Press containing additively manufactured hydraulic manifold block enters operation

June 29, 2020

The additively manufactured hydraulic manifold block, produced in aluminium alloy (Courtesy SMS Group GmbH)

SMS Group GmbH, headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany, has put into operation a 31.5/34-MN high-speed open-die forging press, which features a metal additively manufactured hydraulic manifold block,  at forging company Grimm Gustav Edelstahl-Werk GmbH & Co.KG, Remscheid, Germany. This is the first time the group has installed an additively manufactured machine component in an open-die forging press. The part is said to be lighter and more compact than the conventionally-manufactured alternative, and has a flow-optimised design.

Gustav Grimm specialises in manufacturing forgings in high-alloy materials and the new high-speed forging press is said to meet all the relevant requirements for this. Thanks to the built-in hydraulic and control systems, the company states that it can reap the benefits of higher process efficiency, as the new high-speed forging press achieves time savings of around 10% compared to the old press. 

The high-speed open-die forging press is equipped with a data monitoring system. All target and actual parameters are captured during the forging process. In the event of a fault, the SMS specialists can analyse the machine condition and operating data, and immediately perform remote fault diagnosis. The data monitoring system can also be used for process optimisation and quality assurance. 

For quick tool changes, the press is equipped with a hydraulic forging-tool changing device. As the die turning and clamping device now comes with significantly fewer mechanical components, it requires much less maintenance.

The hydraulic manifold block is used to distribute the hydraulic oil for operating and venting the cylinders. On the selection of this part for conversion to AM, SMS Group noted that hydraulic components with a fluid-conducting function, in particular, are perfectly suited to be additively manufactured due to the high degree of design flexibility that the technology offers.

“This new manufacturing technology enables not only the channels to be engineered for optimised flow but also the installation space and mass to be reduced as a result of the much more compact design,ˮ explained Nina Uppenkamp, Research and Development Engineer at SMS Group. 

When designing function-oriented parts for AM, modelling of the design starts from within the component, i.e. from the inside out. In the case of the manifold block, the fluid volume was first simulated and then the required wall thickness generated, so that material was used only where it is actually needed for functional reasons.

The hydraulic manifold block, designed by SMS group and made in an aluminium alloy, weighs just one-tenth of its conventionally manufactured, steel equivalent. 

An optimised valve arrangement takes into account the direct, optimised flow of fluid through the individual channels and provides easier access to the manual valves for maintenance. The monolithic component design is said to significantly reduce the number of potential leakage points, and despite its high complexity, the additively manufactured hydraulic manifold block can be delivered much quicker than its steel equivalent, stated SMS group.

Götz Grimm, CEO of Gustav Grimm, stated, “With our new open-die forging press from SMS group, we can manufacture customised forgings of highest dimensional accuracy for our clients and expand our product mix even further. What impressed us most about the press were the high-quality, state-of-the-art components, the high level of automation, and the improved process efficiency.”

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