A novel approach to additive manufacturing, an iPad for machine tools and 66 different machine tool demonstrations were part of the draw of a DMG MORI open house in Pfronten, Germany, for more than 6,000 manufacturers from around the world, among them more than 40 Canadians.
The event was held February 18-22.
“We’re looking at what’s new in machining technologies, says Eugene, Kobas, section manager for BC Instruments, Barrie, ON, whose company recently underwent an expansion to a new facility and the purchase of new machine tools. “We’re looking at the additive manufacturing machine. We’re not sure if it’s for us, but we need to speak to someone about the technology. We’re trying to follow developments in this because when we first looked at additive manufacturing it was a powder bed machine, but what DMG Mori has is different.”
Daniel Medrea, managing director for DMG Mori Seiki Ellison Technologies in Canada, says customers representing 25 companies from Canada are not necessarily interested only in new technologies. Instead, they’re interested in how they can use new and existing technologies to make productivity improvements.
“High productivity comes from what you can do with the machine. We took a landing gear part Noranco, Woodbridge, ON, was manufacturing to our Aerospace Centre for Excellence here in Pfronten, Germany to improve the present process. It was taking them over sixty hours to make this part, but when we made it on one of our duoBlock machines equipped with a gear box spindle and the hard metal machining package, we were able to make the same part with a high quality finish in just over 22 hours. That’s how you improve productivity.”
A different approach to additive manufacturing
While most additive manufacturing machines are based on a stand alone laser sintering or laser melting process, DMG MORI is using a generative laser deposition welding process combined with a full simultaneous five axis milling machine.
“There is no additive manufacturing process today for metal parts that gives you good accuracy and good surface finish,” says Friedmann Lell, sales director for DMG MORI’s Sauer Lasertec division, based in Pfronten, Germany.
Instead of a bed of powdered metal, the Lasertec machine uses a powder nozzle for the laser deposition welding process. Since it’s a nozzle instead of a powder bed, the powdered metal melts directly on the areas required to build the part layer by layer. As well, because the deposition rate is up to 3.5 kg/h, it is considered 20 times faster than the laser generation of parts in a powder bed, according to DMG MORI.
And the added five axis milling function provides more flexibility, adds Lell, because once the part is created via the additive manufacturing process, additional machining requirements such as milling of holes can be done on the same machine. The laser and nozzle head are fitted into an HSK toolholder of the milling spindle. The laser and nozzle can be automatically parked in a secure docking station while milling operations are performed.
The machine on display at Pfronten does not have a fixed price because it is essentially a prototype to show customers the feasibility of the process, says Lell. “The final machine will look different. We will design a new laser head that can be positioned completely out of the machining area so we can mill with a coolant, which isn’t possible at this point in the development.”
The company is also exploring different nozzle diameters for different applications.
“We’ve started with a universal five axis milling machine but it can also work for turn mill applications for more cylindrical parts,” explains Lell.
Medrea says the technology has captured the attention of many Canadians, including the owner of a company from Quebec and a representative from the University of McMaster, who both attended the Pfronten open house to see the additive manufacturing machine.
“iPad for machine tools”
CELOS made its debut at EMO in Hannover, Germany, last September, but it still garnered a lot of attention from attendees at the open house.
DMG MORI’s managing director for the Canadian operation Daniel Medrea describes it as “an iPad for machine tools.”
CELOS is an enhanced human machine interface that features a variety of apps for integrated management, documentation and visualization of order, process and machine data such as Status Monitor, Job Manager and Job Assistant. The system is compatible with PPS and ERP systems, and can be linked to CAD/CAM applications. The system includes 12 different apps and is available as an option on all new DMG MORI machines.
Small is big
For many Canadian manufacturers involved in job shop work, small, but powerful machines are a must because of limited floor space and the need to remain competitive. The new CTX beta 800 TC that had its world premiere at the Pfronten open house is a good example. The turn-mill machine features a compact turning-milling spindle for minimum space requirement with a 20 per cent higher torque. A new B axis provides 170 mm space gain for through-drilling or boring of 150 mm long workpieces. The work area range is 350 mm to centre of spindle and has off-centre machining with a 200 mm stroke in the Y axis, providing machining for large workpieces up to 500 mm in diameter and 800 mm in length.
Among the additional machines making their world premiere at Pfronten were the DMC vertical machining centres, DMC 650 V, DMC 850 V and DMC 1150, which feature basic spindle speeds of 14,000 rpm with optional speeds up to 24,000 rpm, rapid traverse speeds of 36 m/min on all axes, and a SK 50 spindle with 303 Nm for heavy duty chip removal and the capable of machining workpiece weights up to 1,500 kg.
The price is right
In recent years, machine tool builders have focused more on developing machines with higher quality features at an economical price. DMG MORI’s offering in its ecoline series is the new DMU 70 ecoline, an entry level universal milling machine for five sided machining. It has longer axis travels of 750 x 600 x 520 mm in X, Y and Z, a NC swivelling rotary table with a diameter capacity of 800 x 620 mm to accommodate loads up to 350 kg.
“We can see that there is a demand for high class machines in this price segment,” says Ralph Christnacht, managing director for Ecoline, in a recent DMG MORI publication. “We will continue to expand our product portfolio and already have a few things in the pipeline that we intend to launch on the market in the next one to two years.”