Renishaw is collaborating with UK start-up business Additive Automations, as part of a project to automate metal additive manufacturing (AM) post-processing, which involves using collaborative robots (cobots) to perform support structure removal. The project could reduce the average cost per part by 25 percent, furthering AM’s potential as a cost-effective option for large volume production lines.
Renishaw provided four examples of AM builds, so the start-up could demonstrate its support structure removal system. The four AM parts were designed for medical, oil and gas, automotive and mechanical engineering applications.
The project, named Separation of Additive-Layer Supports by Automation (SALSA), aims to use robotics and deep learning to digitalise some of the few remaining manual processes left in AM. Cobots were chosen for their high payload-to-size ratio and integrated force sensors, which collect data to determine the geometry of AM parts. Software then analyses the data, using digital twin technology. The output is then used to determine where the support structures are so that they can be removed using an end-effector tool.
“Automating support removal and finishing in AM completely changes the economics when scaling up AM, and for the first time makes it feasible for manufacturers around the world to adopt this technology in rapid production,” explained Robert Bush. “The digitalisation of AM also comes with an increase in quality, traceability and repeatability. Given that on average almost two thirds of post-processing costs are from finishing and support structure removal, we believe automation can reduce costs by an average of 25 per cent per part.”
“Improvements in post-processing could bring AM to the forefront of new applications in medical and aerospace applications,” explained Bryan Austin, Director of AM Sales at Renishaw. “An automated manufacturing process could make AM adoption more appealing to manufacturers operating large volume production lines.”
Find out how gear manufacturer Katsa Oy was able to achieve consistent quality in its finishing and deburring processes. Article by Renishaw.
Renishaw RMP60 probe confirming finished gear dimensions after deburring
Gear and gearbox manufacturer Katsa Oy designs and manufactures power transmission components and supplies special gear units tailored to customer’s demands. Deburring gears manually using grinding wheels can be a variable process, resulting in inconsistent finishes across parts in the same batch. Machine-shop operators have to be very skilled to achieve a quality and consistent finish, but even then, variability from one operator to another is unavoidable.
In addition, manual deburring is a dirty and hazardous job, which few operators at Katsa wanted to undertake. As a consequence, finishing and deburring operations became a bottleneck in the company’s manufacturing process, with a knock-on effect often causing significant delays.
Thinking of automating the gear deburring process, Katsa approached Flexmill Oy, the global renowned for design and build robotised cell, to build an automated cell to finish-machine and deburr gears ranging in size from 50 mm to 1.5 m diameter.
The bespoke, turnkey cell incorporates an ABB robot, a Renishaw RMP60 probe and a twin pallet system which allows one gear to be machined whilst another is loaded.
To ensure all excess material on the machined gears is removed automatically by the deburring process, the Flexmill software requires the exact geometrical parameters of the gears and the gear teeth. Some of these parameters are known and available for each of the many different gears made by Katsa.
Those parameters that are not known can be measured using the Renishaw RMP60 probe with radio signal transmission. The ABB robot uses the probe for locating parts during set-up, with the resulting positional data used by the control software to generate a complete, automated deburring cycle—with no manual programming required. Once machined, the RMP60 probe is used post-process to confirm finished dimensions.
Flexmill Cell Featuring ABB Robot and Renishaw RMP60 Probe
The RMP60’s proven kinematic resistive probe mechanism, combined with its unique frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) radio transmission ideally suited to this application. This means that communication between the probe and its receiver remains stable even if, for example, ‘line-of-sight’ is lost or if another radio source enters the environment.
Operating in the 2.4 GHz waveband, the RMP60 machine probe is compliant with radio regulations in all major industrial markets. It offers a variety of activation options, an adjustable trigger force and measurement repeatability of ±1 μm 2σ.
Renishaw has expanded its RKL linear encoder scale family with the release of the RKLA substrate mastered encoder scale. The RKLA is designed to adopt the thermal behaviour of the underlying substrate, and is compatible with Renishaw’s RESOLUTE absolute encoder series.
