SMS Group GmbH, Düsseldorf, Germany, has been named as winner in the German Design Award 2019’s Industry category for a metal additively manufactured spray head. The spray head, the product of a joint development effort by the group’s Forging Plants Department, Additive Manufacturing Project Team and simulation technology experts, is used to cool dies in forging presses and is significantly smaller, lighter and more efficient than conventionally manufactured spray heads.
The German Design Award is given annually by the German Design Council to recognise innovative products and projects and the German companies or individuals behind them. Axel Rossbach, Research and Development Extrusion and Forging Presses, SMS Group, stated, “Winning the Design Award makes us extremely proud. It is recognition of many teams within SMS Group whose work is characterised by a highly interdisciplinary approach.”
“The spray head is a milestone innovation marking a new era in the design of plant and machine components, enabled by the game-changing potential of 3D printing and function-optimised design,” he continued. “The design of a machine part is today no longer limited by the constraints imposed by conventional – process-optimised – forming and machining techniques. Supported by latest software and computer technology, we can now give a component exactly the design that fulfils its designated function in the best possible way.”
“Another important aspect is that we have used new materials,” he added. “Therefore the Award honours not only a new design, but above all the new way of thinking lived within SMS Group, which has materialised in a global approach to Additive Manufacturing.”
Rossbach described the spray head as an example of how, in the digital age, different disciplines can interact, and of the opportunities Additive Manufacturing may hold in store. The component features flow-optimised channels to cool dies specifically and as-required in each individual case. Die areas subjected to intensive heating are cooled at a correspondingly – precisely calculated – higher rate than areas which are less hot.
“Although the spray head is only a small component, it nevertheless ideally represents the potential of Additive Manufacturing,” Rossbach explained. “The innovative manufacturing methods enabled by 3D printing form the basis for Industry 4.0. The example of the 3D printed spray head makes this clear and measurable. Made of plastics, it weighs only one tenth of what a conventional one would weigh. A 3D spray head made of metal weighs up to 70% less. It is less expensive, more efficient and can be easily customised and instantly produced.”
This provides multiple advantages for drop forging operations. Drop forging presses are continuously being optimised with a view to achieving the shortest cycle times and maximum service life for dies. Spray heads for cooling and lubricating dies perform a key function in the forging process, as without spray cooling dies would not be able to withstand the constant and extremely high stress which acts on them during operation.
Spray heads are introduced between the open dies awaiting the next forging stroke. According to SMS Group, the new AM spray head does not only provide a reduction in part weight and cost, but also reduces wear to the supporting arms used to introduce the spray heads between the dies. Due to the significantly lower mass of the component, cycle times for the process can be shortened.
The company stated that it also plans to additively manufacture current-conducting elements and sensors into the spray heads in future, making it possible to actuate the valves electrically and generate condition messages for the systems. Robert Banse, a member of the R&D Project Team at SMS Group, commented, “We are in no way restricted by any manufacturing constraints. Therefore we can adopt a creative technological approach to designing and start out from the function the component is going to perform. In other words: We develop the perfect design for the function at hand, knowing that it can be produced in the 3D printer.”