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Cutting Costs, While Saving The Planet For Tool Makers

Cutting Costs, While Saving The Planet For Tool Makers

The main driver of business sustainability goals is to make an impact on the wider world. Another benefit that is often overlooked is the economic value of implementing sustainable actions. Can businesses save money, while helping to protect the planet? Here, Sachin Pimpalnerkar, global segment manager for renewable energy at global engineering group, Sandvik, explains how Sandvik Machining Solutions (SMS) has optimised two crucial toolmaking technologies to achieve just that.

Almost everything made of metal is machined with an insert. The insert has to withstand extreme heat and force, so is made of some of the hardest materials in the world. Typically, an insert is made using 80 per cent tungsten carbide, renowned for its superior durability, and a metal matrix that binds the carbide grains together, where cobalt is the most common.

Tough components created to withstand some of the most intense working environments require manufacturing processes that are equally strenuous.

Sintering

One of the most intense steps in tool insert manufacturing is the sintering process. After the carefully selected metal powders are milled and then pressed into shape, the inserts are very fragile. It is at this stage that the inserts are fused, or sintered, into solid pieces.

Sintering is not a quick process — but time is money. Keeping powerful furnaces in operation for many hours at a time uses up immense amounts of energy, but cutting corners and producing fragile inserts would be even more wasteful. If a reduction in energy consumption is to be made possible, it would require a reduction in cycle times without compromising product quality.

Teams at Dormer Pramet, part of the Sandvik Group, have successfully reduced the cycle time of their sintering process by almost 100 minutes. To achieve this reduction, Dormer Pramet engineers worked in close collaboration with research and development specialists from Sandvik Materials Technology (SMT) in Pune, India to redesign the gas flow passing through the charge of the sintering furnaces.

Coating

When machining ferrous materials such as cast iron or stainless steel, a coated insert is the favoured tool of choice. CVD coating involves placing tools into a chamber, which is pumped with gases at 950-1100 deg C. These gases react inside the heated chamber, depositing a thin layer onto each tool that reinforces its strength.

High temperatures are key to effective CVD coating, but maintaining them is an energy intensive process. How do we keep heat inside a building? We insulate it. To prevent heat from escaping CVD coating chambers, Dormer Pramet added new insulation onto the furnace’s coating. Trapping heat inside the chamber has shortened the cycle times of CVD reactors, and is estimated to lower emissions by 25 tonnes every year.

Combined, these two actions are calculated to not only reduce annual emissions by around 40 tonnes, but also save around 230,000 euros every year. Sustainable action will always focus on environmental improvement, but by implementing simple changes, manufacturers may also enjoy the business benefits that process evaluation can bring.

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Forming: Punching In The Third Dimension

Forming: Punching in the Third Dimension

Fitted with an intelligent punching head and the right tool, your punching machine will also demonstrate its talent for forming. Article by Vincent Tan, TRUMPF.

Your punching machine can do more than just punch. Fitted with an intelligent punching head and the right tool, your machine will also demonstrate its talent for forming. This allows you to fully process a great diversity of sophisticated components on one machine—and even burr-free if required. It is also efficient for small quantities as tool costs are low and setup times are short. 

The ability to produce burr-free sheet-metal parts directly on punching or punch laser machines saves you the time-consuming process of retrospectively removing the punching burr. This considerably reduces the throughput time, in particular for coated sheet metal and formed parts. Furthermore, the improved edge quality lowers the risk of injury when further processing the parts. 

Roller Deburring Tool

The roller deburring tool is mainly used for simple, large-surface contours. The punched edges are thus perfectly rounded off, which is a decisive advantage for visible edges in particular. A high-quality result is obtained with all of the sheet thickness ranges by adapting the roller contour to the modified burr and to the width of the separation gap.

Ball Deburring Tool

You can get an even better edge quality if you use the MultiShear slitting tool in addition. For shapes with contour radii of less than 20 mm, the deburring MultiTool is to be used. The ball deburring tool is suitable for smaller contours, holes and workpiece corners. Specially hardened balls press the punching burr into the base metal. In doing so, a chamfer is produced on the upper side of the part.  Thanks to the tapered punch head, deburring near formed areas is also possible.

