Global engineering group Sandvik has been investing in a wide range of 3D printing process technologies for metal components for years, with experience in 3D printing metals such as titanium alloys, tool steels like maraging, stainless, and duplex steels, cemented carbide, high-temperature materials, and nickel-based alloys. Now, the company is increasing its metal AM capacity with a significant investment, and announced at formnext 2018 that it has installed several RenAM 500Q quad laser 3D printers by Renishaw.
These new metal 3D printers are the perfect complement to Sandvik’s current systems, which include machines from Arcam, Concept Laser, EOS, and ExOne that use a variety of different methods and materials.
This expansion is on the heels of another investment by Sandvik in a new manufacturing plant for titanium and nickel 3D printing powders, which complements the company’s market-leading Osprey gas atomized metal powder range, showcased at formnext this week.
Use cases are rarely the same when it comes to 3D printing, as characteristics like flexibility, geometric complexity, hardness, strength, weight, and others can vary depending on the specific application. But Sandvik works across the whole value chain: all the way from component selection, design and modeling, and material choice to the optimal 3D printing method, post-processing, testing, and quality assurance.
“We refer to our process as ‘Plan it. Print it. Perfect it.’ Printing is only one of seven steps you need to master to obtain a perfect AM component. So, you have to think beyond printing to get the best possible value from additive manufacturing,” explained Kristian Egeberg, the President of Sandvik Additive Manufacturing.
While the design of a component certainly plays an important role in 3D printing, so too does the quality of material used. Sandvik, in its own words, has an “in-house capability” to make the broadest portfolio of alloys on the market, thanks to its Osprey metal powder range, in addition to the necessary know-how and expertise in metallurgy to customize the optimal material for whatever application is required.
Annika Roos, Head of the Powder Division in Sandvik, said, “We work closely with our customers to tailor alloys in line with their exact requirements, even for small batch print runs. Not only do we match the alloy to the purpose, we can also optimize the particle size for the chosen printing process.”
This week at formnext, which came to an end today in Frankfurt, Sandvik showcased several different 3D printing use cases with a variety of materials, process technologies, and post-processing methods, in addition to a selection of its Osprey powders. The 3D printed components on display are real industrial customer use cases, featured at various stages of development, and each of them was able to leverage the technology in order to deliver either improved effectiveness, functionality, performance, or productivity.
3D printed coolant clamps for Seco Tools, made from maraging steel, had internal curved channels for better lifespan and performance, while a titanium Sandvik Coromant CoroMill 390 milling cutter is up to 80% more lightweight, and 200% more productive.
Maraging steel sliding cases for LKAB Wassara were also on display at Sandvik’s booth. These two-pieces parts, 3D printed as a single unit, featured internal channels for underground hammer drilling, which helped to increase service life and improve performance. Finally, Varel nozzles 3D printed on-demand from cemented carbide had tailor-made threads which are long enough to be used for drilling in the oil and gas industry.
With its newly acquired Renishaw 3D printers, who knows what Sandvik will tackle next? The company is also looking for collaborate further with Renishaw in AM process technologies, materials development, and post-processing as well.
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