RKLA substrate mastered encoder scale is a narrow, low cross-sectional area, stainless steel absolute tape scale with 6 mm width and a thickness of just 0.1 mm (0.15 mm with adhesive). It is graduated with a 30-µm pitch absolute code, which offers ±5 µm/m accuracy and is available in lengths up to 21 m.
The new scale is highly flexible and can be used in both linear and partial arc applications. It features a proven, robust stainless steel tape scale design with immunity to solvents, coilability for easy storage and cut-to-length convenience. The scale is installed onto the axis substrate by a self-adhesive backing tape and the scale ends are rigidly fixed by means of adhesive fastened end clamps, eliminating the need to drill holes. A simple applicator tool is available for quick and easy scale installation.
The RKL encoder scale family extends the range of capabilities of Renishaw’s encoder scales, allowing the customer to choose an appropriate thermal behaviour for their application. Its narrow form factor enables installation in applications where space is limited.
In partial arc applications, RKL encoder scales can be conveniently cut to the required length and mounted on a simple cylindrical substrate with no requirement for complex mounting features or tightly toleranced alignment surfaces.
Renishaw encoder systems have CE approval and are manufactured in house using strict quality-controlled processes that are certified to ISO 9001:2015 and backed by a truly responsive global sales and support network.
Steve Bell of Renishaw ASEAN talks about their activities in Thailand and provides his insights on the trend towards electric vehicles.
Renishaw is one of the leading providers of precision measurement and sensor technologies worldwide. Based in Gloucestershire, United Kingdom, the company has 4,500 employees located in the 36 countries where it has wholly owned subsidiary operations.
At the recent METALEX 2019 trade exhibition in Bangkok, Thailand, Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN) sat down with Steve Bell, general manager for ASEAN at Renishaw, to talk about their Thailand market, and the industries they are looking at in the region.
“We’ve been in Thailand for over 25 years now,” says Bell. “During that time, there have been a lot of changes in Thailand, particularly economically and politically. But generally, through it all Thailand has maintained steady growth. The last couple of years have been something of an exception with the economy being a little flat, but we do now see signs of the market looking up again.”
At METALEX, Renishaw showcased a similar concept they did at the recent Industrial Transformation Asia Pacific (ITAP) 2019 event in Singapore, where they highlighted end-to-end manufacturing of aerospace parts – from initial additive manufacturing, through machining to final assembly – with process and quality control built into every stage. For the Thailand show, the focus is on automotive, rather than aerospace.
“We are showing automotive parts. Our aim is to show how Renishaw can provide end-to-end solutions—when it comes to Industry 4.0, smart manufacturing, we have the tools to contribute to that drive. Here at Metalex, we are showing the complete story of a component, starting from additive manufacturing, making parts lighter while retaining strength through metal 3D printing parts with a lattice work, largely hollow internal construction. Next up is a calibration station, basically illustrating that before you start the process of manufacturing, you have to ensure that the machines you plan to use are accurate, repeatable and fit for the purpose. Precision machining of critical tight tolerance features follows with on-machine probing and toolsetting being used to set up the part and set the tools to be used. The machine tool is hooked up to an Equator automated flexible gauge which inspects key features of the parts coming off the machine, analyses the trend of results and automatically updates tool offsets in the machine tool control to keep the process within tolerance levels. Lastly, we reach final inspection where we’re showing a CMM with the latest REVO five-axis system,” explains Bell.
According to Bell, the automotive manufacturing industry is currently rather flat in Thailand but it remains a key sector for Thailand. “Many of our customers are in Thailand are involved directly in the automotive industry – that’s why we’ve chosen to feature automotive parts here,” he explains. “We are also beginning to a lot of discussion on additive manufacturing in Thailand. There are a number of projects that we are pursuing in that area. Another big growth area for Renishaw in Thailand is the Equator automated gauging line. We are seeing a lot of manufacturers — particularly Japanese high volume part producers — who have embraced Equator technology and are now using it quite significantly in their manufacturing processes.”
