Lightweight construction is key technology for global sustainability

Intel­li­gent light­weight solu­tions are increas­ing­ly gain­ing ground in machine tool con­struc­tion. The main focus­es are on new geome­tries and mate­ri­als as well as sim­u­la­tion and 3D print­ing. Exhibitors at EMO Han­nover will be show­ing how prod­ucts can be designed and man­u­fac­tured to meet light­weight and sus­tain­abil­i­ty cri­te­ria based on a range of examples.

GM joined forces with Autodesk to develop the first 3D-printed and functionally optimised seat holder. Photo: GM
GM joined forces with Autodesk to devel­op the first 3D-print­ed and func­tion­al­ly opti­mised seat hold­er. Pho­to: GM

Light­weight con­struc­tion is a key ele­ment in any attempt to achieve more sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion. It begins long before the man­u­fac­tur­ing process itself and runs through the entire val­ue chain – from the raw mate­r­i­al to the fin­ished com­po­nent. Com­pa­nies there­fore need to address this issue at a cor­re­spond­ing­ly ear­ly stage. “Sus­tain­abil­i­ty is a key fac­tor in our com­pa­ny,” says Stef­fen Krause, Tech­ni­cal Sales Man­ag­er at soft­ware devel­op­er Autodesk. “Our mis­sion is to auto­mate cus­tomers’ design drafts and devel­op process­es which allow them to speed up and improve the design process – while reduc­ing the impact on the envi­ron­ment. With Autodesk tech­nol­o­gy, man­u­fac­tur­ers can improve their per­for­mance and help make the world a bet­ter place by increas­ing mate­r­i­al and ener­gy effi­cien­cy in their design and man­u­fac­tur­ing processes.”

Sus­tain­abil­i­ty and a com­mit­ment to envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion are a mat­ter of course for (and an impor­tant part of the cor­po­rate iden­ti­ty of) Hain­buch, the Mar­bach-based man­u­fac­tur­er of work­piece clamp­ing solu­tions. An “ener­gy pol­i­cy” has been anchored in the company’s envi­ron­men­tal guide­lines since 2016. “This helps us reduce emis­sions and waste, increase ener­gy effi­cien­cy, guar­an­tee the eco­nom­i­cal use of resources and reduce the emis­sions of haz­ardous sub­stances. This is because we want to devel­op and pro­duce prod­ucts which are not only high-qual­i­ty, but also envi­ron­men­tal­ly friend­ly and sus­tain­able,” explains Ste­fan Nitsche, Head of Prod­uct Man­age­ment at Hainbuch.

Light­weight con­struc­tion is an essen­tial pre­req­ui­site for mate­r­i­al efficiency
3D Micro Print GmbH in Chem­nitz spe­cialis­es in the pro­duc­tion of micro met­al parts using micro laser sin­ter­ing, and the sale of asso­ci­at­ed machines. For the Sax­ony-based com­pa­ny, sus­tain­abil­i­ty also involves devel­op­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing prod­ucts with inte­grat­ed func­tions which cre­ate added val­ue for cus­tomers, but with­out com­pro­mis­ing the mate­r­i­al prop­er­ties of the com­po­nents when in use.

New geome­tries must inter­act with new mate­ri­als if prod­ucts are to be gen­er­at­ed which offer added val­ue in terms of light­weight con­struc­tion and sus­tain­abil­i­ty. Here, cus­tomers need pro­fes­sion­al advice to iden­ti­fy the crit­i­cal points in the prod­uct devel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing process­es,” empha­sizes Thomas Klotz, Head of Qual­i­ty Assur­ance at 3D Micro Print.

One thing is cer­tain, how­ev­er: with­out 3D print­ing, light­weight con­struc­tion is impos­si­ble in many areas, mak­ing it an essen­tial pre­req­ui­site for mate­r­i­al effi­cien­cy. In some cas­es it is even pos­si­ble to com­bine sev­er­al parts in the design stage to cre­ate a sin­gle com­po­nent. “Autodesk’s Gen­er­a­tive Design approach is an impor­tant tool that is often used to cre­ate new geo­met­ric shapes. It helps our cus­tomers to reduce weight and con­sol­i­date parts. Gen­er­al Motors, for exam­ple, com­bined this approach with addi­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing to redesign a seat mount,” says Krause, cit­ing the exam­ple of a com­po­nent that was devel­oped from the out­set with light­weight con­struc­tion in mind. “The new part con­sist­ed of just one com­po­nent instead of eight, as before. It was also 40 per cent lighter and 20 per cent more stable.”

Lighter and small­er clamp­ing devices reduce costs
Hain­buch has devel­oped ultra-light car­bon devices to clamp work­pieces dur­ing milling, turn­ing and grind­ing. Accord­ing to the com­pa­ny, these ensure high­er pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, low­er ener­gy con­sump­tion and reduce the strain on machine dri­ves. The mate­r­i­al used for the CFRP clamp­ing devices makes them up to two thirds lighter than the stan­dard version.

