Toolcraft GmbH, a German manufacturing company, is planning to apply full five-axis additive manufacturing (AM) technologies in the future after a successful initial adoption of 3D printing processes and Siemens PLM software.

The firm purchased its first AM machine in 2011, some 22 years after it was established. Now, in addition to dozens of CNC machines, the company boasts a total of eight powder bed additive manufacturing machines, and is advancing to powder nozzle technology. Under one roof, Toolcraft can see the production of a part from design concept through to non-destructive testing, and is catering for customers operating in such fields as aerospace, automotive and healthcare.

Central to this success over the last few years has been the use of Siemens PLM software. With Siemens NX, Toolcraft has been able to better perform every step of the process chain in the manufacturing of parts. The workflow typically works by Toolcraft modifying a design supplied to it by the client, generating support structures and changing the angles of surfaces. Then, the part is printed, machined to remove the supports, and delivered back to the customer.

The company benefits from the traceability its engineers desire, with just the single software tool in use throughout the entire design and manufacturing process. They have also found it easier to communicate, and perhaps most importantly parts are higher in quality and accuracy.

“With Siemens NX, we work with only one file along the process chain,” commented Ralf Domider, additive engineering part designer, Toolcraft. “There is less complexity. You can work in less time and have a lower error rate. That’s the main advantage of Siemens NX. With Siemens NX, we can supply all of these systems and all of these machines – Trumpf, EOS, and Concept Laser.”

“We see that with Siemens NX, this is only the beginning,” added Christoph Hauck, Managing Director, Toolcraft. “We have high expectations that in the future a lot of our problems will be fully solved by Siemens.”

That future, Toolcraft confirms, is likely to see a shift from the powder bed additive manufacturing systems it is currently using, to five-axis AM hybrid machines. It makes sense for a company that has expertise in both additive and subtractive techniques to consider hybrid manufacturing solutions going forward, but through its experience with AM, will also look towards Siemens once again.

Source:TCT Magazine