Seco Tools, a leading provider of metal cutting solutions for indexable milling, solid milling, turning, holemaking, threading and tooling systems, headquartered in Fagersta, Sweden, reports that it is increasingly adopting Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-LB) Additive Manufacturing as a fundamental part of its operations.
One main strengths of this manufacturing method, noted by the company, is the possibility of making specialised customer-specific tools and solutions that would be difficult to achieve through conventional manufacturing. Above all, however, Seco anticipates that the technology will come into its own when producing tools that must be designed in a special way. This may involve complex geometries or other customisations to customer-specific needs.
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Examples of such customisations include making the tools lighter, which improves the vibration-dampening properties, or provide them with better cooling possibilities.
“By directing the coolant to hit the cutting edge at just the right place, we can significantly extend the tool’s useful life. With AM technology, coolant can be guided to locations that would otherwise have been impossible,” stated Ingemar Bite, R&D Specialist at Seco Tools, who also believes that AM technology is helping to shorten lead times. “AM allows for us to produce geometries that require less manufacturing steps, which often results in shorter lead times and thereby, faster deliveries.”
Additive Manufacturing is also expected to open up the possibility of repairing broken tools in the future, by removing dysfunctional components and manufacturing them anew. This could, for example, involve tool components or the reuse of different types of machine-side connections. This is particularly a good idea in terms of the environment and sustainability. Another advantage with AM technology Seco noted is that, overall, not as much material is used for AM manufacturing and any leftover powder can be reused.
This makes Additive Manufacturing a time- and cost-efficient method for unique production whilst still being suitable for large-scale production. Seco Tools is already additively manufacturing cooling clamps for its Jetstream tools.
“The cooling clamps have a complex form with curved cooling channels and are thus well-suited to this type of manufacture,” explained Bite.
The R&D department at Seco Tools works continuously to improve the use of AM technology for the development and manufacture of new and existing products. The company is constantly looking into ways to improve its products and how to best utilise AM .
“We like to collaborate with our customers on these efforts and to conduct tests together with them,” added Bite. “The materials that are currently used in AM are no different in nature than those being used in conventional manufacturing, and the technology works well with many different metals. In the future, we will add even more and superior materials, while regularly adapting our equipment and upgrading hardware and software as needed.”