Deburring MultiTool

TRUMPF’s deburring MultiTool, with its three embossing inserts in the die, excels on radii of less than 0.8 in in particular. The tool presses burrs flat in a single stroke or in nibbling mode, even in corners and small contours.

The MultiTool makes your machine more productive by integrating up to 10 different punches and dies into one tool. The strengths of the MultiTool are particularly notable in processing sheet metal parts with small punches of different sizes.

Benefits

  • Shorter production times through complete processing on one machine
  • Lower risk of injury
  • Deburring of all geometries, whether simple, complex, small or large.
  • Also for coated sheets and for parts with formed areas

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Join Bruker Alicona Webinar: Form And Roughness Measurement With One System

Join Bruker Alicona Webinar: Form And Roughness Measurement With One System

Bruker Alicona is hosting a webinar on 25 June 2020 to demonstrate applications of the company’s measuring system solutions. Attendees will learn more about current applications in selected key markets such as medical technology, tooling and aerospace. Speakers include Dr. Martin Koller from the Clinical Department of Dental Medicine at the Medical University of Graz to explain how and why the InfiniteFocus optical measuring system is used.

Other applications that will be addressed are:

  • Medical technology: A customer from the medical technology sector uses the optical µCMMnot only for the measurement of high-gloss knee implants but also for the lateral probing of vertical surfaces (Vertical Focus Probing)
  • Tooling industry: IMCO, manufacturer of high-performance cutting tools, uses the Bruker Alicona EdgeMaster to measureshape and contour accuracy, rake angle, undercuts, chipping and roughness. Especially the easy handling of the system is an enormous advantage for IMCO.
  • Aerospace: MTU Aero Engines already has three Cobotsystems in operation for break edge measurement. For MTU, the automatic measurement and evaluation of radii, chamfers and break edge on turbine engine components is a criterion of modern quality assurance.

Click here and register for the webinar now!

 

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Long Tool Life In Series Production

Long Tool Life In Series Production

Walter TC470 Supreme thread former with HiPIMS coating. With the TC470 Supreme, Walter is introducing a thread former especially for the requirements of series manufacturers – longer tool life, higher productivity and better process reliability.

Its geometry has more forming edges than comparable thread formers. The HiPIMS coating and the new type of tool pre- and post-treatment reduce edge wear and increase tool edge life. This enables higher machining parameters and increases productivity. The very smooth yet hard HiPIMS coating significantly reduces the torque. This, in turn, has a positive impact on the surface quality.

The TC470 Supreme has been developed for machining steel materials (ISO P). In practice, it has also produced similarly good results in aluminium (ISO N). A long tool life, high machining parameters and very good process reliability make the thread former appealing to mass producers such as those in the automotive industry. Users can choose from a large product range. Walter is offering the TC470 Supreme in four variants: With or without lubrication grooves and/or internal coolant, as well as with radial or axial coolant outlet, optimised for long and short threads. Dimension range (metric) M3–M10 or (metric fine) M10 × 1–M16 × 1.5 and for thread depths up to 3.5 × DN.

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Customising For Efficient And Consistent Performance

Customising For Efficient And Consistent Performance

A multinational automotive component manufacturer was experiencing inconsistent tool life at one of its Chinese plants. Sutton Tool’s Jeff Boyd describes the custom solution developed to help significantly extend tool life and reliability.

The initial approach to our local technical sales manager came from one of our local Chinese partners. Their customer operated one of several plants producing OEM brake system components for a German multinational manufacturer.

The plant was using a German brand of tool – but it was proving unreliable on quality and service. Simply, the existing taps being used weren’t taking advantage of the high-end CNC machines on offer. Could Sutton Tools look at the problem and help by developing and testing an improved solution?

Tough Material, Tough Environment

The process challenging the capability of the existing cutting tools involved high-speed thread tapping at surface speeds of 30m per minute. The material in question wasn’t helping: GGG50 is a highly abrasive ductile cast iron used in the automotive industry. We could immediately see that higher-specification tools were needed to meet this particular application requirements and environment.

