Interviews & Reporting: Focus on Additive Manufacturing at Emo Hannover 2019

Known as the world of metalworking industry, EMO Hannover gathered 2,226 exhibitors from 44 nations in 17 trade show halls. Although the show welcomed a few companies from the additive manufacturing industry during the past three years, the organizers officially launched the “Additive Manufacturing Circle” during this 2019 edition.

In total, there were around 25 exhibitors among AM-dedicated companies and most of them showcased their products and services in Hall 9. Companies that provide AM as part of their services – but not exclusively – were found in other halls of the exhibition. It is hard to give an exact figure for these exhibitors.

Indeed, among the metal AM manufacturers, we found loyal exhibitors such as SLM Solutions, GEFERTEC, TRUMPF & Markforged via Mark3D. Other manufacturers like BigRep and Stratasys were also present to showcase that production does not always have to be in “metal”. Distributors of AM technologies and AM Software included alphacam, MachineWorks, to name a few of them. Among the software companies that were present, we noted Autodesk, Siemens & AMendate.  Lastly, the additive manufacturing circle gathered 14 companies as seen in the picture below:

Nevertheless, as far as AM is concerned, impressions about the show varied from one company to another. While the additive manufacturing area was a little quiet for some companies, for other exhibitors, showcasing their metal AM technology in the challenging world of metal raised more than simple curiosity. That’s why, the show was also the place to be to unveil new industrial solutions. Solutions from Trumpf, GF Machining, VBN Components, Andreas Maier GmbH & Co. KG, FKM Laser Sintering caught the attention.

Trumpf showcased the added value of Inconel parts produced using additive manufacturing

During the show, Trumpf presented the importance of AM for processing heat-resistant materials like Inconel®. If processing on a conventional manufacturing process, such materials would not produce desired results. Indeed, milling tools for instance, often get stuck, snap off or lose their edge.

With AM, the production of parts using these materials has proven to be cheaper, faster and of better quality. Indeed, one major advantage of Inconel® materials is that they are made to withstand extreme temperatures (maximum 1000° Celsius) without deforming. Furthermore, unlike conventional manufacturing processes, 3D printing does not waste material, because it only uses the amount of powder that actually needs to be melted to create the part. Not to mention that manufacturing internal cooling channels has been made easier to create complex geometries.

Heat-resistant materials play a key role in many industries, including aerospace and the power generation sector. We’re hoping that the applications we showcased at EMO will encourage companies from those sectors and job shops to start using this technology,” says Volkan Düğmeci, a member of the industry sector management team for aerospace at TRUMPF Additive Manufacturing.

Applications such as gas turbines, combustion engines and heating systems may require the use of Inconel®.

The TruPrint 3000 3D printer was a key solution showcased by Trumpf during the show. With a cylinder-shaped build chamber of 40 centimeters by 30 centimeters, the system can manufacture multiple parts simultaneously. It also provides automated quality assurance such as powder bed monitoring and melt pool monitoring.

This is an important value-adding factor in industries with high product reliability standards, such as the aerospace sector,” says Düğmeci.

GF Machining and the DMP Flex 350 metal 3D printing machine.

GF Machining showcased a range of smart and advanced technologies that may drive tomorrow’s production. Acknowledged for its line of conventional manufacturing technologies, EMO Hannover was certainly an important show for the Switzerland-based manufacturer.

However, our interest in the manufacturer concerned a solution from the DMP Factory package unveiled last year at several shows of the industry.  This solution is the DMP Flex 350 metal 3D printing machine conjointly developed with 3D Systems.

The manufacturer improved the system design which is now more aligned with other products of its portfolio of technologies. Both manufacturing partners claim the flexible metal 3D printing solution delivers highly repeatable quality, high throughput as well as low total cost of ownership.

While processing complex alloys, the metal 3D printer can achieve 24/7 operation to produce parts up to 275 x 275 x 380 mm in size. Repeatability is one of the most desired requirements in manufacturing. With the DMP Flex 350, this is made possible thanks to the atmosphere during the printing process: a consistently low oxygen environment (fewer than 25 parts per million) which ensures excellent microstructures and very high density.

