The Hoffmann Group sees enormous potential in additive manufacturing. This is also what the company‘s own 3D printing Competence Centre stands for, where we explore the growth opportunities for this innovative technology.
A few years ago, 3D printing was still in its infancy. Even though scientists were astonished at the results of a number of outstanding experiments and hard-to-believe prototypes, the industrial sector had not yet discovered this spectacular form of additive manufacturing. Today, things are completely different. The automotive, aerospace and steel industries all rely on 3D printing. This innovative production process is an important issue for the Hoffmann Group as well. The Hoffmann Group thus opened its own 3D printing Competence Centre, which utilises the three major current technologies. We are working intensively to systematically analyse the opportunities provided by 3D printing. We combine this core technology with our products and services. So that we can continue to provide you, our customer, with innovative products and services that are best in class.
Information about additive manufacturing
A success story: 3D printing
Additive Manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, has long since outgrown its infancy and in the near future it will revolutionise production in countless industries.
The science sector is in broad agreement that the continued spread of the 3D printing process will result in significant changes in economic structures. Through the rapid production of prototypes and models, it is possible to develop and test innovative ideas faster than ever. A wide range of 3D printing processes are now used in various industries. Models and prototypes can be created for architectural applications and in art studios as well as in industry, when mechanical and automotive engineering applications rely on individual components.
The fantastic benefits of 3D printing.
There is a great deal of revolutionary potential in additive manufacturing, but it still cannot completely replace conventional production methods.
The benefits of 3D printing are as astounding as they are diverse: It permits the generation of complex geometries and parts with internal cavities; also individual products within a series can be customised and personalised. In addition, additive production of parts from difficult to process and expensive materials is possible, such as nickel-based alloys or titanium. And finally, tremendous material and weight savings are possible, which has a particularly positive effect on racing and aerospace. But not just components optimised for 3D printing are produced additively, the method is also used for parts that cannot be delivered fast enough using conventional production methods. One of the biggest expense and cost drivers of additive manufacturing is the post-processing of the components. Here, conventional production methods come into play, in particular manual post-processing. Mechanical post-processing of additively produced components poses new challenges in terms of wear resistance and chip formation. It should be noted that although additive manufacturing will complement conventional production processes in a meaningful way, it will not replace them in the foreseeable future. The Hoffmann Group uses its sophisticated consulting expertise and optimum products to support its customers, both in the post-processing of additively manufactured components, especially using conventional manufacturing, as well as in the individual process steps.
The right additive process for your needs.
In Additive Manufacturing, objects are built layer by layer. As a result, three-dimensional products can be ceated that, due to the complexity of the geometry, cannot be produced using conventional methods. The materials used for the „printed“ parts can be powdered metals, plastics or liquid polymers. 1. Fused Deposition Modelling FDM The solid material, which is called filament, is melted and deposited at the right place on the platform to produce the desired component. 2. Multi Jet Printing MJP The liquid base material is applied in a targeted manner and each layer is cured with UV light. The process is comparable to classic inkjet printer technology. A wide range of colours, different shore hardnesses and photo-realistic representation are feasible. 3. Selective Laser Melting SLM The material used is powdered metal, which is applied in layers to a substrate plate. In every layer, the powder is fused to the surface specified by the software, thus building the desired component.
Faster. Lighter. More efficient.
3D printing is state-of-the-art for the aerotec premium subsidiary apworks. Because additive manufacturing can create more complex geometries and save significant weight not only for aviation technology applications.
APWORKS has developed its own material: Scalmalloy® is a high-performance aluminium powder developed specifically for additive manufacturing. Joachim Zettler, Managing Director of APWORKS GmbH, explains the objective of Scalmalloy®: “Combining the advantages of metallic 3D printing with new materials opens up completely new possibilities in the production of components.” Nevertheless, all additive processes also require additional processing. Here, APWORKS relies on its long-time partner the Hoffmann Group for tools and equipment. Joachim Zettler explains further: “We value the Hoffmann Group as a loyal and reliable partner and we appreciate their pioneering spirit, accompanying us on our path toward innovative technology.” In the coming years, there will still be much to do in additive manufacturing. For one, because the machines are being further automated and digitalised, and also because even more efficient and productive systems will make series production in larger style feasible.
Quality tools for additive manufacturing
1. Preparation/setting up The machine is prepared for the printing process. For this, the relevant personal protective equipment (PPE) has to be worn and, additionally, various hand tools are required.
2. Building process incl. unpacking During the production process the components are built up in the machine in layers. Following this, the parts or the platform are unpacked and taken out of the machine; here again, PPE is of vital importance.
3. Separation / release from the build platform To separate / release the components from the build platform various processing methods and tools are used. These range from hammer and chisel, to spatula or knife, up to automated processes like a band saw or parting-off milling cutters.
Post-processing (applies to manual/mechanical post-processing) The proportion of post-processing can amount to 20-70% of the total process chain. Post-processing is subdivided into manual and mechanical post-processing.
4. Manual post-processing The first step is to remove the supporting structure from the component in order to achieve the desired surface finish using the subsequent processing steps. These can involve various grinding tools and also polishing tools in order to achieve a high-gloss finish.
5. Mechanical post-processing Machining comes into play in order to increase the degree of automation in post-processing. An allowance is included on the CAD model in order to finish free-form surfaces using innovative PPC milling. However, more conventional procedures like drilling, face milling, post-processing of bores etc. are also used.
6. Quality assurance In order to ensure dimensional accuracy of the components, traditional measuring tools, like calipers and various gauges, are used. In additive manufacturing especially, a magnifier with scale is used, for example in order to check the layer thickness in the FDM process.
Maintenance / workstations & storage
Correct personal protective equipment is important during maintenance work on the machines, as highly flammable substances are being handled and as the focus is on protecting people. The Hoffmann Group can help you to fully meet this requirement with its "High End" range of PPE products.
Workstations and storage equipment are relevant in many process steps, for example for standardised and clean storage of the tools needed for post-processing and for setting up.