Our first step was to reduce the run-out by eliminating the traditional collet-based tool holding, replacing it with a more precise shrink-fit type tool holding. This meant moving from the typical h9 tolerance to a h6 shank to suit the shrink-fit system, which resulted in less run-out and higher concentricity. Under intensive testing, we could demonstrate reduced run-out and almost no deviation. The tap could consistently produce threads at the required and elevated speed of 30m/min –one of the keys to longer tool life.

Our engineers worked on a prototype tool – especially designed for our customer’s exacting demands. Apart from changing the tool holding, we also changed the tool’s coating from Titanium Carbo-Nitride (TiCN) to the current generation Futura-Nano coating, Titanium Aluminium Nitride (TiAlN). This provides a higher resistance to abrasion than TiCN. Similarly, we changed the substrate from a conventional high speed steel (HSSE) to a Powder Metallurgy grade (HSS-PM). The finer grain size of HSS-PM material allows for a higher hardness tool, while still maintaining the toughness associated with HSS.

Finally, we included internal coolant ducts to the tap to utilise the transfer lines high pressure through-spindle-coolant capabilities which would help blast out the chips produced from the tapping operation efficiently & consistently, as well reduce the heat generated and thus make it more resilient than the previous solid tool.

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APAC Demand For Machine Tools On The Upswing As Manufacturers Invest In New Production Facilities

APAC Demand For Machine Tools On The Upswing As Manufacturers Invest In New Production Facilities

The growing purchasing power of middle-class consumers in Asia has led to an increase in spending on consumer goods. In a rush to meet the escalating demand, manufacturers catering to the APAC region are investing in new production plants and machines, creating a requirement for machine tools in the process. An analysis by Frost & Sullivan reveals that this requirement will push the Asia-Pacific machine tool market to grow at a CAGR of 2.2 percent from 2018 to 2023, reaching $10.5 billion in revenue.

“Business expansion strategies and plant localisation of end-user industries are set to drive the growth of the machine tool industry in the APAC region,” said Divya Saiprasad, Principal Consultant, Industrials at Frost & Sullivan.  “The rise in demand for machine tools can be attributed to the increase in the production of auto components and growth of the automotive industry.”

Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan are expected to remain the top three markets for machine tools in the region in 2023, contributing 69.5 percent. Additionally, emerging economies such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand are anticipated to showcase strong growth over the next three years, driven by foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow in the manufacturing sector.

“On the end-user vertical front, engineering and automotive sectors are projected to remain dominant,” noted Saiprasad. “The aviation sector is also expected to further supplement the market for machine tools, given the demand from the burgeoning upper-middle-class population.”

Machine tool vendors can tap into further growth by:

  • Integrating new features and technologies into additive manufacturing to increase the overall efficiency of multi-tasking machine tools.
  • Including new technologies such as IoT and Big Data for preventive and predictive maintenance of machines to help machine tool companies enhance their customers’ rate of operations in manufacturing, thereby increasing their brand recognition in the market.
  • Developing and selling smart machines equipped with AI, robots, and software technologies to expand sales and improve the productivity of customers in ASEAN countries.
  • Increasing production efficiency, shortening delivery times, and maintaining price competitiveness to increase sales and improve market profitability.
  • Expanding sales, distribution, and aftermarket service channels in emerging Asian countries to retain customers.

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Trends In Tool Development

Trends in Tool Development

Reducing CO2 greenhouse gas emissions has a considerable impact on the development of machining tools, as new fields of application are emerging, and existing ones need to be adapted. This is because alternative drives, new, lighter materials, and concepts that save energy and resources are now more in demand than ever before. Article by Walter AG.

Trends in Tool Development Walter Xtra·tec XT shoulder milling cutter

The Walter Xtra·tec XT shoulder milling cutter and face milling cutter are suitable for virtually all requirements in shoulder and face milling, in all common material groups.

Reducing CO2 greenhouse gas emissions has become an objective throughout the world. In many places, there are now discussions about imposing taxes on CO2 emissions. The German government has set itself the objective of reducing carbon dioxide emissions in Germany by 55 percent by 2030.

