AMS 2024

Metal AM with a Focus on Lifetime and Wear Resistance

Metal AM Markets
AMR Military

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For fifteen years Swedish VBN Components has been developing extraordinarily hard and wear resistant alloys. From 7 –10 November you will be able to meet VBN at Formnext Frankfurt, Hall 12, Booth 131. They have a range of five alloys, and in the past years, showstoppers like “The world’s hardest steel” and “The world’s first 3D printed cemented carbide” have drawn attention and expanded the company’s customer base. A year ago, VBN reported about their long-going collaboration with global leader SKF, and more official customers have followed since. VBN’s alloys increase lifetime of metal components, and in some applications it is also more cost-efficient to manufacture the component itself, compared to traditional production.

Vibenite® 150, Punches and Dies at PrimeBlade Sweden

Vibenite® 150 is a multi-purpose, wear-resistant PM steel with high toughness. Is has a fine-grained Fe matrix with small, well-dispersed carbides and a hardness of 58-64 HRC (600-780 HV). The excellent fatigue resistance is unique and results in increased lifetime in many applications. It works well for functional prototypes, parts difficult to machine, tool holders, cold work applications with demands on both wear resistance and toughness, plastic materials processing tools or wear parts.

In the beginning of 2023 VBN announced that their customer PrimeBlade Sweden AB, world leaders in doctor blades for the printing industry, is using punches and dies in Vibenite® 150. Switching to Vibenite® makes them save ~ 50% of their costs, compared to using a traditional top steel for die-cutting doctor blades. The doctor blades are used to remove excess paint from anilox rolls in a printing process of the packaging industry globally. In September 2023 VBN and PrimeBlade hosted two webinars where they presented their collaboration.

Die-cutting of doctor blades with Vibenite® 150.

License for special machining tools

At the end of 2022 VBN signed a license agreement with one of the largest manufacturers of special machining tools in the Czech Republic. ANAJ Czech, a.s. has been successfully operating on the market for over 25 years and is a well-established player in Eastern Europe and in Germany. ANAJ will develop semi-finished tools for gear manufacturing (i.e. gear hobs and power skiving tools), using Vibenite® materials. In a later phase focus will also be on the development of tools for machining of non-ferrous alloys (Al, Ti and Mg).

Blank of power skiving tool ground into final dimension.

Improving tools for soil preparation

Additive manufacturing (3d-printing) is tested and established in many industries, but so far untested in the agricultural machinery segment. Within the framework of the strategic innovation program Metallic Materials, three actors have now joined forces to remedy this and improve the tools for soil preparation in the AMjord project. VBN Components, Väderstad Components and the Tribomaterials group at Uppsala University will now develop more wear-resistant cultivator points.

Vibenite® properties will be utilised in the hope of increasing the lifetime of the points mounted on cultivators for soil preparation. When studying the wear process, Väderstad will have the main responsibility for field trials and Uppsala University for laboratory testing, analysis, and knowledge building. The performance of the implements used today differs significantly depending on the soil type. Additively manufactured points in Vibenite® have the potential to wear less than the steels already in use, which will now be investigated in the project. In addition, additive manufacturing allows for rapid production of specimens with different properties. The project is unique in its kind and is expected to increase the competitiveness of Swedish industry.

New and worn cultivator point (Väderstad Components AB).

Future development

VBN has been constantly expanding its sales channels and networks and is today collaborating with partners and consultants in different European countries as well as in North and South America, and Asia. Right now the company has a focus on streamlining production processes even further, as well as on developing even tougher materials, which will be quite an achievement considering that Vibenite® materials are already unexpectedly tough in relation to their hardness. Recently, a URQ-HIP heat treatment machine was purchased, which gives more control of the production process and reduces lead times even further. New recruitments are planned, and VBN even supervises a PhD student in collaboration with Uppsala University for material research.

“It is impressive to see how a small team from Uppsala is so well-known for its unique materials and production technology for wear-resistant applications. From having most of our sales activities in Europe, we are now seeing increasing business in North America, and we recently participated at the IMTS and Rapid + TCT trade shows in Chicago. Our activities in Japan and Korea are also creating new opportunities. The demand for hard, additively manufactured materials is high, both in the food and process industries, as well as in the automotive, defence and tooling sectors. This growing demand, in combination with our continuously improving offer, speaks for an exciting future!”, says Magnus Bergman, CEO of VBN Components.

The new heat treatment machine will give more control of the production process and reduce lead times even further.

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