Sophisticated solutions in laser technology
With the LASERTEC 45 Shape and the LASERTEC 65 3D, DMG MORI offers two ground-breaking machines that are setting the benchmarks in the production of complex components.
DMG MORI has already installed over 500 of the LASERTEC machines developed by SAUER. The manufacturer has bundled together its many years of experience in laser machining - a field that ranks among the advanced technologies within the group – in the LASERTEC Excellence Center in Pfronten, Germany. The LASERTEC 45 Shape and the LASERTEC 65 3D are two results of this concerted work in laser technology. The development of these two models is a clear indication of DMG MORI’s timely recognition of the demands of the markets, to which it responds with sophisticated solutions.
Friedemann Lell, head of sales for the LASERTEC machines, connects the LASERTEC Excellence Center of DMG MORI with enormous synergy effects: “We benefit from the people in the Center both where development is concerned as well as with the preparation of offers.” A great help, as the sale of machines for laser processing has developed enormously. “Nowadays our range of services does not only involve the sale of machines, but also includes complete turnkey solutions, training, support and quarterly technical seminars where we deal with the latest topics in laser machining."
The extensive line-up of technologies in the LASERTEC section speaks for itself. The portfolio includes five technology segments: The PrecisionTool is best suited for the machining of cutting edges and clearance angles in diamond precision cutting tools. With its FineCutting solution DMG MORI enables high-precision laser fine cutting of sheet metal, tubes and 3D parts. The segment PowerDrill stands for the highly dynamic 5-axis laser drilling of cooling air holes in turbine components. The LASERTEC 45 Shape and the LASERTEC 65 3D in the segments Shape or rather Additive Manufacturing are among the latest developments currently being presented by the laser experts. The latter technology is a combination of laser deposition welding and 5-axis milling for the additive manufacturing of complete 3D components in finished part quality. The Shape technology uses 3D laser ablation for small integrate parts or to achieve defined textures in injection molding tools.
LASERTEC 45 Shape – economical and reliable with no tool wear
Shape technology is not only an extremely reliable as well as productive way of machining intricate structures; it can also have a sustainable impact on the manufacture of injection molding tools. Friedemann Lell tells us why: “Machining is carried out directly on the workpiece, so there is no longer any need for the separate machining of electrodes. This reduces production times enormously, especially where fine, detailed parts are concerned." The fact that there is no wear on the tools also contributes to process reliability and cost effectiveness. “And all this as of a batch size of one, because there are no tool costs and CAD data can be imported directly”, explains the head of sales.
Another application for Shape technology is the structuring of injection molding tools. This allows the texturing of irregular shapes (e.g. leather texturing) or geometric structures (e.g. pyramid structures). Creating geometric structures takes immense time and effort without laser or in some cases cannot be achieved at all.
In every specific application, the respective CAD data define the geometric textures to be applied on the component. This gives designers enormous scope where the design of the surfaces is concerned. Actual laser ablation is carried out in horizontal layers with thicknesses of between 0.3 and 10 µm depending on the laser and material. This allows the creation of 3D structures on the workpiece. What is more, these textures can be reproduced as often as desired. Friedemann Lell sees other areas of application for this process: “Even small tools can be produced directly with this technology. It is also suitable for miniature molds, stamping tools or the lettering and engraving of coins and medals.”
The new LASERTEC 45 Shape is just one more example of a great leap forwards in the sector of laser machining. The follow-up model of the LASERTEC 40 Shape impresses with its plus in versatility. The work area is 80 percent larger on the same size footprint. Travel and load capacity have also been significantly increased. There is now also a 5-axis version, which has space for components of up to ø 12 in x 8 in and weights of 220 lb. The A-axis has a swivel range of -100° to +120°. But the real technical highlight of the machine is the interaction of precision optics - consisting of a laser head with the latest scanner optics technology and a CCD camera - and the highly dynamic deflection mirrors. The boost in performance goes on to include the dynamics: rapid traverses of 60 m/min are more than three times faster than those of the predecessor machine.
LASERTEC 65 3D – Laser deposition welding and milling in a single setup
With its LASERTEC 65 3D SAUER has made an equally great step forward in the additive manufacturing segment. The absolute unique selling point of the LASERTEC 65 3D is the combination of laser deposition and milling in a single setup. “This enables the production of highly complex components”, says Friedemann Lell. This technology opens up dimensions in construction that would have been unthinkable before, like many 3D geometries with undercuts or, for instance, conformal cooling of injection molding tooling. These cooling passages are made by laser deposition. In many cases this can allow the currently installed base of injection molding equipment to be operated at higher throughput by reducing the required cooling time for each “shot”.
The process of laser deposition and milling in a single setup is so cost-effective that it proves invaluable especially where the production of prototypes are concerned or in the small series production of complex lightweight and integral components. The head of sales knows all too well who is going to reap the benefits: “We envision applications in tool and mold construction, in aerospace, automotive as well as medical technologies.”
The way the LASERTEC 65 3D functions is as simple as it is ingenious: a powder nozzle is used to apply the metal powder – stainless steel or also many different alloys such as tool steel or nickel-based alloys – in layers onto the base material with which it then fuses in the melting point of the laser beam. This is nothing more than a high-strength pore and crack-free fusion bond. An inert gas prevents oxidation during the build-up process. After cooling a layer of metal forms, which can then be machined mechanically. This process also allows bimetallic depositions that can include copper cores to dissipate heat or hard-facing to resist wear.
Thanks to the combination of laser deposition and milling on a single machine this process can now be carried out in one and the same setup. “As both machining processes can be used alternately, many 3D contours can be produced completely without the need of any supporting geometry”, adds Friedemann Lell. He also makes a comparison with the conventional powder bed method: “Laser deposition welding is ten times faster! Whereby currently wall thicknesses of 0.06 in and 0.12 in are produced. And for final milling the component does not have to be re-clamped somewhere else.” Not only is this more cost-effective, it also ensures much higher machining accuracy.
DMG MORI unites all the advantages of the monoBLOCK concept from the machining center sector in the LASERTEC 65 3D. The manufacturer’s experience in the integration of laser heads from other machines has been put to good use here, as the automatic shuttle-handling for the changing of the laser head and the HSK 63 interface prove. However, Friedemann Lell stresses that the new machine is much more than the result of flexible technology integration: “For laser deposition welding we use a completely new laser head with integrated cooling, process monitoring and an integrated camera that controls the process optically and adjusts the laser power online.”
Aiming at a more extended range of applications with larger tools, DMG MORI added the LASERTEC 4300 3D to its portfolio last year. The machine supports larger work envelopes and offers 6-axis deposition as well as the capability to automatically change between various deposition heads. This allows miniature deposition heads to traverse complex cavities for repair, or large deposition heads to lay down ribbons of metal, up to 22 lb per hour. “The machine’s acceptance has transitioned from the stars towards the core of the earth as initial applications in New Space were driven by the ability to deposit multiple alloys in a single build, typically Copper and Nickel based alloys for nozzles, thrust chambers, and ignitors for the rocket motors. Support for deposition of Titanium drove the second wave of acceptance, this time in Aerospace structural applications. And now the ability to deposit dual alloys including abrasion resistant Tungsten Carbide or Cobalt-Chrome has found drilling applications in the Energy market”, says Dr. Greg Hyatt, Vice President & CTO, DMG Mori Seiki Advanced Solutions.
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