Bell pointed out the maturity of Thailand’s manufacturing industry demonstrated the willingness to adopt and utilize Renishaw’s advanced solutions. “The market is of course driven by our end-user customers. There is a demand for high-quality products, for high-precision parts,” he explains. “And where there is that demand, manufacturers are looking for ways to achieve quality and accuracy … and to become more profitable as they do so. Therefore, products like the Equator gauge are absolutely right for the customers we deal with in Thailand.”
(Editor’s Note: This interview took place in November 2019—months before the COVID-19 outbreak caused a significant impact in the industrial manufacturing landscape.)
To continue reading about Thailand’s EV Vehicle development and the outlook for 2020, head on over to our ebook!
Renishaw has started mass-producing critical components for medical ventilators, as part of a nationwide effort to support the NHS in the fight against Covid-19. The company has dedicated a significant part of its manufacturing sites in Gloucestershire and South Wales to produce precision-machined components for two different ventilators manufactured by the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium, with production at the sites now running seven days a week. This follows a huge effort from the project, manufacturing engineering and production teams over the last two weeks.
Like many companies across the UK, Renishaw reacted to the UK government’s call to radically increase ventilator production to treat coronavirus patients suffering with respiratory complications. Tens of thousands of these complex machines are needed in just a few weeks.
Renishaw joined with leading companies in the aerospace, automotive, medical devices and motorsport sectors to form the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium, under the leadership of Dick Elsy, CEO of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult. This diverse team is working non-stop to boost production of two proven ventilators, selected by the NHS and manufactured in the UK by Penlon and Smiths Medical.
Renishaw’s manufacturing activities form part of a complex network of suppliers that the consortium is coordinating, many of whom, like Renishaw, are making ventilator components for the first time. Mass-production of ventilators, each of which comprises hundreds of diverse components, requires millions of parts to come together for assembly, a huge logistical operation.
“We have reorganised our factories to increase spacing, as well as zoning areas to restrict movement around the sites. Hygiene regimes have also been enhanced to minimise the potential risk of the spread of infection. Our staff have responded magnificently to this challenging situation and it is wonderful to see the factories back up and running and for us to be playing our part in the national Ventilator Challenge,” said Gareth Hankins, Director of Group Manufacturing Services at Renishaw.
“It has been an extraordinary few weeks, with so many companies from different fields aligning on a single goal and pulling together so effectively and so quickly. The VentilatorChallengeUK consortium is working together with incredible determination and energy to scale up production of much-needed ventilators and combat a virus that is affecting people around the world,” commented Marc Saunders, Director of Group Strategic Development.
He concludes, “The consortium’s key message is that ‘Every ventilator produced is a life saved’ and Renishaw is proud to be playing its part in this vital endeavour.”
Users of Renishaw’s XM-60 multi-axis calibrator can now benefit from a new single-axis horizontal stage. This enables precise alignment in applications without an axis perpendicular to the travel. Precision translation of the XM-60 launch unit is easily achieved with the horizontal stage, without disturbing yaw alignment. This feature is particularly useful for applications such as stages and printers.
XM-60 is a laser measurement system capable of measuring errors in six degrees of freedom along a linear axis, simultaneously from a single set-up. It has been designed to measure motion errors directly, by aligning the laser beams with the axis under test. This reduces the inaccuracies which can result from complex mathematics used in alternative measurement techniques. Direct measurement makes comparison, before and after adjustments, a quick and simple task.
A vertical stage that can be used separately or in combination with the horizontal stage will be available later in 2020.
Steve Bell of Renishaw Singapore discusses the additive manufacturing trend for aerospace parts, and the journey towards Industry 4.0. Article by Stephen Las Marias.
At the recent Industrial Transformation Asia Pacific (ITAP) 2019 event in Singapore, Renishaw (Singapore) Pte Ltd showcased an end-to-end solution involving the production of aerospace blades and its assembly into a blisk. From additive manufacturing, where the aerospace blades were manufactured (Station 1) though metal 3D printing; to the calibration station, which featured Renishaw’s XL80 and XK10 calibration products, designed to make sure that machining processes are as accurate as they can be; to Station 3, which featured a machine tool showing some of Renishaw’s probing technologies, particularly SupaScan, which is a method of using a scanning probe on a machine tool to gather data quickly, and enables set up of a part very accurately. Alongside the machine tool is the Equator gauging system, which makes sure that parts being finished on the machine tool stay within tolerance. Finally, Station 4 showcases the final assembly of the blades into a blisk, which is being inspected on a CMM using a REVO 5-axis scanning technology.