We can offer car­bon vari­ants of almost all clamp­ing devices for spe­cif­ic cus­tomer areas. In the mini series, we have also devel­oped chucks with a reduced inter­fer­ence con­tour and mass. These two fac­tors are play­ing an increas­ing­ly impor­tant role in fin­ish­ing. Mod­ern and future-ori­ent­ed clamp­ing devices are dis­tin­guished by their greater tool acces­si­bil­i­ty and low­er ener­gy con­sump­tion. Increased spin­dle accel­er­a­tion rates short­en the cycle times. This reduces the over­all costs per work­piece,” says Nitsche, describ­ing Hainbuch’s approach. At EMO Han­nover, the com­pa­ny will be exhibit­ing the light­weight Manok CFK man­u­al vice, the mini chuck series and many oth­er inno­va­tions that incor­po­rate sus­tain­abil­i­ty aspects.

3D Micro Print uses micro laser sin­ter­ing tech­nol­o­gy to pro­duce high-pre­ci­sion light­weight met­al micro­com­po­nents, offer­ing cus­tomers prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ing and a com­pre­hen­sive range of ser­vices from a sin­gle source. The port­fo­lio includes knowl­edge trans­fer, func­tion­al com­po­nent inte­gra­tion, process-ori­ent­ed design, the pro­duc­tion of ser­i­al parts and, on request, mate­r­i­al devel­op­ment. The process­es are designed for very high res­o­lu­tion and pre­cise micro­com­po­nents in the µm range. Fine grid struc­tures as well as geome­tries with detailed inter­nal struc­tures are devel­oped and man­u­fac­tured. The com­pa­ny is pre­sent­ing solu­tions for var­i­ous indus­tries at the EMO in Hanover.

Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence, Vir­tu­al and Aug­ment­ed Real­i­ty increase organ­i­sa­tion­al agility
Sus­tain­abil­i­ty and light­weight con­struc­tion are impor­tant because they offer clear val­ue chain advan­tages to mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing com­pa­nies and their cus­tomers. This is also con­firmed by the Autodesk Tech­ni­cal Sales Man­ag­er Stef­fen Krause: “The busi­ness of more than 60 per cent of our cus­tomers is based on suc­cess fac­tors and goals that are linked to sus­tain­abil­i­ty – and the num­bers are ris­ing. This approach is also passed on down the sup­ply chain to the ser­vice providers.”

With this in mind, Autodesk has also decid­ed to focus on automa­tion in the form of arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, vir­tu­al and aug­ment­ed real­i­ty, and 3D print­ing. This dig­i­tal­ly com­bines every­thing from design, mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing and sim­u­la­tion through to CAM, addi­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing and fac­to­ry man­age­ment. “This uni­form plat­form does away with the silos between the dis­ci­plines, enables greater organ­i­sa­tion­al agili­ty between the engi­neer­ing teams and gives the man­u­fac­tur­ers a com­pet­i­tive edge,” empha­sizes Krause.

The exhibits show­cased on the Autodesk stand at EMO Han­nover will give vis­i­tors an impres­sion of what the CAM soft­ware can do. Com­plex com­po­nents with free-form sur­faces will be on dis­play, demon­strat­ing the high sur­face qual­i­ty that can be achieved. Also includ­ed will be exam­ples of hybrid man­u­fac­tur­ing which com­bine addi­tive and sub­trac­tive process­es. On dis­play, too, will be exhibits that explore the options for gen­er­a­tive design.

With the right devel­op­ment tools and exten­sive engi­neer­ing knowl­edge, light­weight con­struc­tion can open up a whole world of pos­si­bil­i­ties. The only lim­its are those set by the laws of physics. “So far, we have been able to meet all cus­tomer require­ments. The lim­its of light­weight con­struc­tion, includ­ing reduced inter­fer­ence con­tours, are only reached when the hold­ing forces, rigid­i­ty and pre­ci­sion can no longer be guar­an­teed,” empha­sizes Ste­fan Nitsche of Hain­buch. Thomas Klotz of 3D Micro Print adds: “Light­weight con­struc­tion is cur­rent­ly reach­ing its lim­its in high­ly stan­dard­ised process­es and prod­ucts that leave no room for improve­ment in performance.”

Coun­ter­act­ing geo­met­ric devi­a­tions with mea­sure­ment data
3D met­al print­ing is also offered by Rolf Lenk Werkzeug- und Maschi­nen­bau GmbH in Ham­burg. Matthias Otte is in charge of addi­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing. He explains the impor­tant fac­tors in the man­u­fac­tur­ing process: “The com­po­nent must be dimen­sion­al­ly sta­ble. This means that any warpage and shrink­age caused by addi­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing must be coun­ter­act­ed. An impor­tant aspect here is opti­cal geom­e­try cap­ture. This allows us to check instant­ly for any devi­a­tions.” Opti­cal metrol­o­gy allows the com­pa­ny to sup­port the entire addi­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing process chain and thus pro­duce pre­ci­sion-fit com­po­nents. This begins with geo­met­ric mea­sure­ment of the com­po­nent, con­tin­ues with mea­sure­ment of any devi­a­tions caused by warpage and shrink­age, and ends with check­ing of the result­ing fin­ished com­po­nent. Any inac­cu­ra­cies in the tar­get geom­e­try can be detect­ed dur­ing pro­duc­tion. A rapid response can be con­duct­ed, if nec­es­sary. The com­pa­ny is pre­sent­ing its exper­tise in the field of 3D print­ing at EMO Han­nover, based on var­i­ous components.

Author: Annedore Bose-Munde, spe­cial­ist jour­nal­ist from Erfurt
Size: around 8,800 char­ac­ters includ­ing blanks

Categories: Allgemein