Festo’s Automation Tool Revs up DMG Mori’s 3D Printing

DMG MORI AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT has brought on board Festo as a development partner. Particularly, DMG MORI is utilizing the automation company’s ready-to-install solution to its selective laser melting (SLM) process.

“Our aim is to achieve a high level of maturity of CNC machines with our additive manufacturing machines,” explains Dr. Vino Suntharakumaran, Managing Director at DMG MORI Additive GmbH. The company is not far off reaching this aim with the LASERTEC 30 DUAL SLM, which increases productivity by 80%.”

Flagship for additive manufacturing by selective laser melting (SLM) in a powder bed: the LASERTEC 30 DUAL SLM from DMG MORI Additive. In the foreground, Dr Vino Suntharakumaran, Managing Director at DMG MORI Additive (on the right side), talking to Marco Schilling, Key Account Manager Machine Tools at Festo. (© Festo SE & Co. KG)

The LASERTEC 30 DUAL SLM from DMG MORI Additive is the flagship for additive manufacturing by SLM in a powder bed. Moreover, it produces highly complex components with function integration and internal close-contoured cooling channels. Furthermore, it reduces product development times thanks to prototypes made of series materials that are available straight away. Two powerful 600W lasers, each with scan fields covering the entire installation space. Thus, enabling build rates of up to 90 cm³/h. 

Faster and safer powder module change

The dual-laser system improves productivity by 80 percent compared to a single-laser system. The powder module for quick material change, called rePLUG, automates powder handling. Reprocessing the powder in an inert gas atmosphere ensures greater efficiency and occupational safety thanks to the closed material circuit. With the powder module, it is possible to switch between different materials in less than two hours and without any contamination.

Another innovation is the permanent filter system, which works independently of the material and offers a new level of durability and occupational safety. Thanks to the automatic passivation of metal dusts. The actively cooled installation space allows users to remove finished components earlier. Thus, prepare new jobs more quickly. The result is a further increase in productivity.

Safe inert gas atmosphere for stable processes in additive manufacturing thanks to a ready-to-install complete solution from Festo. (© Festo SE & Co. KG)

Process gas fully under control

The process gas atmosphere plays a decisive role. The pressure and oxygen content must remain within narrow limits to ensure high component quality. “A Festo automation solution helped us achieve a breakthrough here,” says Suntharakumaran. Moreover, the solution consists of a unit for filling the working chamber with inert gas. Only a safe inert gas atmosphere ensures stable processes in additive manufacturing. “The prerequisite for this is innovative products for flow and pressure control, which we get from Festo,” adds 3D expert Suntharakumaran.

The ready-to-install complete solution from Festo consists of a mounting plate equipped with the valve terminal VTUG including EtherCAT bus connection, the pinch valve VZQA, the MS4 service unit and the proportional-pressure regulator VEAB. The valve terminal VTUG is suitable both in terms of pneumatics and control technology. The pinch valve VZQA precisely controls the inert gas argon and the evacuation of the gas mixture during the purging process.

Innovative automation solution

The proportional-pressure regulator VEAB is compact yet has precise and dynamic control characteristics. These valves offer high-precision flow control at up to 20 l/min. with low hysteresis, high repeat accuracy, and low energy consumption. The proportional characteristics of a piezo bender with direct actuation ensure stable and reliable regulation and a stepless pressure rise. Moreover, the MS4 service unit has a modular design for compressed air supply and its components can combine freely. These include pressure regulators, on/off and soft-start valves with safety function, filters, pressure and flow sensors, dryers, sensors and lubricators. This means there is a solution for every task.

All automation products are suitable for inert gases. “This solution keeps the pressure and oxygen content within narrow limits,” adds the 3D printing expert. Moreover, it also halves the cycle time by shortening the time needed to fill the workspace.

Simulation software also in demand

The services of Festo extend beyond supplying the automation solution. Thus, the automation manufacturer’s experts were also involved in developing the machine. With appropriate software and engineering tools from Festo for simulation, it was possible to embed the automation components in the machine. Thus, the development processes at an early stage and thus become part of the solution early on.

DMG MORI, as one of the world’s leading companies in machine tool manufacturing, is further expanding its technological leadership. “That is why it is important for us to join forces with innovative partners. Festo is such a partner for us, because as a manufacturer of pneumatic and electric automation technology, it focuses and works on future topics, as can be seen in bionic grippers or the Festo AX digitalization solution,” explains Suntharakumaran. They are thus both looking for further solutions to automate labor-intensive activities, for example when loading and unloading the construction cylinder.