in Vietnam, with offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The company has been expanding its local team and presence continuously, and has now grown to a team of more than 40 local employees.

TRUMPF Vietnam supports businesses with local sales, spare parts and service requirements, with the main purpose to be close to its customers. Its European-trained engineers are dedicated to install, inspect, maintain and repair machines locally as well as provide extensive trainings for customers operating the TRUMPF high-end technology in their manufacturing plants.

In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News, Patrick Kemnitz, General Director, TRUMPF Vietnam Co. Ltd, talks about the impact of the ongoing pandemic in Vietnam’s metalworking sector, lessons learned, and strategies to adopt amid the ongoing crisis.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON YOUR MARKET?

Patrick Kemnitz (PK): The metal fabrication industry was also impacted by the unforeseeable situation and consequences of the COVID-9 pandemic. 

However, the Vietnamese government has managed the spread of COVID-19 with immediate and very efficient measures. Due to this, the total number of cases since the beginning of 2020, compared to other countries, is on a low level. Now, it has been more than 44 days of no transmissions in the community. This has helped stabilize the economy in Vietnam!

With the latest figures, the Vietnamese GDP is expected to grow to around 2 percent in 2020, after reaching around 7 percent in previous years. The forecast for 2021 is around 6 percent and shows a fast recovery. That means the Vietnamese market is even in such hard times a growth market, during other economies are shrinking. 

Why this can happen? Companies have already amended their strategies. The COVID-19 pandemic made them question their existing supply chains and their sourcing strategy and this means not only companies in Vietnam. This is more a global topic and before COVID-19 the differences between U.S. and China regarding trade brought already dynamic into such consideration of factory movements or at least sourcing diversification.

As a result, especially in manufacturing sector in Vietnam and what we can see from TRUMPF side for the sheet metal market, more production is done and will be done in Vietnam. The demand for metal fabrication has increased in the past months.

In such situations also companies from U.S., China, Japan, India or Singapore are contacting TRUMPF in Vietnam to get contact to reliable manufacturers for sheet metal parts in Vietnam.

WHAT DO YOU THINK SHOULD MANUFACTURERS HAVE IMPLEMENTED BY NOW AS THEY RESUME PRODUCTION?

PK: Right now, it is a good time for manufacturers to realign their strategy. That means not only  preparing an outlook for the production requirements in next six to 12 months, but also being prepared for economic recovery.

The most important thing is to keep the skilled and trained workforce in their factories. The people with their knowledge are the most important factor for a fast ramp-up or for a sustainable change program. Flexible working models can help in current times.

The second thing is production capacity. If manufacturers in Vietnam want to make a next step with their factory and bring in new production jobs especially from foreign countries, then they are facing usually the so called “chicken and egg” problem. Do they need to have the machines first or can they wait to receive the order confirmation?

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Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project FutureAM Gets Metallic 3D Printing In Shape For Industrial Use

Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project futureAM Gets Metallic 3D Printing In Shape For Industrial Use

Accelerating the additive production of metal components by at least a factor of 10: With this goal in mind, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft launched the lighthouse project “futureAM – Next Generation Additive Manufacturing” in 2017. As the project ends in November 2020, six Fraunhofer institutes have made technological leaps forward in systems engineering, materials and process control as well as end-to-end digitalisation, thus increasing the performance and cost-effectiveness of metal-based additive manufacturing along the entire process chain.

On the one hand, the futureAM partners have focused on integrating the digital and physical value chain from incoming orders to the finished metallic 3D printed component and, on the other, on making a leap forward into a new technology generation of additive manufacturing. The digital platform Virtual Lab plays an important role in this, as it pools competencies digitally and makes the entire AM process transparent for all partners involved. “We are now on the threshold of industrial implementation”, says Christian Tenbrock, group leader at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT and futureAM project manager. “The expertise we have gained together is now to be transferred to industrial application.”

 

Virtual Lab bundles expertise

A major challenge for futureAM was the interplay between all participants, some of whom cover very different areas of the entire process chain. The Virtual Lab, a digital platform that ensures the exchange of information across all AM task areas and players, has proven its worth. In this context, the Fraunhofer Institute for Additive Production Technologies IAPT has developed various software tools for the design of AM components. In this way, it has created web-based simulation tools for metal AM, tools that can also be used by beginners.