“Basically, we’re looking at a complete, end-to-end story of the part,” says Steve Bell, general manager for ASEAN at Renishaw Singapore. “All of that supplemented by Renishaw Central, a software product that allows you to gather data from the complete mix of Renishaw equipment; and from there, to use the data to make intelligent decisions about your manufacturing processes.
According to Bell, it is the first time for company to attend ITAP. “We heard good things about last year’s ITAP event, so we decided to take part this year,” he says. “What we are seeing is that it is very much focused on automation, smart factory, Industry 4.0—these are all things that are of interest to us as a company. Industry 4.0 is all about connectivity of your equipment, getting useful information from the equipment, and then using that information to make sensible decisions about how you continue your manufacturing process. And all of that is very much what Renishaw is about.”
Growing Aerospace Industry
The aerospace industry in Singapore is a growing market, according to Bell. “It is very much an industry niche within Singapore,” he says.
The challenge, though, is the accuracy, the need for conformity of parts, and the need to reach the approval levels that are essential within the industry.
“The tolerances are constantly getting tighter, so, people are looking for improvements in performance, they are looking for faster, more consistent ways to manufacture parts,” he notes. “These areas are where we think we have a lot to contribute.”
An evolution in the manufacture of aerospace parts is taking place, especially with the emergence of 3D printing. In fact, the blades showcased here by Renishaw feature a hollow lattice-structured central section. “The aim is to make the blades strong, but also as light as possible,” says Bell.
Journey to Industry 4.0
ITAP covers the full gamut of industry—from top level factory management systems, all the way down to shop floor tooling.
“Industry 4.0 is meant to bring all of the diverse parts together, to bring the data on to one single platform where decisions can be made,” says Bell. “So, I think, an exhibition that reflects that, with a focus on Industry 4.0, makes a lot of sense to us.”
According to Bell, people have been talking a lot about Industry 4.0, “but the first signs of real implementation are just beginning to be seen,” he says. The picture across Southeast Asia is quite mixed. While some markets are moving rapidly to Industry 4.0, for others, it is going to take longer toward smart factory implementation.
“I look after Southeast Asia. In Singapore, a lot of the heavy lifting has been done by the Singapore government, so they are pushing the SMEs towards an understanding of Industry 4.0, and hopefully, also implementation. From our point of view as a company, our first requirement is to make sure that our own equipment can be integrated into central systems ; we need to have all the hooks in place so that the data from our equipment can be ported into other factory management systems. That’s exactly what we are trying to showcase at this exhibition.”
Market outlook 2020: The year 2019 has been quite a challenging year for the manufacturing industry, with geopolitical tensions impacting investment decisions and shifts in manufacturing centres, and trends such as e-mobility, Industry 4.0, and additive manufacturing creating industrial transformation. In this Outlook 2020 special, six industry leaders share their thoughts on what to expect in 2020, how the industry will develop, new opportunities and market drivers, and how to navigate through the challenges and issues from these dynamics.
HEXAGON MANUFACTURING INTELLIGENCE
Lim Boon Choon, President, Asia Pacific, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence
The year 2019 was a time of economic uncertainty in global manufacturing. But the Asia Pacific region is well placed to capitalise on new opportunities in 2020, as increasing adoption of disruptive technologies shows organisations are facing market challenges by pursuing innovation-driven competitiveness. The growing recognition of the efficiency and operational excellence to be gained from digitised metrology offers long-term, sustainable investment and expansion in the Asia Pacific market.
The Growth of the Smart Factory
Increasingly connected enterprises will be a continuing trend throughout 2020 and beyond. The digital transformation of quality is a central part of this smart factory vision. Approaches to metrology data are maturing, and companies are focused on gaining actionable insights from real-time data. Growing demand for data analysis software is expected, and the adoption of platforms offering advanced big data and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) capabilities will enable far more predictive and proactive manufacturing.
