EOS/GF Machining Solutions Two companies reinventing the way we work
Germany/Switzerland - Additive manufacturing enables the production of metal mould inserts that feature conformal cooling to ensure and control temperature homogeneity for shorter cycle times. GF Machining Solutions and EOS collaborate to integrate AM into companies’ production process. By Barbara Schulz
Listening to Dr. Hans J. Langer talk about his business leaves no doubt why the company he founded in 1989 evolved into a market leader in metal additive manufacturing (AM): passion. “Last year we sold more machines than all our competitors in the industrial metal additive manufacturing market together,” he said at a meeting at EMO in Milan last month.
Massive growth in manufacturing applications
“We see explosive growth. We have doubled our business over the last two years to more than €260m and grown our installed base for DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering) from approximately 400 to 800 systems in the same period.”
“That doubling of our business is due to moving into manufacturing applications, rather than prototyping,” Langer continues. “But it is not a plug-and-play technology, it is a complicated, high-end technology.”
EOS laser sintering-based AM technology has been around for more than 20 years and has been successfully applied in many different industries. It has more recently made its way into mould making, mainly for the integration of conformal cooling channels in moulds and mould inserts. In injection moulding, the cooling time of a finished product can constitute up to 70% of the cycle time in series production. Using EOS' DMLS allows a mould maker to integrate optimised, conformal cooling channels into the mould during the production process. This ensures faster and more even heat dissipation. It reduces thermal stress in the mould and prolongs service life. Langer reports that some of his customers have reduced their cycle times by more than 50%; a quick return on investment considering the relatively low cost of the machine compared to the whole injection moulding process.
But of course AM is not employed as stand-alone technology in the mould shop. “Many solutions we have developed together with our customers are a combination of additive and substractive manufacturing processes,” Langer says. “So from a strategic perspective it was a logical step to partner with one of the leading machine tool companies in the mould and die sector, in this case GF Machining Solutions.”