 

Multi-material components without downstream joining

In the “Materials” field of activity, the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS, Dresden, has researched which materials can be combined with each other in a component and which problems arise in the process. Among other things, the Dresden researchers have dealt with expanding the applicable spectrum of additively processable high-temperature materials and researched how these can be combined in a multi-material design. The interaction of laser material deposition (LMD) and artificial intelligence (AI) yielded an exciting result: Thanks to AI-supported process analysis, the institute could analyse a wide range of influencing factors and optimise the manufacturing process. Fraunhofer IWS demonstrates how well the process already works using multi-material components made of nickel and aluminum. Depending on the component requirements, the researchers add either a third or fourth element in order to adapt the properties exactly to the respective application.

 

Components in XXL format: Take-off 10 times faster

The scientists at Fraunhofer ILT in Aachen have developed a demonstrator system built by a machine manufacturer. It is a system for 3D printing of components on an XXL scale. For example, a demonstrator component for future generations of Rolls-Royce engines could be manufactured with laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) thanks to the large build volume (1000 mm x 800 mm x 400 mm) and a new machine system with a mobile optical system. Similar successes have been achieved with extreme high speed laser material deposition (EHLA), which can now also be used to produce 3D components. The newly developed process allows extremely quick deposition speeds with high detail resolution.

 

Automated post-processing saves resources

The researchers also identified great potential for optimisation in post-processing. The Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU in Chemnitz, therefore, developed an automated solution for this as part of the project. To enable the process to identify and track the physical component beyond doubt and continuously, a code is incorporated during manufacturing and read out later. This code also ensures efficient and trouble-free copy protection. In the next step, the actual geometry of the clamped component is recorded by laser scanners and the optimum processing strategy derived by comparing the target and actual geometry. The processing is then automatically carried out by a robot and is verified in the process by renewed 3D scans.

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Accelerating The Journey To Series Production

Accelerating the Journey to Series Production

Multi-laser technology is changing the future of manufacturing. Article by Gary Tang, SLM Solutions.

One of the most important current trends in 3D printing or additive manufacturing (AM) is the advancement of functional parts into series production, aided by consistently improved machines with increased productivity, robustness, and stability. And being the pioneer of selective laser melting, SLM Solutions is changing the future of manufacturing by rapidly industrializing its multi-laser technology for the next generation of series production. 

Headquartered in Germany, SLM Solutions holds the base patent as the inventor of the selective laser melting process and, to this day, focuses on the advancement of this production process. The company was the first to develop and introduce multi-laser systems to the market, with the twin-laser SLM 280 in 2011. In 2013, the flagship SLM 500 was unveiled—the first quad-laser machine on the market and designed for continuous operation. The SLM 500 has been selected by Rolls Royce last year for its next stage of AM industrialization, allowing the company to meet both its productivity demands and maintain rigorous quality controls.

Leading 3D Technology and Process Innovation

As an innovation leader in the industry, SLM Solutions also offers patented bi-directional recoating to reduce laser-off times and overlap stitching to optimise part quality. The closed-loop handling system ensures operator safety and process integrity, and is a unique approach that isolates operators from metal powder during the powder fill process and unpacking after a build.

Besides productivity, improving process parameters is just as important when it comes to AM. By optimizing the parameters, it can help users to achieve real build rate increases of over 170 percent. All machines enable qualified production in a variety of materials, including aluminum, titanium, cobalt-chromium, Inconel, tool or stainless steel, as well as copper alloys—almost any weldable alloy can be processed. As a complete partner in developing additive manufacturing processes, SLM Solutions also offers software solutions and consulting services to customers to further lower the learning curve, develop new materials as well as production processes. 

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Traceability In The Medical Sector—Technical Challenge

Traceability In The Medical Sector—Technical Challenge

Accuracy, efficiency and safety are the key words of an industry at the cutting edge of technology. Governed by numerous standards ensuring the reliability of its components, the medical sector has implemented numerous traceability processes over the last few years.

Thanks to the markings applied to the various components, it is possible to obtain information about the manufacturer, but also the component reference number or their expiry date. All this data complies with the UDI (Unique Device Identification) and MDR (Medical Device Regulation) standards, which are essential for exporting devices to the USA and Europe.

The components to be marked are as diverse as the professions that make up the medical sector. There are, for example, many cases of marking on surgical instruments such as scalpels or bistouries, but also on prosthetics or orthoses, made of steel, cobalt, ceramics or biomaterials, dental implants, often made of titanium, or hearing aids or pacemakers.