Across the region, new business models will emerge with the prevalence of cloud computing, connecting quality systems to machines throughout end-to-end processes and across factories. Streamlining the analysis and communication of metrology data is essential to breakdown operational silos and drive growth by enhancing product customisation capabilities and throughput.
The trend of automating metrology operations will continue to grow with the increasing adoption of robotics, measuring cells, and automated part loading, enabling manufacturers to scale up their autonomous capabilities. And as manufacturers look to increase their application flexibility, demand for non-contact 3D scanning technology will increase.
Driving Additive Manufacturing Capabilities
Additive manufacturing, also known as industrial 3D printing, is still emerging in sectors such as medical, transportation and logistics, construction, aviation, automotive, and shipping. But according to research from Thyssenkrupp, 3D printing is expected to create $100 billion in value in the ASEAN region by 2025. Quality will play a central role in expanding this developing process, with technologies such as 3D scanning and computed tomography (CT) for measuring internal geometries. Additive manufacturing is a key area of strategic importance for Hexagon. The recent acquisition of CT software provider Volume Graphics adds advanced measurement capabilities to Hexagon’s already comprehensive solution portfolio in the additive space, which also includes software for generative design and additive process simulation.
The expected widespread adoption of smart technologies suggests 2020 will mark a major step forward on the industry 4.0 journey.
Meir Noybauer, Business Development Manager, ISCAR
Throughout the year 2020, the industry as we know it will shift towards smart factories with IoT (Internet of Things) cyber connectivity, and AI (artificial intelligence) and robotics technologies, that will most likely be developed in the main industrial hubs as part of the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0).
Additive Manufacturing and other advanced manufacturing technologies will continue to grow and replace conventional methods for machining automotive, aerospace and energy parts, and facilitate new opportunities for complicated part designs that were previously unrealizable.
The global search for clean energy and low-emission mobility is leaning towards newer and harder materials, which challenge ISCAR to develop advanced machining technologies, such as SiAlON ceramics and super alloy materials, while using high and ultra-high coolant pressure to boost productivities to higher levels never seen before.
The medical sector will be one of the emerging industry segments, with sophisticated implants using advanced materials and machining technologies jointly developed by ISCAR engineers and leading medical implant companies throughout Europe, the US and Eastern Asia.
The automotive segment will continue to be a global industry leader, while transitioning from conventional combustion to small hybrid-high efficiency engines and electric e-drive cars and implementing other clean mobile technologies, specifically for electric charging infrastructures which have not yet been applied in many countries.
Stefano Corradini, Group Director, Sales & Marketing, Marposs
The year 2020 appears to be one of the most challenging years of the last decade, both in the Asia Pacific and worldwide.
The combination of trade wars and their impact on several geographic areas and market sectors, social turmoil in various countries, and many technological changes as consequence of increased environmental concerns, may have a significant negative effect on the general economic situation.
Automotive Manufacturing Evolution
Being a significant part of Marposs business somehow related to the automotive sector, we see the evolution from internal combustion engine (ICE) to electromobility as one of the biggest driver of the economic uncertainty. We prefer, anyway, to see this as an opportunity to offer our existing and new customers an extended panel of solutions, which are moving from our traditional measuring sector to a broader concept including several type of testing equipment (mainly leak test using different type of tracer gas extended also to fuel cells), as well as inspection applications (non-destructive, vision, and similar), and control systems to monitor the whole manufacturing process of the core components of the NEVs/BEVs (new/battery energy vehicles), such as battery cells, modules and packs, battery trays, and electric drive units (EDU) including electric motors; and end of line testing.
We are willing to become a preferred partner of BEV manufacturers and suppliers as we have been for decades for traditional combustion engines, offering them our technical know-how, our innovation culture, and our worldwide organization for sales and after sales.
