Additive Manufacturing Strategies

VBN Components redefines wear resistance at METAV 2020

ST Medical Devices

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Swedish VBN Components is a pioneer in the metal 3D printing industry. For more than a decade the company has developed new materials with extreme wear and heat resistance. From 10-13 March you can have a closer look at their innovations like cemented carbide, the world’s hardest steel and multi-material printing in the Additive Manufacturing Circle at METAV, Düsseldorf.

Metal 3D printing has many advantages. It is far more environmentally friendly than traditional industry, and it makes product development almost as fast as you can come up with a new design. More complex shapes are possible, followed by new functions for industrial components. 3D printing with a high level of carbides was long considered “impossible”, but VBN Components has made it its niche, thereby redefining the notion of wear resistance for industrial components.

Gear hob in Vibenite® 280 reduces production cost by 30-40%.

Vibenite® materials are offered with a hardness between 58–72 HRC. Very fine and well-dispersed carbides make them both tougher and multiple times more wear resistant than traditional alloys. Components and tools are printed according to customer designs and may contain up to 65 vol% of carbides, depending on which Vibenite® material the customer has chosen. One Vibenite® material can also be printed upon another, or upon a traditional material, which is called Vibenite® Combo.

Vibenite® 290 3D printed upon Vibenite® 150, in order to combine different properties in a drill bit.

Since December 2018 VBN offers the cemented carbide Vibenite® 480, that combines the toughness of powder metallurgical high-speed steels (PM-HSS) with the heat resistance of cemented carbides. The carbides (65 vol%) are fine and well-dispersed, giving a structure with higher toughness than traditional cemented carbides. Long-term hot hardness has been measured to 750° C for this corrosion resistant material with a hardness of ~66 HRC.

“Many organisations with great resources are aiming at developing 3D printed cemented carbide that can actually be used for industrial components, but VBN Components is the only one that has actually succeeded”, says Dr. Ulrik Beste, Chief Technical Officer.

Today there are five materials in the Vibenite® portfolio. They are all based on metal powder produced through large scale, industrial gas atomisation, minimising both costs and environmental impact. In 2017 the material Vibenite® 290 attracted great attention. It has a carbide content of 25 vol% and its hardness of ~72 HRC gave it the name “the world’s hardest steel”. The alloy’s unique properties make it suitable for any type of application where erosion and abrasion are present, especially when adapted to metal cutting tools.

Hollow and light engine piston 3D printed with cemented carbide Vibenite® 480.

Vibenite® 350, a corrosion resistant material with a hardness of ~60 HR is ideally suited to plastic processing tools as well as pump impellers or valves, where there is a requirement for both complex shapes and high performance. The toughest material of the portfolio, Vibenite® 150, is ideal for tool holders, cold work applications or plastic materials processing tools. Like all Vibenite® materials, it can be used to increase wear resistance in your current applications.

Vibenite® 280 is especially suited for cutting applications like gear hobs, broaches or shaper cutters. It has proven to raise production capacity for industrial tools for instance in engine production (reduced production cost by 30-40% with Vibenite® gear hobs) and food production. Extreme erosive resistance has also been noted in customer applications.

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