ThinKing January 2016: Lightweight tools boost productivity.



New additive manufacturing designs can reduce weight by half

External reamers are predestined for lightweighting: the lighter they are, the more effectively they work – particularly when machining small-diameter shafts. The Aalen-based company MAPAL Dr. Kress KG is one of the first companies in the industry to make use of the additive production process of selective laser melting to reduce the weight of tools – by more than half in the case of external reamers. The additive manufacturing technology is ready to go into serial production in MAPAL.

The Development Agency for Lightweighting Baden-Württemberg presents this innovation in the January 2015 edition of ThinKing. Leichtbau BW GmbH uses this label to showcase excellent lightweight technology products and services from Baden-Württemberg.

A conventionally produced tool made of steel which is used to machine a diameter of 8.5 mm already weighs 400 grams. This weight and the resulting sluggishness significantly restrict maximum potential cutting speeds. Using a specially developed ribbed structure inside the tool itself, for which a patent has been applied for, it is now possible with laser melting to manufacture external reamers weighing 172 grams, in other words less than half their previous weight. This is all comes down to new design options which were not previously available.

Machining is now faster and more precise with laser-sintered external reamers. This results in a significant increase in production and added value for the customer.

MAPAL external reamers are used to machine control pistons in automatic transmissions. MAPAL external reaming tools can be used to work external diameters and shafts rationally and with high precision on machining centres, single and multi-spindle machines. In effect, these tools switch the MAPAL principle of cutting edges and guide pads from outside to the inside, while guaranteeing optimum support for external machining.

The cutting forces are optimally absorbed using guide pads so that no displacement forces and bending moments are exerted on the workpiece. This is particularly important when working long and thin workpieces.

MAPAL has been researching the additive manufacture of tools since 2013. As one of the first manufacturers of cutting tools, MAPAL has invested in a 3D printer and, with Selective Laser Melting (SLM), is taking a wholly new approach to the production of tools which cannot be manufactured optimally or not at all by conventional means. And the company is successful. It was only about twelve months after the first 3D printer was commissioned that the patent application was made.

The Managing Director of the Development Agency for Lightweighting Baden-Württemberg says: “Lightweight technology is a predestined application for additive manufacturing. The process allows structural designs to be made which were previously unachievable and consequently enables what were once unobtainable reductions in weight. For example, it is now possible to make bionic structures which would have been unthinkable in the past. Additive manufacturing also enables functions or components to be integrated. The method also very efficiently only uses materials which are absolutely necessary."


About MAPAL Dr. Kress KG

MAPAL Präzisionswerkzeuge Dr. Kress KG is an internationally leading provider of precision tools for cutting almost any kind of material. The company was founded in 1950 and has since been supplying prestigious customers, predominantly from the automotive and aerospace industries as well as mechanical and plant engineering. The family company’s innovations are settings trends and standards in production and machining technology. MAPAL understands its role as that of a technology partner which supports its customers by developing efficient and resource-saving machining processes with individual tool concepts.