This also has a considerable impact on the development of machining tools, as new fields of application are emerging, and existing ones need to be adapted. This is because alternative drives, new, lighter materials, and concepts that save energy and resources are now more in demand than ever before. Developers see great potential in design modifications to tools, new coatings, new machining strategies, and digital solutions, which respond to the existing framework conditions in real time.

Increase Tool Life

The current trend is for new, lightweight aluminium-lithium alloys. These materials quickly overwhelm conventional tools, resulting in an increasing demand for high performance tools specifically designed for this range of applications.

For instance, aircraft components made of aluminium alloys often have machining volumes of up to 90 percent. Depending on the required component geometry, numerous bevels and cavities need to be milled out of the metal, with the goal of ensuring stability and reducing weight. To manufacture the components economically and to a high quality, they need to be machined using high speed cutting (HSC) processes involving cutting speeds of up to 3,000m/min. Cutting values that are too low lead to build-up on the cutting edge, and therefore result in rapid wear and frequent tool changes. This results in high costs due to long machine running times. Machine operators specialising in aluminium therefore have good reason to demand above-average cutting data and tool life from their tools, as well as particularly high process reliability.

With the design of the M2131 ramping milling cutter, the tool developers at Walter AG have shown how such complex requirements can be dealt with. The 90 deg milling cutter is equipped with a new class of indexable inserts, with the grade designation WNN15. This refers to a new PVD coating, which is manufactured using the HIPIMS method. The term HIPIMS stands for “High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering”, a technology based on magnetron cathode sputtering. The special feature of the physical coating process is that it produces an extremely dense and smooth PVD coating, which greatly reduces friction and the tendency to cause built-up edges. At the same, this method increases cutting edge stability and resistance to flank face wear, enabling a maximum metal removal rate as a result. Field tests have confirmed the advantages of HIPIMS indexable inserts compared to standard types. Increases in tool life of up to 200 percent were achieved.

“We are seeing an increasing demand for high-performance tools for machining aluminium, particularly in the aerospace industry but also increasingly in the automotive industry,” explains Wolfgang Vötsch, Senior Product Manager for Milling at Walter AG.

Trends in Tool Development Suitable workpieces, milling tools, machines and CAD/CAM systems are required for the dynamic milling strategy. Image: Walter AG

Suitable workpieces, milling tools, machines and CAD/CAM systems are required for the dynamic milling strategy. Image: Walter AG

Milling Strategy with a Focus on Efficiency

Many sectors, particularly the supply industry, are under pressure to provide increased process reliability and faster machining—at ever lower costs and with consistent quality. The demands for surface quality and dimensional stability are often increasing at the same rate as requirements for process reliability and cost efficiency. Moreover, there is a growing need for lightweight or heat-resistant materials. However, these materials from the ISO M and ISO S material groups are often difficult to machine precisely because of these properties.

Dynamic milling provides a solution in this area, offering both productivity and process reliability. This is why a growing number of metalworking companies are relying on this method.

High Performance Cutting vs. High Dynamic Cutting

The main differences between conventional high performance cutting (HPC) and high dynamic cutting (HDC) are in the movement of the milling cutter and the forces generated. During HPC, the milling tool moves with relatively low depths of cut. During HDC, the CAD/CAM control system adapts the machining paths so that the tool moves according to the shape of the workpiece. This prevents non-cutting time, or at least reduces it. Moreover, the depth of cut is significantly greater during HDC than during conventional HPC, meaning that travel distances are also reduced because the complete tool length can be used.

The engagement angle is usually very large during HPC. The forces that occur in the process are accordingly high. This in turn quickly causes signs of wear to appear on the tool and the machine spindle. Dynamic milling, on the other hand, is characterised by a high level of process stability and a long tool life. The engagement angle chosen for HDC is normally small, meaning that the forces which impact the tool and machine are much lower than for HPC. Higher cutting parameters, less non-cutting time and increased process stability result in a much higher metal removal rate for HDC milling compared to HPC.

Cutting Data Optimisation Using Live Data

Automation, digitalisation and networked processes have been everyday aspects in many areas of metalworking for a long time. In particular, the hardware and software used to collect and analyse live data have produced huge leaps in performance.