In order to ensure optimal identification throughout their distribution and use, these multiple devices must have a marking composed of different elements. In order to comply with the standards mentioned above, it must contain a machine-readable barcode or Datamatrix as well as several alphanumeric codes that can be identified by humans. Quite often a logo is applied, meeting a need that is more aesthetic than practical.

In addition, there are many constraints linked to the complexity of the marked components and the sector of activity. For example, the materials with which the various devices are made are complex and varied (steel, titanium, stainless steel, ceramics, various alloys, biomaterials, etc.) and require real technical expertise when marking. Precision objects and medical tools are often small and leave very little space for marking. Despite the small marking windows, the identifiers must be contrasting and visible to allow reading via a vision system and a human.

Another challenge is not to weaken the part nor to change its surface state (essential for bone prosthetics which undergo important efforts throughout their life span). It is also important to take into account all the surface treatments and sterilization cycles that medical instruments undergo. This is why it is essential that the marking carried out is resistant and durable over time.

Laser marking, the most suitable solution for the medical sector

All these constraints make the traceability of medical tools a real technical challenge. SIC MARKING’s aser marking solution consists of emitting radiation from a source, amplifying it and directing it towards the part to be marked. The beam creates a chemical reaction on contact with the workpiece.

This traceability solution, thanks to its many advantages, is becoming more and more widespread in the medical industry. It offers great flexibility of use and is able to mark barcodes, Datamatrix codes, alphanumeric characters and logos. All this while adapting to any material. The high-contrast and durable result obtained allows perfect reading over time for optimal traceability. Finally, Laser marking ensures faultless security because it doesn’t weaken the part and doesn’t degrade its hygiene, a crucial factor in the medical sector.

“Today, the medical sector is a sector where traceability has become essential and necessary. SIC MARKING’s experience in this sector enables us to provide our customers with the most interesting marking solutions from a technical and economic point of view. The wide range of laser marking solutions from SIC MARKING enables us to offer our customers a marking system that meets the requirements of the various types of applications: permanent, non-destructive marking, resistant to the sterilization process, etc,” said Nicolas Louison, Technical Sales Representative at SIC-MARKING.

 

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Laser-Engraved Metal To Reduce Environmental Impact

Laser-Engraved Metal To Reduce Environmental Impact

Anti-fouling, ‘hydrophobic’ metal or plastic surfaces that imitate shark skins, engraved by a new laser technology being developed by European scientists, could soon replace the toxic varnishes used in ship coatings to stop algae or barnacles sticking to hulls – reducing maintenance costs, fuel bills and CO2 emissions.

Harnessing new photonics technology, a group of European scientists are currently developing a 1kw, ‘dot matrix’ ultrafast laser system that can carve flow-optimised metal or plastic surfaces capable of imitating the incredibly efficient skin from sharks.

Etching tiny ‘spike’ structures onto sheet metal or plastic, the new laser system can create a rough surface at a microscopic level. This uneven topography can create a reduction in drag or inhibit the growth of bacteria, algae or even barnacles.

Shark’s flesh, covered in millions of microscopic denticles – or tiny protruding scales – reduces drag to make it a highly efficient swimmer.

Similarly, engraved metal or plastic surfaces can have ‘anti-fouling’ properties that prevent contaminants or microorganisms from clinging on.

Funded by the Photonics PPP, the scientists behind the €4.7 million laser project hope that specially-designed structures on steel ship hulls could help to reduce fuel consumption and replace toxic ship paints and varnishes that are harmful to the environment.

Dr Johannes Finger, coordinator of the MultiFlex project, said: “Laser-fabricated surface structures have the potential to reduce friction and to prevent the growth of plants and algae. This could significantly reduce ship repair, maintenance, CO2 emissions and fuel bills while providing an alternative to harmful coatings that are toxic to the environment.”

“Besides maritime components, application fields can be found in aircraft and turbomachinery. Here, surface structures might inhibit cavitation and thus improve lifetimes of propellers of propulsion systems or water turbines.

“Our photonics system can also create design textures or ‘microcavities’. Here the environment benefits by replacing environmental problematic technologies like chemical etching,” said Dr Finger.

Ultrashort Pulsed (USP) or ‘Ultrafast’ lasers can ablate any material without damaging it. Surfaces cut with a USP are smooth, on a micron-scale and ideal for many industries where hard materials need to be processed with the highest precision.

