The Ceratizit Group, Mamer, Luxembourg, has won the 2020 Innovation Award of the FEDIL business federation in the Process category for the development of a new process for the Additive Manufacturing of tungsten carbide-cobalt.
The group explains that the production of additively manufactured parts from plastic, metal and other material has continued to grow in importance over the last few years, but this has not been the case for cemented carbide. According to Ceratizit, there had not been a reliable process so far that achieved the same standard of quality as the manufacturing processes that had been established and optimised over decades.
With its newly developed process, the group states that it not only achieves the customary quality of products manufactured by pressing and machining, but can also respond better to customer requirements.
One of the main advantages of the Additive Manufacturing of cemented carbide is the time and cost savings during the critical ramp-up of products in small batches and of high complexity, such as the manufacturing of prototypes. By producing the geometry directly from the design software, AM allows for fast planning and implementation of projects without the use of production-intensive shapes and dies as well as expensive, diamond-tipped tools, required for the machining of carbide parts.
A further key benefit is the wider range of possible shapes due to the direct production of free-form contours which go beyond the limits of traditional manufacturing processes. Ceratizit explains that thanks to the new process, geometries can now be manufactured that were previously considered unfeasible. These include structures that have undercuts or areas inaccessible to cutting tools such as cavities and channels inside the finished body which cannot be accessed from outside at a later stage. This innovation enables a higher degree of component complexity as well as a deeper level of integration while at the same time reducing the number of assemblies and individual components.
Dr Ralph Useldinger, Ceratizit Head of R&D, commented, “Additive Manufacturing of carbide products provides us with more flexibility in terms of implementing customer requirements and opens new design possibilities, which we can use to offer our customers highly optimised, individual solutions in minimum time. This also includes active support in optimising product design.”