Manufacturer of roller bearings for automotive, aerospace and industrial applications, Schaeffler Technologies, has entered into a cooperation project with global machine tool manufacturer DMG Mori. They are testing suitable metals to advance the development of additively manufactured roller bearing components with the aim of realising optimised products that offer greater added value for end customers.
Since May 2017, Schaeffler has been using a DMG Mori LASERTEC 65 3D hybrid machine to produce one-offs and small batches of bearing components as well as spare parts in metallic functionally graded materials (FGM) to finished part quality. The rapid, one-hit process combines the flexibility of additive manufacturing by laser deposition welding with 5-axis subtractive milling.
Schaeffler was not new to generative manufacturing, as it already used 3D powder bed printers for making plastic prototypes and fixtures and for small series production.
The LASERTEC 65 3D hybrid is equipped with a twin powder feed that allows changeover from deposition of one material to another. It results in a smooth transition between materials with different properties. The toughness and hardness of the material can be regulated during the build and optimally tailored to the specific requirements of each application.
Schaeffler has been active in Formula E for many years and is working on further improvements in electric drives. Material gradation offers opportunities for development. Magnetic and non-magnetic materials could, for example, be combined in a component using FGM and the properties adjusted as required.
Patrick Diederich, Managing Director of SAUER, who is also responsible for advanced technologies at DMG Mori, said: “We are very pleased that Schaeffler has decided on a LASERTEC 65 3D hybrid. Our strong partnership brings about a fascinating synergy in the production of additively manufactured components. Schaeffler was awarded the accolade of overall winner in DMG Mori’s Partner Award 2017.”