Meusburger Inaugural tool and mould making days a great success

Author / Editor: Florian Stocker / Barbara Schulz

Austria - From 12 to 13 October 2016, Meusburger hosted its inaugural tool and mould making days in Bregenz, Austria. Organised in cooperation with VDWF and Form + Werkzeug, the event featured presentations and and had participants discussing trends, issues and developments in the industry.

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The inaugural Meusburger tool and mould making days held from 12-13 October 2016 were a successful event.
The inaugural Meusburger tool and mould making days held from 12-13 October 2016 were a successful event.
(Source: Meusburger)

From 12 to 13 October 2016, Wolfurt-based standard parts manufacturer Meusburger hosted its inaugural tool and mould making days in Bregenz, Austria. Organised in cooperation with the industry association VDWF and Form + Werkzeug, the event featured presentations and an exhibition and had participants discussing trends, issues and developments in the industry.

The event’s location already exemplified its general theme, as the festive air of the Festspielhaus Bregenz with its sea stage already set visual standards. Technical standards, on the other hand, were the event’s lead theme, as the very first lecture, a keynote by Meusburger’s Gerhard Krammel titled “Standardisation in tool making” already showed. In his speech, he underlined the Wolfurt company’s claim to “aim to realise significant time and cost savings through consistent and continuous standardisation of products and processes, thus creating a key prerequisite for long-term business success.”

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Andreas Sutter, head of marketing at Meusburger, explained the concept behind the new event: “The idea was to create an event in our home region that deals with tool and mould making topics and takes place in years when there is no Fakuma.”

A quick glance at the event’s agenda made clear that there were more than enough topics to discuss. A focus was placed on process standardisation, automation and other digitisation, which were repeatedly discussed in the following presentations. The first day’s sessions were mostly about punching tool making, those on the second day about mould making. Also, the concluding panel discussions on both days discussed to what extent Industry 4.0 will permanently change tool and mould making.

How the industry views this development was illustrated already more clearly in the event’s second session: Bernd Krebs, Managing Director of Toolcraft, saw tool and mould making currently positioned somewhere “between evolution and revolution”, whereby he personally leaned rather toward the latter, i.e. “revolution”. Proof for the latter can be found in Toolpark’s machinery, where robotics and 3D printing are areas of rapid growth. The company now uses six laser melting facilities and Krebs believes that technology will require significantly higher investments in the future.

In the face of increasing competitive pressure Industry 4.0 is important

In the German tool and mould making industry, Toolcraft is viewed as an all-rounder, serving a diverse customer base in areas including medical technology, motor sports, aerospace, semiconductor and special machines. According to the company, they have already focused on digitisation and automation at a very early stage. Through their subsidiary Unicam, Toolcraft have also incorporated their own software company and continue to invest in the advancement of Industry 4.0 in their business: “CAD, CAM and robotics are only just the beginning, but in the face of increasing competitive pressure, everybody should commit to it”, said Krebs. Moreover, standardisation would still be in sought after in tool making.

Andreas Wagle from Makino talked about “Reduction of manual post-processing in tool and mould making”. He presented solutions that could reduce or even completely avoid the need for costly post-processing. According to the company, these solutions can help to reduce a tool’s or mould’s total process costs. Walbert pointed out that many elements provided by Makino, ranging from geometrically optimised basic machine set-up to the relevant expertise in application technology and consequently the CAM system and to application support, would contribute to producing a steel image of the design data with the highest possible accuracy.

Between presentations, the more than 200 visitors of the event could inform themselves about the products and services of 36 exhibitors. Numerous breaks gave visitors the chance to share their knowledge with each other. Both days ended with an hour-long boat trip on Lake Constance followed by dinner and live music.

Tool and mould making: from craft to industrial production

A highlight of the second day was the presentation by VDWF President Thomas Seul, who discussed the challenges and opportunities German, Austrian and Swiss manufacturers are facing in the global tool and mould making markets. On the one hand, producers today can work ever more flexibly and accurately and significantly increase precision. On the other hand, this would also require further investments in their machinery. Seul concluded that “tool and mould making is moving ever further from a classic craft towards industrial production”

Seul repeatedly emphasised his core statement that “the others are good as well”. Citing various examples from emerging tool and mould making markets like China, Portugal or Mexico, he urged German, Austrian and Swiss producers facing ever-increasing global quality and pricing pressure to remember their specific strengths: Expertise, qualified workers and particularly the ability to provide solutions to customers’ problems instead of just technology would be key to remaining competitive in current markets and opening up new markets. “Price and quality are a must, but service and reliability are the icing on the cake. I wish tool and mould makers would already be involved during the customer’s product development stage, to be able to evaluate the specific quality demands from the get-go and to find solutions in cooperation with the customer. We have a very high intellectual problem solving capacity, which is an advantage compared to other countries.”

The presentations following Thomas Seul's appeal were again more focused on specific solutions. PSG’s Andreas Kanamori presented the newly developed hot runner concept called Pipeline, which requires 80% fewer pipes and could thus ensure a significantly increased stability of the tool.

Rudolf Derntl of Hermle Maschinenbau GmbH talked about "Additive manufacturing with Hermle hybrid systems” and presented the MPA process, which combines the strengths of both subtractive and additive manufacturing and thus enables high deposition rates, an application on freeform surfaces and less clamping in the component. Also, the hybrid process would enable 3D multi-materials and the integration of hot wires and sensors in combination with cooling channels.

The venue in Bregenz was only a few kilometres from Meusburger’s Wolfurt headquarters and thus the ideal location for the standard parts manufacturer. It also gave interested parties the opportunity to gain a deeper insight in the Meusburger factory through a factory tour. Many visitors took advantage of this offer and made a short detour to Wolfurt, thus rounding off their event with additional practical examples.

“We are very happy about the positive feedback we received from visitors and exhibitors. The fact that the Tool and Mould Making Days were fully booked is a motivation for us to continue working with out partners to further establish this industry event”, concluded Andreas Sutter.