Steve Bell, General Manager, ASEAN, Renishaw (Singapore) Pte Ltd
Smart manufacturing technologies increase visibility and transparency to manufacturing operations, allowing manufacturers to get the overall picture of their productivity and competitiveness, to make faster changes in response to market-based threats or opportunities. This requires a range of intelligent process control solutions throughout the factory, to ensure high standards of repeatability. The key is going digital—connecting physical manufacturing processes with the digital technology to make decisions about process improvement on the shop floor, or on mobile devices.
Flexible and Customised
Additive manufacturing plays a major role in the Industry 4.0 revolution, allowing manufacturers the flexibility to build highly customised parts. Renishaw’s additive manufacturing technologies continue to evolve, aiming to provide users the flexibility to use, change and manage different metal materials, enables users to adapt to meet market demand and configure processes to achieve optimal performance.
Focus on Automotive Industry
Ensuring businesses are equipped and ready to navigate the evolving automotive manufacturing landscape, Renishaw’s manufacturing solutions provide the speed, flexibility, and ease of use to help companies adapt their production capabilities for the evolving electric future. From multi-sensor rapid scanning of machined castings to material analysis of fuel cells, we will continue to support customers on the road from internal combustion engine (ICE) to electric vehicles (EV).
SIEMENS DIGITAL INDUSTRIES SOFTWARE
Alex Teo, Managing Director, Southeast Asia, Siemens Digital Industries Software
The maturity of manufacturing supply chains in Asia has undoubtedly exerted pressure on the metalworking industry to be more competitive than ever. Demand for steel in Asia is expected to rise by an average of 1.5 percent in 2020, and will likely see effects such as rising operating costs necessitating the move for businesses to look for technology driven solutions to relieve some of these operational strains. In particular, Southeast Asia is an exciting region for growth, with markets such as Malaysia, Vietnam, and Singapore making strides in realising their Industry 4.0 visions through digitalisation. In 2020, we also launched a Technical Competency Hub in Penang, the first in the region, which serves as a platform for Siemens to help companies, especially SMEs, begin their digitalisation journey in order to meet the needs of the new economy.
Using digital twins, manufacturers will be able to explore more economical and structurally enhanced materials. By leveraging physics-based simulations, supported by data analytics in an entirely virtual environment, the expansion of production capacity in Asia can be further encouraged. This means that manufacturers can optimise their choice of materials by testing and analysing combinations of different metals and alloys digitally before using additive manufacturing technologies such as powder bed fusion to produce these components faster and more reliably, reducing the need and cost for real prototypes.
Siemens’ end-to-end additive manufacturing solutions cover CAD/CAM/CAE models that enable product design and simulation of production processes and planning, preparation, and verification of the print jobs. Simulation and 3D modelling allow for advanced complexity of design and quality, ultimately resulting in fewer distortions and errors. The goal is flawless execution when parts come out of a factory, ready for certification. The full additive challenge covers the entire value chain: product design, production process, and performance.
Using customisable solutions for pressing, transporting, positioning and press safety, in combination with simulation for the entire spectrum of metal forming, businesses can proactively advance with components working seamlessly together. This collaboration increases the cost-effectiveness of all production processes in all sectors, reducing energy costs.
The economic environment for the international and German machine tool industry remains difficult now and in the coming months. After eight years of high economic activity in the international machine tool industry, global demand for capital goods has calmed considerably after the fourth quarter of 2018. The reasons for this have already been identified and discussed many times. The economic distortions, in particular the trade war between the United States and China, are boosting the already sharp drop in demand. The increasing protectionism at all levels is affecting world trade and international supply chains. Finally, the structural shift in the automotive industry towards new drive technologies is causing further problems. It is still questionable at what pace and extent development is progressing and which technologies will be used in the future. The entire scenario is unsettling the industry worldwide. Companies have become very cautious, and they are shifting their investments.
Because of these, incoming orders in the international machine tool industry fell sharply in all regions in the first nine months of 2019. According to initial estimates, orders worldwide fell by 21 percent. Asia declined by 24 percent, while Europe lost 19 percent of its orders. Contracts in America, which is particularly the United States, held up best, if we can say so. They went down 18 percent in comparison to the previous year. In Germany, with its high dependence on exports, incoming orders fell by 23 percent by October in 2019, the most recent available data. This applies equally to domestic and foreign orders.
