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Gigantic 3D Printer Produces 10-ton Gear Parts Made Of Steel

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Gigantic 3D Printer Produces 10-ton Gear Parts Made Of Steel
Gigantic 3D Printer Produces 10-ton Gear Parts Made Of Steel

Video: Gigantic 3D Printer Produces 10-ton Gear Parts Made Of Steel

Video: Gigantic 3D Printer Produces 10-ton Gear Parts Made Of Steel
Video: Machining HUGE 10 Ton Bevel Gear with CNC Milling Machine 2023, December

In the construction of large ships, the marine gear housings are cast as unique pieces made of steel. Casting therefore requires molds specially made for it. Now Lower Saxony research institutes and companies want to jointly develop a 3D printer that will manufacture these steel components with a weight of several tons in the future.

Three tons of steel saved

A major advantage of additive manufacturing is resource efficiency: if the components are printed instead of cast, the individual shapes are no longer required. The weight of the individual parts can also be reduced, since different designs are possible when printing than when casting. For example, cavities or honeycomb structures can be introduced. The steel gearbox from the 3D printer should therefore weigh a maximum of 10 tons - if cast, it will reach a weight of 13 tons.


When is it worth using 3D printing?

3D printers as big as freight containers

A huge pressure chamber is required to manufacture the heavy-weight gearbox housing parts. The interior of the 3D printer, which research institutes and companies from Lower Saxony want to develop together, is to be six meters long, three meters wide and one and a half meters high. This makes the printer almost as big as a freight container.

When printing the steel housing parts, the researchers at Laser Zentrum Hannover eV (LZH) rely on laser-assisted arc welding. In this additive manufacturing process, steel wire is melted and welded together layer by layer. The goal of the research is to apply up to five kilograms of steel per hour.

Pressure is monitored continuously

To ensure the quality of the components, the engineers at the Institute for Integrated Production Hanover (IPH) gGmbH develop an inline measuring technology. This enables errors to be recognized and corrected during printing. For this purpose, the printing process is permanently monitored and, if necessary, printing parameters are automatically adjusted in the process. For example, if too much material was applied in one step, less can be applied in the next step or vice versa.

Since part of the material is still hot while printing and part has already cooled, warping of the material can result in warpage as it cools down. "This is a hurdle that we want to overcome," says Ake Kriwall, who takes care of the development of measurement technology at the IPH together with project engineer Dominik Melcher.

Companies and research institutes involved in the XXL 3D printer:

  • Reintjes JES GmbH (head of the research project): marine gear manufacturer
  • Institute Integrated Production Hanover (IPH) gGmbH: Quality monitoring with inline measurement technology
  • Eilhauer Maschinenbau GmbH: Plant construction of the XXL 3D printer
  • Laser Zentrum Hannover eV (LZH): Laser-assisted arc welding
  • Tewiss - Technik und Wissen GmbH: Construction and control of the print head

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) is funding the project "Energy and resource-efficient manufacture of large-scale products through additive manufacturing using the example of marine gear housings (XXL 3D printing)". The project runs until the end of 2021.

Seminar tip

The 3D printing seminar in direct digital production conveys the technology, suitability and requirements of 3D printing and gives the participants an overview of the developments, possibilities and limits.

3D printing