by Noelle Stapinsky
Wallaceburg, Ont.-based AarKel, one of North America’s largest toolmakers, recently purchased its second EOSM400-1 Metal 3D printing machine from Canadian distributor Machine Tool Systems.
The toolmaker that specializes in plastic injection molds, compression molds and die cast tooling for the automotive industry, recognized the benefits of 3D printing to provide its customers with the complex geometries required for future electric vehicle production, and to make it more of a robust one-stop-shop. “As additive technology evolves every single day, 3D printing will enable multi-billion dollars’ worth of real world market opportunities in the next five years,” says Larry Delaey, president of AarKel. “The tooling industry has embraced this new technology and AarKel wants to take this to the next level and provide innovative solutions to our customers who can utilize the various benefits of 3D printing technology.
Delaey says that the purchase of a second EOSM400-1 machine was to help meet customer demand and allow the company to continue to develop processes that will provide customers with lower cost, higher quality solutions.
AarKel is currently testing powders. “We’ve maximized a powder with our laser technology to provide superior properties that are proven to meet and exceed H-13 material through many structural testing processes. And its hardness can be varied from 32-34 HRC up to 48-50 HRC depending on our developed heat treatment practices,” says Delaey.
The EOSM400-1 machines are capable of printing stainless steel, Inconel and aluminum, and AarKel plans on venturing into more exotic materials in the future.
“Additive manufacturing greatly helps us in solving tooling issues which need out of the box thinking. This technology allows us to provide innovative and efficient tooling strategies and helps customers bring down cycle times and improve the overall thermal efficiency of the tool,” says Delaey. “Conformal Cooling has been the obvious advantage to get additively manufactured products to market faster.”
Delaey admits, “Additive manufacturing currently may not always show the best ROI on inserts, but there are obvious benefits which traditional tooling cannot offer. With more research and development and as we continue to embrace this new technology, the pricing and manufacturing speed will significantly improve in the coming years. Additive manufacturing is the way to go forward.” SMT