Legend: cool Jacket – by GF Machining

Furthermore, while the system ensures bidirectional material deposition, it also accelerates productivity thanks to its scanning strategies.

As for the low total cost of ownership (TCO), this benefit is made possible thanks to the machine’s powder recyclability, modest consumables use, as well as long-lasting and safe process filter.

 VBN Components and its line of wear-resistant materials for AM

Sweden-based company is a materials producer of new wear- and heat-resistant metals in near-net-shape. During the show, a conversation with Ulrik Beste, CTO, enabled us to better discover the company’s portfolio and processes. Five materials constitute the Vibenite®-portfolio but we mainly laid emphasis on one material.

“We are melting metal powder according to 3D Printing requirements”, explained Beste. The company’s CTO explained the importance of the patented alloy Vibenite® 480 that they launched during the show. According to Beste, “3D printing cemented carbide is very complex and is often considered impossible in the additive manufacturing world.” The truth is, we often compare manufacturing technologies only at the level of machines but improvements in additive manufacturing should also comply with advancements at the level of materials and software.

Beste explained that VBN now presents 3D printable alloys that are not possible to manufacture in traditional ways. The traditional needs of forging and rolling bars and heavy machining limit the traditional materials. But with 3D printing, you can alloy in a different way and achieve higher performance.

Image via VBN Components: Large drill with cutting fluid channels, made with Vibenite®, Diam=40mm, Length=220mm

To overcome these challenges, the producer has been working on a new range of hybrid carbide. Named Vibenite® 480, the material combines the toughness of high-speed steels (PM-HSS) with the heat resistance of cemented carbides.

 Applications with the innovative material include gear hobs and rock drills.

Andreas Maier GmbH & Co. KG ensures everything runs smoothly with its clamping systems

Known as the clamping experts of the industry, AMF specializes in different systems of clamping technology. Founded in 1890, AMF introduced its clamping elements for the first time in 1951. These systems were then designed for the tooling industry. Over time, the company has extended its expertise to meet industry 4.0 requirements and this inevitably takes into account additive manufacturing.

It’s quite intriguing because we rarely hear and talk about clamping systems in the additive manufacturing industry, yet, Jessica Parrilla, Product Manager at AMF, described the technology as an unavoidable part of the AM production. The fact is, we usually talk about visible operations in a manufacturing process, but clamping modules work in the shadows to meet specific requirements.

AM for instance, operates under high temperatures which lead to fluctuations that might affect reproducibility and process reliability. To address this issue, AMF delivers clamping modules that are temperature-resistant.

Known as the zero-point clamping technology, such system is applied across the entire process chain. The Product Manager explained that the operator would not need to set up the base plate with the component at every subsequent process, he will only activate the module once, to trigger the whole operation.

Parilla also explained that a clamping technology can help manufacturers reduce set-up times in the 3D Printer. Indeed, a clamping system is similar to a plug-and-play device; it therefore removes set-up processes during the manufacturing.

Lastly, a clamping technology can be applied in a wide range of applications.

FKM Laser Sintering

For their first time at Emo Hannover, industrial 3D printing service bureau showcased a wide range of applications enabled by AM. In an environment marked by devices (materials and machines), FKM Laser Sintering enabled visitors of the AM circle to discover real applications both for consumer goods and the industry.

Indeed, the metalworking industry has been for long time defined by tool, die and mould making requirements. FKM Laser Sintering brought to the show their competences in AM of plastics and metals parts. With 40 laser sintering machines, Alexander Imhof, Production Planning Operator at FKM, explained they are able to manufacture functional prototypes, finished parts, series, spare parts and tooling inserts.

For the specialist, based on their surprised look, visitors at their booth were not well aware of the opportunities brought by AM in a production facility, which makes Emo Hannover, an interesting place to raise awareness on the potential of AM.

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