The Comara iCut software tool demonstrates how this provides opportunities to optimise processes. The adaptive feed control analyses incoming machine data in real time and adjusts the machining accordingly. This answers one of many users’ key questions. Namely, how can you get the most out of a machine without making major changes to the process or carrying out complex reprogramming work?

The iCut software enables the machining time per workpiece to be significantly reduced. This software is integrated into the existing control programme and applies the data from this for the machining process. During the first cut, iCut “learns” the idling output of the spindle and the maximum cutting efficiency per cut. Subsequently, it measures the spindle output up to 500 times per second and automatically adjusts the feed in each case. This means that the machine always operates at the maximum possible feed for each tool. Should the cutting conditions change (depths of cut, machining allowances, wear, etc.), iCut adjusts the speed and output in real time. This not only has a positive effect on the machining time for the workpiece, the optimised milling characteristics also increase the process reliability. The forces acting on the spindle are more constant and this also results in a longer service life.

If the tool is in danger of breaking, iCut reduces the feed straight away or stops the action altogether.

Florian Böpple, Digital Solutions Manager at Walter, says, “We have already achieved astonishing increases in efficiency for customers using iCut. If the machining operation is compatible, a 10% reduction in machining time is always achievable. We have already managed to reduce machining times by double this amount. When the quantity is high, this frees up considerable machine capacity.”

In addition, this works irrespective of whether Walter tools are used; all that is necessary is for the machine’s system requirements to be met.

Milling with ‘Xtended Technology’

Walter recently showed the potential of the tools themselves with the entirely new generation of Xtra·tec XT milling cutters. They combine design improvements with high-performance cutting tool materials. This means that the focus is always on increased productivity and process reliability. The most striking design feature is the installation position of the indexable inserts, at a greater incline and with a larger contact surface. This reduces the surface pressure in the seat while increasing the stability. The larger screw hole cross-section stabilises the indexable insert and the longer screws hold it in place more securely. The cutter body has also been made stronger, now with much more material behind the insert seat.

Besides increased process reliability, the special installation position of the inserts also allows for the addition of an extra tooth, thereby increasing productivity. The precise 90 deg shape of the shoulder milling cutter helps to reduce what would otherwise be additional required finishing operations. Clamping screws which are easier to access optimise handling and help prevent assembly errors.

Another new feature, which applies to the face milling cutter M5009, is the smaller indexable inserts which can be fitted to the milling cutters. These continue the current trend towards reduced machining allowances. The M5009 milling cutters combine small depths of cut with the economic advantages of double-sided indexable inserts—with eight usable cutting edges rather than the usual four. Thanks to these cutting edges, as well as a reduced number of finishing operations, the milling cutter achieves increased efficiency.

Our innovation also extends to sustainability. As part of Walter Green, the production and supply chain of the Xtra·tec XT milling cutters is CO2-compensated.

The four examples illustrate where we are heading in the metalworking industry—with respect to tools, machining strategies and the field of digital innovation. At the same time, they highlight four approaches showing where the opportunities lie and how the trends and challenges of the future can be dealt with successfully.

 

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EMO Hannover 2019 Boosting Investment Levels With Array Of New Technologies

EMO Hannover 2019 Boosting Investment Levels With Array Of New Technologies

Andreas Scheuer, Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, opens the world’s leading trade fair for metalworking

Carl Martin Welcker

Andreas Scheuer, Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, together with Lower Saxony’s First Minister Stephan Weil, Member of the Board of Management of Deutsche Telekom Adel Al-Saleh, Cecimo President Dr. Roland Feichtl and EMO General Commissioner Carl Martin Welcker, is opening the EMO Hannover 2019, the world’s leading trade fair. For six days, Hanover will once again become a Mecca for the international production technology industry. The theme of the event is “Smart technologies driving tomorrow’s production!” and more than 2,200 exhibitors from 48 countries are set to present their innovations for industrial production.

“Digitalisation and networking have been the subject of much discussion over the last few years, but they are now finally being implemented in the production processes,” says Carl Martin Welcker at the opening press conference in Hanover. Factories are becoming smart, machines and tools are becoming intelligent. They communicate with each other and are raising production to new quality levels. Many exhibitors are showcasing offerings for this. There are over 2,000 hits for the term “Industry 4.0” on the EMO website alone.

