Hankook Unveils Cutting-Edge 3D Printing Hub in Korea’s Daejeon Tech District

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Hankook Precision Works, a subsidiary of the Hankook & Company Group (formerly Hankook Tire), has inaugurated the “3D Printing Convergence Technology Center” at the Korea Engineering Lab in the Yuseong district of Daejeon Metropolitan City, Korea. This strategic move boosts Hankook’s efforts to find new business opportunities with 3D printing technology.

In collaboration with the 3D printing specialists TerraWorks the new center spans roughly 200 square meters and is equipped with an array of 3D printing devices and other testing equipment. An expert team of 15 specialists will manage the design, production, and post-processing stages employing 3D printing techniques.

The company will leverage the state-of-the-art center to boost its precision tire mold parts technology. Moreover, there are plans to expand its domestic mold market share by developing and mass-producing new products incorporating this technology, mainly focusing on Kerf (the fine grooves on a tire’s surface) and tire molds. This is reminiscent of the work that Michelin explored more than a decade go that resulted in the launch of AddUp, born of the French tire giant’s 3D printed tire molds.

3D printed Kerf is gaining traction due to its advantages when applied in the manufacturing process of tires for electric and high-performance vehicles. These benefits include noise reduction, improved grip, and enhanced handling. Currently, the 3D printed mold, which is undergoing feasibility tests for mass production, is expected to reduce tire manufacturing duration compared to conventional molds substantially. Also, when used like a puzzle piece mold, it can make really good tires every time.

3D printed tire molds. Image courtesy of Hankook Precision Works.

Hankook Precision Works has ambitious plans to continue its expansion, investing more in the 3D printing domain and pushing for the discovery of new business opportunities rooted in this technology. Earlier this year, Hankook’s hardware platform subsidiary Model Solution and Prototech, a domestic 3D printing firm, inked an agreement to escalate rapid prototyping and the 3D printing parts industry.

The larger Hankook Tire is the seventh largest tire company in the world, with $6.33 billion in revenues and over 21,000 employees globally. Founded in 1973, Hankook Precision Works has maintained its leadership in the mold manufacturing sector, with a particular emphasis on tire mold parts. The company’s dedication to innovation became evident in 2015 when it became the first Korean firm to adopt a metal 3D printer. Using EOS M290 machines, it produces intricate shapes that optimize process times. Their product range includes turbo equipment, turbochargers, and impellers, serving industries like aerospace, defense, and automotive. And among significant clients are LG Electronics, the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM), and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), among others.

Tire molds. Image courtesy of Hankook Precision Works.

In general, the tire sector is excited about the possibilities of 3D printing to create distinctive and personalized tire treads. South Korea’s precision tire mold parts industry plays a crucial role in its prominent automotive sector, supported by the global dominance of brands like Hyundai and Kia. The nation boasts a robust infrastructure, including suppliers and manufacturers specializing in the precision mold parts essential for tire production. Despite fierce competition from major automotive players such as China and Japan, South Korea continues to differentiate itself through its relentless commitment to quality and innovation. People all over the world want these parts, and many Korean companies are selling them to car makers everywhere.

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