Software, tech and industrial giant Siemens has been making very significant investments – and closing very important partnerships – in the world of Additive Manufacturing, a family of technologies that the company views as absolutely strategic for the future. While these moves have directly involved all major AM technologies, after visiting the Siemens Additive Manufacturing Experience Center in the Nuremberg HQ, it seems clear that the company believes its software’s capabilities can bring the most benefits to deposition technologies: both extrusion (FDM) for composites and directed energy deposition (DED) for metals.
Powder bed fusion of metals and polymers remains a major concern but – in a way – the company sees these technologies as more mature and, while their potential for actual production is still limited by slow overall speed and process complexity, they can already deliver high-quality parts for high-end applications. In this sense, Siemens’ software is mostly used in these cases for PLM and MES. The potential of the deposition family of technologies, on the other hand, is still just beginning to be explored. Since the system’s movements are more similar to those of CNC’s, Siemens’ CAM software calculations can have a much more significant effect on both part quality and process efficiency.
In addition, the potential of DED (and polymer extrusion) technologies is more tailored toward part production due to the very high speed of material deposition and the virtually unlimited part sizes that could be obtained through multi-axes robotic deposition systems. In particular, Siemens’ focus is on hybrid systems. By combining additive (DED) deposition technology with subtractive (CNC) technologies, these high-end industrial systems can produce completely finished parts in record time. The fact that the Additive Manufacturing Experience Center has a €1.2 million DMD Mori Lasertec 65 Hybrid present on location for demonstrations clearly indicates that this represents a major area of study.
DED technology generally uses a laser energy source to melt metal powder as it is sprayed out of a nozzle. The molten powder is precisely deposited on a metal fixture, additively forming components layer after layer. The Lasertec 65 3D Hybrid system by DMG Mori offers greater flexibility through the combination of additive and milling machining process for 3D parts in finished quality. The laser head is handled by a fully automatic shuttle – without manual intervention. The system is built to be user-friendly and specifically developed software with an operator-orientated user interface and CELOS integration, with process monitoring for highest process safety and quality management.
The DMG Mori family of additive systems also integrates the Siemens NX complete hybrid CAD / CAM – module for additive and subtractive programming. The single software package covers the complete process chain (design, additive process, subtractive machining, finishing), which significantly reduces the development and thus time-to-market through complete PLM software integration, especially if changes are required during the design. The Siemens system includes exclusive LASERTEC build-up strategies – fully integrated into the CAD / CAM software including 3D simulation of machine and movements for collision prevention.
Siemens will provide the unique features to DMG as part of an ongoing agreement, set to last through 2019. After that – while several currently exclusive modules will become available to other manufacturers as well – the two companies will continue to closely collaborate and some features will remain DMG-Mori’s exclusives.
One of the most significant cases shown concerned the metal mold for production of a plastic drone body component. Laser DED technology is able to deposit molten metal on the printing plate as well as on existing parts. In fact, the technology was first used for part repairs through laser cladding. Using these capabilities, Siemens and DMG Mori showed that a broken section of the drone metal mold part could be reproduced by CNC milling in 8 hours, while it would take just 7 minutes through hybrid DED-CNC technology.
The Siemens Additive Manufacturing Experience center focuses on deposition technologies. When it comes to fully leveraging the paramteric CAD CAM capabilities of the Siemens software, however, powder bed fusion technologies clearly enable a greater level of geometric freedom. Working with HP’s MJF technologies, the company produced a component that war first designed through parametric software tools and then further optimized through generative functions. The result is the impressive looking part seen in the image above. The goal of the center is to enable all types of compnies to reap the benefits of AM through advanced process integration.