GB Precision reports on the complexities of machining AM parts for high-precision tooling

January 22, 2018

January 22, 2018

GB Precision reports on the complexities of machining 3D printed parts for high-precision tooling

A component before, during and after machining at GB Precision (Courtesy GB Precision)


Specialist subcontract engineering company, GB Precision, Birmingham, UK, reports that it has been transforming additively manufactured parts into high precision tooling components at its Birmingham facility. The work is reportedly being undertaken for a customer in the high-volume, high-precision packaging sector, and highlights the potential benefits of Additive Manufacturing for tooling component consolidation, improved cooling performance and reduced price/performance of tooling overall.

The design improvement programme is being carried out in a multi-stage approach to ensure that each set of changes is completely tested before moving on to the next. The first stage was to amalgamate three conventionally machined components into a single additively manufactured one, said to have resulted in a 10% cost saving. Once this part was produced, GB Precision had the task of transforming it into a finished, high-accuracy, fine-tolerance component using its machining equipment.

When the AM parts first arrive at GB Precision the surface finish is often rough and granular. One of the first challenges, says GB Precision, is to determine where the machining datum should be. In addition, where conventionally the components would have been machined out of solid bar, making work holding straightforward, the AM parts have more complex shapes, meaning that both the machining process and work holding must be adapted.


GB Precision reports on the complexities of machining 3D printed parts for high-precision tooling

An additively manufactured component during machining (Courtesy GB Precision)


In addition, the material itself is said to pose significant machining challenges. GB Precision reported that it has had to experiment with speeds and feeds, depths of cut and differing finishing tools and grinding wheels, as the parameters used for conventionally machined parts do not always apply when machining additively manufactured parts.

Paul Turner, GB Precision Director, explained, “This has really been a ‘learning by doing’ experience. The first batch proved to be very much of an education: the sintered material was incompatible with the tools and roughing process that was used for the conventionally machined parts. However, we have overcome these problems and have developed a process that solves all these issues.”

“There is no doubt in my mind that a combination of laser sintering, conventional machining and surface treatments will provide significant cost, time and material savings and really is the future – and we are determined to be part of that future,” he concluded.

January 22, 2018

In the latest issue of Metal AM magazine

Download PDF

Extensive AM industry news coverage, as well as the following exclusive deep-dive articles:

  • Metal powders in Additive Manufacturing: An exploration of sustainable production, usage and recycling
  • Inside Wayland Additive: How innovation in electron beam PBF is opening new markets for AM
  • An end-to-end production case study: Leveraging data-driven machine learning and autonomous process control in AM
  • Consolidation, competition, and the cost of certification: Insight from New York’s AM Strategies 2024
  • Scandium’s impact on the Additive Manufacturing of aluminium alloys
  • AM for medical implants: An analysis of the impact of powder reuse in Powder Bed Fusion

The world of metal AM to your inbox

Don't miss any new issue of Metal AM magazine, and get the latest industry news. Sign up to our twice weekly newsletter.

Sign up

Discover our magazine archive…

The free to access Metal Additive Manufacturing magazine archive offers unparalleled insight into the world of metal Additive Manufacturing from a commercial and technological perspective through:

  • Reports on visits to leading metal AM part manufacturers and industry suppliers
  • Articles on technology and application trends
  • Information on materials developments
  • Reviews of key technical presentations from the international conference circuit
  • International industry news

All past issues are available to download as free PDFs or view in your browser.

Browse the archive

Looking for AM machines, metal powders or part manufacturing services?

Discover suppliers of these and more in our comprehensive advertisers’ index and buyer’s guide, available in the back of Metal AM magazine.

  • AM machines
  • Process monitoring & calibration
  • Heat treatment & sintering
  • HIP systems & services
  • Pre- & post-processing technology
  • Powders, powder production and analysis
  • Part manufacturers
  • Consulting, training & market data
View online
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap