3D metallic printing
The use of 3D metallic printing technology in the production of tools
for car manufacturing
Colleagues from the PSW-F Metallurgical Tool Production department managed to significantly advance the productive use of 3D metallic printing technology during the last year. This method produces parts with complicated shapes of cooling channels, which may be unmanufacturable by conventional methods. 3D metallic printing technology makes it possible to create kinked or spiral hole. This si what is used for the production of shaped positions with conformal cooling for better cooling of aluminum die-casting mold parts. Conformal cooling shortens the solidification time of the casting in the mold and thus increases productivity in the metallurgical department.
This technology is not currently in the phase of serial production of parts. Its use is currently ideal for the production of prototype parts and parts that cannot be produced using the classic method. The production of serial tools using 3D metallic printing technology is still more expensive than the technologies are currently used. 3D metallic printing will move the project forward enormously if it produces an originally unmanufacturable part, which can ultimately reduce the total cost of production. Now we want to test new materials, try to realize bionic structures, and deploy additively manufactured parts more and more often in series molds. An example of direct printing from aluminum alloy is the gearbox housing, on which the new bearing arrangement was tested during development.
Other activities of the PSW-F unit, which are connected with this technology, are educational events. These events serve to broaden the horizons of 3D metallic printing and to transfer this experience within Škoda Auto a.s. For this purpose, colleagues regularly participate in meetings of 3D printing groups in Wolfsburg and Ingolstadt. They also participate in professional conferences where they present their results and organize internal workshops for the company’s employees in order to raise awareness of this modern technology.
The principle of printing consists in the fact that fine steel granules with a diameter of 20 μm – 80 μm are applied in layers with a thickness of 50 μm and are literally “sintered” into the desired shape with a 400W laser according to the software program. It could be compared to a machine tool, but in this case the machining tool is not a knife, but a laser beam. Everything takes place in a protective atmosphere. It depends on the type of powder used as a feedstock. The construction time of such a part depends on its size – it ranges in the order of days. And what about the question of accuracy, which is so crucial for the
While in some other operations the accuracy of the parts from the 3D printer is sufficient, for the extremely precise Tool Shop it is not yet, therefor all the parts are printed with an addition and are heading for final processing. However, the results are becoming more and more positive.
3D metallic printing – production of a mold part for casting the engine block by additive method.
Another goal is the purchase of the machine itself, of course, assuming an adequate economic return.