Markets to Stabilise
Oxford Economics, the VDW’s forecasting partner, expects this trend to stabilise in the best case scenario for 2020. At 2.5 percent, global economic output is expected to be slightly below the increase in 2019. With 2.1 percent, industrial production will grow more strongly than the current year. This also applies to investments. Stabilisation is also expected for the whole German economy. Industrial production, which is expected to shrink in 2019, is likely to turn slightly up again. This means that incoming orders in the machine tool industry will probably go through the bottom in the course of the coming year.
Machine tool consumption, a late indicator, will remain negative in all regions. Asia is the exception. Manufacturers can draw new hope from the fact that the election results in Great Britain have now provided certainty about the island’s exit date from the European Union. Then, the negotiations on a tariff agreement can begin and hopefully lead to a good end. There is also movement in the trade conflict between the United States and China. Should a consensus be reached, the world economy will reach new momentum as well.
Renishaw is collaborating with Sandvik Additive Manufacturing to qualify new additive manufacturing (AM) materials for production applications. This encompasses a broad range of metal powders, including new alloy compositions that are optimised for the laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) process and which provide superior material properties.
Sandvik has worked with Renishaw AM systems since 2018 at its Additive Manufacturing Centre in Sandviken, Sweden. During this time, the two companies have worked together to develop process parameters for a range of Sandvik metal powders, including stainless and maraging steels, and the latest Osprey nickel-based superalloys. Sandvik has recently inaugurated a state-of-the-art titanium atomiser and powder processing facility and will now turn its focus to qualifying these alloys for industrial and medical applications.
TOP ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING/3D PRINTING ARTICLES FOR THE MONTH
“With our 157-year materials knowledge, our comprehensive range of in-house Osprey steels, duplex and super-duplex stainless steels, as well as nickel-based alloys and our new titanium powders, Sandvik now offers the widest range of AM materials to the market,” said Mikael Schuisky, VP R&D and Operations at Sandvik Additive Manufacturing. “Renishaw’s open machines have enabled us to rapidly optimise process parameters for our alloys for use in many different applications.”
This parameter development work has highlighted opportunities to make small but important changes to the composition of Sandvik alloys, whilst remaining within the relevant ASTM specification, to optimise the mechanical properties of LPBF components. Examples of this include a maraging steel with enhanced strength and hardness, and a crack-free Osprey HX nickel superalloy.
“Much of the innovation in AM in the next few years will come from the pairing of enhanced machine performance with improved alloys,” explained Stephen Crownshaw, AM Business Manager at Renishaw. “Better alloys mean better material properties, enabling the manufacture of AM components that are even more efficient and cost-effective. The consistency of Renishaw’s latest AM systems, combined with Sandvik’s material expertise, provides tremendous opportunities to advance AM processes and to make a stronger business case for AM.”
In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News, Steve Bell of Renishaw Singapore provides his insights into and outlook for the Vietnam and Philippine metalworking industry.
Steve Bell is the general manager for ASEAN at Renishaw (Singapore) Pte Ltd. In this interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN), we talk about Renishaw’s activities, and his outlook on the metalworking industry markets of Vietnam and the Philippines.
FOR THOSE WHO ARE NEW TO THIS INDUSTRY, GIVE US A BRIEF BACKGROUND ON RENISHAW.
Steve Bell (SB): Renishaw is a long-established UK company. Our core activities primarily involve inspection and manufacturing process control. We have many solutions and technologies which help to apply high levels of automation and connectivity to fit any manufacturing process. This in turn boosts the efficiency and quality of manufacturing. These include probes used to set up and inspect parts on machine tools, tool setters and advanced 5 axis probing systems designed to check dimensions of components on CMMs.
Our machine tool systems centre on methodologies to implement in-process control with the aim of increasing throughput and improving quality. We branch into other essential areas like calibration—we have many products connected with machine setup, because unless the machines are set up properly, no matter what you do, you will never make the products right. Our calibration products include the XK10 alignment laser used during machine build, the XL80 calibration laser system and the popular QC20W ball-bar employed to do regular health checks on machine performance.