 

Dot Matrix Laser

Developed by the MultiFlex project, the material is structured by the world’s first ‘dot matrix’ laser.

In the same way that an old-fashioned dot matrix printer uses a moving head, printing in a line by line motion, the laser sends super-fast pulses of concentrated energy to ablate – or cut – materials that are notoriously difficult to work with.

Resembling a giant chessboard, the system splits a single beam into a grid of 64 ‘beamlets’, where every single ray can be turned on, off, positioned, and individually ‘tuned’.

“Existing ultrafast lasers are known for their precise ablation and cutting results. Unfortunately, processing large parts with such lasers can take weeks. Our system will ablate more than 150 mm³ in one minute, therefore making it hundreds of times faster than existing technologies,” said Dr Finger.

 

Wider Applications

While the laser represents an exciting breakthrough in surface technology, the ultrafast laser has several wider applications:

Tool and Mould Manufacturing – With increased throughput, MultiFlex is making many USP mould and tool making applications, such as fabricating venting holes or microcavities, and making textures on free-form surfaces more cost-efficient. Tool and mould application is the first field where the technology will be validated.

Automotive – By delivering high throughput for USP surface processing technology, MultiFlex is tackling the micro-structuring applications for interior lighting, instrument clusters and aesthetic and haptic structures.

Electronics – Increasing the spread of ultrafast processing in electronics will improve the performance and reliability of sophisticated high-performance electronic components. Ultrafast laser-based fabrication of via holes and technical ceramics for high-performance electronics will be significantly improved.

Printing and Embossing – With a more economical and rapid production line, the MultiFlex system has the potential to significantly increase electronics printing, precise embossing of microstructures and the fabrication efficiency for high precision tools.

The consortium consists of the research institute Fraunhofer ILT and the Chair for Technology of Optical Systems of RWTH Aachen University from Germany as well as Amplitude Systèmes, LASEA France, AA OptoElectronic from France and LASEA from Belgium as industrial research and development partners.

The three-year MultiFlex project is supported by the European Commission within the framework of the ICT-04-2018 program and has received a grant of € 4.7 million via the Photonics Public Private Partnership.

 

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Dango & Dienenthal: Laser Technology Facilitates Pipe Sizing

Dango & Dienenthal: Laser Technology Facilitates Pipe Sizing

At the upcoming TUBE trade fair, Dango & Dienenthal (D&D) is going to unveil its new laser-supported tool for high-precision sizing of pipes. The Pipe Sizer achieves its extraordinarily high precision level thanks to a laser triangulation sensor which measures the internal contour of the pipe simultaneously with the sizing process. Another benefit of the new tool is that it dramatically cuts the time needed for pipe sizing.

The core element of the system is the expander. This unique component features six axially arranged expandable forming dies that cover the entire internal circumference of the pipe. Each die can be expanded separately by means of a hydraulic cylinder. As each cylinder can be individually actuated, it is possible to size the pipe ends highly precisely and efficiently by actuating only those dies relevant for the sectors of the pipe circumference that need sizing.

Unique about this pipe sizing tool developed by D&D is that it comes with a 360 deg circumference laser which measures the internal contour over the pipe’s complete circumference, generating – in real time – an exact high-resolution image of the internal pipe wall.

High-precision input for high-precision control

The pipe to be sized is fed onto the pipe sizer by means of a roller table. During this process, the 360 deg circumference laser measures all geometry data needed for the subsequent sizing process. From these measurements, the dedicated software calculates the actuation values for each one of the six expandable dies.

During the sizing process, the dies are individually expanded exactly to the point and with the pressure needed to achieve the desired internal contour of the pipe. When the process has been completed, the laser re-measures the contour. In the event that the pipe wall has sprung back, the control software re-calculates the actuation values for a second sizing cycle and the sizing process starts anew.

Each one of the six dies covers a sector of 60 deg. It may happen that the contour measurements show that the pipe wall needs to be expanded at a point located between two adjacent dies. In this case, the pipe can be rotated on the roller table.

The first pipe sizing machine of this type designed by D&D will be used for sizing the ends of pipes with diameters ranging between 400 and 1,000 mm and wall thicknesses between 20 and 60 mm.