 

EMO Hannover presenting solutions to mega issues

Welcker sees major challenges and opportunities arising from the transition of the automotive industry – the sector’s largest customer. “Electrification will not happen overnight. Rather, there will still be many optimised fossil fuel-powered vehicles on the road, either with pure combustion engines or hybrid drives,” he said. The introduction of new drive technologies will undoubtedly lead to changes in individual manufacturing processes. However, the EMO General Commissioner strongly believes that highly differentiated solutions must be found to meet the highly disparate needs of cars, commercial vehicles, motorcycles, aircraft, marine engines, mobile machines and e-bikes. If we are to achieve the ambitious CO2 climate targets, it is all the more important to redouble our efforts in the search for future drive technologies, and to ensure that the best solution prevails in each case.

Researchers at FEV Consulting have calculated that fully electric vehicles will have a 19 percent share of the global market by 2030. This relates to 118 million new registrations, the overall number of which is not expected to change significantly from the 2017 figure. They also speak of a 64 percent reduction of the added value in the manufacturing process for pure electric drives, and 24 percent higher added value for plug-in hybrids.

In this scenario, any losses in production can potentially be compensated by new requirements. Improvements to the efficiency of the remaining combustion engines and transmission systems in the form of optimised surfaces, the reduction of noise emissions, protection against component wear (which is more intense in hybrids due to the switch from electric to combustion mode at high speeds) and the redesign of braking systems (required due to the high battery weights): all these factors call for new or modified production processes. In addition, there is the installation of rapid charging facilities nationwide. Complex new production systems are also needed for the manufacture of key electrical components such as batteries, traction motors and power electronics.

 

Sustainability is the basis of the machine tool industry’s business model

Without the use of intelligent technology, it will not ultimately be possible to achieve the ambitious climate protection targets by 2030. In any consideration of such advances, the focus is always on industrial production and thus on machine tools as ‘enablers’. There are demands for lower energy and material consumption levels, higher process efficiency coupled with higher product quality. “In fact, the tool industry is making a major contribution, because its business model is centred squarely on efficiency and waste avoidance,” points out Welcker.

The industry would not enjoy such international success if it was not capable of processing ever new materials – such as lightweight construction in the automotive industry – and of establishing more energy-efficient processes by cutting out entire processing steps, e.g. by combining a number of processes in a single machine. Industry 4.0 is currently giving rise to much talk about ‘digital twins’. These allow optimised machines, components and processes to be designed on the computer before any actual materials are used in production. Power generation, whether conventional or regenerative, ultimately requires sophisticated production technology, too. This is crucial if sustainable principles are to be adhered to in the necessary machining of large parts for wind turbines, in combined heat and power generation, or in the laser machining of solar panels. This is at the heart of what the machine tool industry stands for.

Sustainability has always been a key factor in the construction of the machine tools themselves. The machine tool industry fulfilled the EU’s requirements as part of its move towards establishing a circular (closed-loop) economy long ago: energy- and resource-efficient production, long service lives, incentives for refurbishment, updatability of control systems, second and third lives for products. This makes it an ideal example of how to implement recycling management.

 

Decline in German machine tool production expected in 2019

“EMO Hannover 2019 is taking place in less than ideal economic circumstances,” admits Welcker. After eight strong years for the machine tool industry, global demand for capital goods has been in decline since the fourth quarter of 2018. User demand in all regions of the world declined significantly in the first half of 2019. In the EMO host country of Germany, incoming orders also fell by more than a fifth in the first six months. Therefore VDW (German Machine Toll Builders’ Association) revised the production forecast for Germany to minus two percent.

However, a leading world trade fair such as EMO Hannover can reveal at an early stage the technologies which are likely to attract investment in the future. New offerings arising from digitalisation and the introduction of artificial intelligence, new products made possible through the extensive use of generative processes etc. will open up new dimensions of efficiency and quality in production. Companies should now be getting themselves in shape for the coming years – through strategic realignment, modernisation of production, increased process efficiency.  “There are many potential approaches. The solutions will crystallise in the coming days, not least here at EMO Hannover,” says the EMO General Commissioner.

 

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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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