ThinKing March 2020: Making machine downtimes a thing of the past



How a 3D printed component has led to a seven percent increase in the degree of utilization of a machine tool.

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The machining process needed to manufacture valve sleeves generates a large amount of chips. If these are not removed properly, the machine tool comes to a standstill and production is halted. So why not make use of the potential of additive manufacturing (AM) and design a component that is better suited to the job? The engineers at BURGMAIER Technologies GmbH & Co. KG in Germany have done just this and have thereby become a real AM success story: Since installing their new component, their machine tool has not stood still even once – generating annual savings in the high five figures.

The Development Agency for Lightweighting Baden-Württemberg presents this innovation in its March 2020 edition of ThinKing. Under this label, Leichtbau BW GmbH provides a platform every month for new innovative lightweighting products or services from Baden-Württemberg.

At a glance:
Degree of utilization has increased by seven percent – high five-figure savings per annum
- Full utilization – no more downtimes
- Production and development costs were amortized within a few days
- Reduced process chain: no need for part washing after the machining process

„Burgmaier is a perfect example of the significance of lightweighting as a key technology that can no longer be ignored by mechanical and plant engineers”, says Dr. Wolfgang Seeliger, Managing Director of Leichtbau BW GmbH in Stuttgart. Burgmaier’s newly developed component performs its task much better than the previous solution while creating added value and reducing production costs. BURGMAIER Technologies GmbH & Co. KG manufactures several million valve sleeves per year through machining. The company’s previous multi-spindle lathe featured two common air outlets to ensure that chips and oil were blown off the components, before a robot automatically transferred the component to a connected testing unit. “On average, however, the machine would come to a standstill five times per shift, as not all the chips could be removed and the testing unit would then interrupt the manufacturing process”, explains Ken Krauß, Head of Additive Manufacturing at Burgmaier. To reduce scrap and eliminate the frequent need for resolving this issue manually, the Additive Manufacturing team set about designing a new outlet channel. The component passes through this channel after the machining process. The openings in this outlet channel allow the compressed air to reach the valve sleeves from all sides, thus removing the chips without leaving any residue.

Burgmaier designed six different versions of this outlet nozzle and produced them with their own printers using the casting alloy AlSi10Mg. In subsequent field tests of the new outlet nozzles on the machines, the results were more than impressive, as Ken Krauß proudly recalls: “Due to their geometry, the only way we could manufacture the nozzles was by using AM. Once they were installed, machine downtime was reduced to zero. The degree of utilization thus increased by seven percent.” He expects to see annual cost savings in the high five figures. „This is a real competitive advantage and an example of a best practice for the use of additive manufacturing in mechanical engineering“, Wolfgang Seeliger adds.

„We have done the math: The production and development costs for the outlet channel were amortized within a few days”, Ken Krauß explains. In addition, the new blow-off device makes significantly less noise than the previous solution. The cleaning result, too,is considerably better. „The chips and the oil are both removed very well, meaning that we can omit the subsequent washing cycle”, Ken Krauß continues. The new component has been designed as an improvement to the company’s own machinery. „Our Additive Manufacturing division is more than happy to use their expertise to develop optimized components for the machinery and equipment of our customers, and to manufacture these parts using AM”, Ken Krauß concludes.

BURGMAIER Technologies GmbH + Co KG
The company, which is based in Allmendingen, Germany, is a leading manufacturer of high-precision parts. With more than 800 employees working in development, design, manufacturing, assembly and quality assurance, Burgmaier ships around 350,000 parts per day. Statistically, this means that every European car contains five parts that were manufactured by Burgmaier. The company combines its longstanding process expertise in the subtractive manufacturing of parts with new additive manufacturing processes to offer components from a single source. Through its Additive Manufacturing division, the family-owned company offers services along the entire AM process chain.