Denis Albayrak, Sales Manager at Dango & Dienenthal Umformtechnik, describes the benefits for producers and processors of tubes and pipes: “The inline laser measurement makes it possible, for the first time ever, not only to obtain information about the internal geometry of a pipe “live”, during the sizing process, but to actually use this information inline for the control of the sizing operation in process. This shortens the entire procedure while achieving ultra-high precision.“

Best Fit and full body expansion

With the contour measurement by a laser it is now possible to introduce 100 percent pipe inspection without having to set up a time-consuming procedure. Gapless documentation of the geometry – inside diameter and ovality, for example – no longer poses a challenge. This data can even be used to apply the Best Fit process, a highly efficient process to optimise line pipe welding assembly operations.

Moreover, the new laser-based sizing technology also enables the sizing of pipes along their full body. The demands on the quality of pipes – especially, in terms of perfect roundness – have become increasingly exacting during the last few years, presenting pipe manufacturers constantly with new challenges. Here the new laser-supported tool has the potential to accelerate the pipe sizing process perceptibly and reduce the number of out-of-spec pipes shipped.

 

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AMADA Relies On WITT Gas Mixers For Optimal Laser Cutting

AMADA Relies On WITT Gas Mixers For Optimal Laser Cutting

Laser technology has been the method of choice in sheet metal processing for many years. The laser delivers first-class cutting results regardless of the type and thickness of the material. In laser cutting, process gases play an important role in cutting quality. The desired results can only be achieved if the quality of the cutting gas remains constant. AMADA GmbH achieves optimum process results by equipping its machines with WITT gas mixers.

High-quality process gases are used for consistent, first-class cutting results. The cutting gas or a cutting gas mixture is supplied to the cutting process via a nozzle system. This shields the cutting area from negative influences from the ambient air, and also expels molten material is expelled from the cut.

AMADA prefers a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen for cutting certain materials. The nitrogen serves as a flushing gas and at the same time has the function of cooling the surroundings of the laser beam; the oxygen in turn promotes the actual cutting process.

“For the quality of the cutting image, it is extremely important to supply the laser constantly with a very pure cutting gas or a precisely dosed gas mixture. Gas mixers from WITT offer the high quality and reliability required for our applications,” explains Axel Willuhn, Product Manager Punching and Laser Technology at AMADA GmbH.

Depending on size requirements, models from the WITT KM and MG product series are used. The gas mixers work with mechanical proportional mixing valves – a process that delivers high-precision gas mixtures, has long-term stability and is extremely robust at the same time.

WITT gas mixers with this mixing principle have been used in laser technology for many years. In addition to mixers for the production of process gases, WITT also successfully supplies mixers for the production of laser gas in CO2 laser systems to this industry.

 

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TRUMPF Benefits From E-Mobility

TRUMPF Benefits From E-Mobility

The high-technology company TRUMPF is benefiting from the auto industry’s shift toward e-mobility. At the recent Automotive Photonics technology conference in Ditzingen, auto industry representatives presented the very latest e-mobility technologies and manufacturing methods.

One of TRUMPF’s key contributions is a new laser that is better suited to welding copper than any other laser – a key development driven by TRUMPF laser specialists as part of the company’s e-mobility strategy. Regarded as the most important material for conducting electricity, copper plays an essential role in the e-mobility sector. The new laser offers a more efficient means of welding copper for applications such as the high-power electronic systems used in electric cars. “The transition toward e-mobility offers some major opportunities for German industry,” said Christian Schmitz, head of the Laser Technology division at TRUMPF, at a press conference held during the technology conference. “The important thing now is to rapidly address the new areas of business and technology that are emerging from this structural transformation.” TRUMPF expects further growth for its own business as a result of the change in the automotive industry. The company’s sales of products and solutions that are channelled straight into e-mobility have doubled compared to figures for the previous year. “Twenty percent of our order intake from the auto industry is now coming from e-mobility – that’s twice as much as last year,” Schmitz said.

On top of the existing auto industry, plenty of other players are also entering the automotive market, including disruptive start-ups from all over the world, Chinese companies and new companies from various fields, predominantly in battery manufacturing. “We have the products, technologies and manufacturing expertise we need to equip all these companies with e-mobility solutions, both existing industry players and market newcomers. We already have development partnerships with traditional automakers, and we’ve been involved in the development process at key start-ups from the very beginning. In terms of up-and-coming companies from China, our years of technology experience have made us a sought-after partner in the field of battery manufacturing,” said Schmitz.

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