Moving on, we have the Equator automated measuring gauge, which has been designed for use in a production environment. It is used for immediate checking of parts coming off a machine tool as an alternative to manual or custom gauging. Intelligent Process Control (IPC) allows Equator to inspect a part, gather data from the inspection and use that data to update the tool offsets on the machine tool controller to ensure that future parts stay in tolerance. That’s a very efficient way to manufacture, where you are not waiting for the end of the process to find out that something’s wrong; you are making sure parts stay correct all the way through the process.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TRENDS YOU ARE SEEING?
SB: Basically, everyone wants to make the best products as quickly as possible and as cost effectively as possible. That’s what’s driving the trends in the first place. And one of the significant trends that we are seeing is the drive towards automation. And the reason for automation, from a Renishaw point of view, is its main benefit—consistency of manufacturing.
Deploying automation, systems are programmed in advance, meaning intervention and the possibility of human error is minimised or eliminated.
So, for us, automation is about increasing throughput, but also getting that consistency, which in turn, leads to quality.
WHAT ARE THE OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES IN THE VIETNAM MARKET?
SB: The biggest challenge for the moment for us is that the market, after many years of being very buoyant, is now a little bit flat. A lot of this, I think, comes from international trade tensions; hopefully that is a relatively short-term problem, and things will get back on track.
But I think the longer-term prognosis is very good. We are going to see substantial growth here, particularly with a lot of manufacturing not necessarily moving out of China, but expanding beyond China, to Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand.
WHAT ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES?
SB: We’ve been active in the Philippines for many years. In particularly, we’ve worked with MESCO, our distributor, for 20-plus years. Frankly speaking, in terms of Southeast Asia, the Philippine market for manufacturing and automation is starting from a fairly low base point compared to, let’s say, Thailand, or some other Southeast Asian countries. But having said that, it is also the fastest growing market in the region from that low base. So, for us, it is an important market to be involved with now, and to start to work with in the future as well.
In the Philippines, what we see are manufacturers of consumer goods arriving—a couple of big brands are already active here in the Philippines—we also see a growing market for automotive subcontractors; so those kinds of companies are interested to streamline their manufacturing, improve quality—the kind of things that we bring through our gauging and in-process products.
Regarding challenges, there have been quite a few over the years in the Philippines where the market has been very flat. But as I said, at this point in time, it is definitely a growing market. We can see a big potential for growth. There are manufacturing investments coming in from Europe, the United States, other parts of Asia, and very often, when these companies are investing and setting up new plants, they are starting from a greenfield site—they are not inheriting previous manufacturing systems. So, because of that, when they do come in, they start at the current level of technology—moving straight into the best practices of manufacturing today, utilising automation, making use of all the latest technologies that are available to them. For us, that’s very exciting.
HOW IS THE MARKET FOR 3D PRINTING OR ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING?
SB: That’s also a growing market from small beginnings in ASEAN. Singapore is definitely the leader in this technology for now.
Metal AM is very much a niche market at the moment in the Philippines. We hope to see some growth in the longer term.
The real growth in additive manufacturing will come when users start to think about using the technology for real production—not just design prototypes or research but manufacturing parts on a 24/7 basis—and we’re already seeing that now with some customers in Singapore. That trend is likely to spread out across Asia. In Singapore in particular, we are seeing opportunities in the oil and gas and aerospace sectors.
WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THE INDUSTRY? ARE YOU SEEING A BREAKTHROUGH APPLICATION OR TREND THAT WILL DRIVE THE METALWORKING INDUSTRY FURTHER?
SB: Everyone is driving for the same kind of goals, and I think the key thing that is changing is the push towards automation. Automation means, of course, manufacturing process automation but it also encompasses the associated innovations in collecting and managing actionable data about equipment and devices, processes and parts… all of these contribute towards the smart factory/smart manufacturing concept.
That’s probably the number one trend—automation making possible a drive towards advances in consistency, throughput, product quality and cost-effective manufacturing.