Following the recent purchase of an X1 25Pro from The ExOne Company, North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, USA, Schunk Group, headquartered in Heuchelheim, Germany, has announced that it will integrate metal Binder Jetting (BJT) Additive Manufacturing into its existing series production technologies. Depending on the component, application and quantity, Schunk customers can now choose between metal BJT, Metal Injection Moulding and press & sinter Powder Metallurgy.
Prior to the integration of BJT, Schunk Sinter Metals production quantities started at 100,000 units from its location in Thale, Germany. With the increasing move away from the traditional Internal Combustion Engines (ICEs) and the shift to new types of drive, production quantities may vary. The company’s aim is to increase its flexibility in testing and production with both new and existing series equipment and facilities, and to be able to produce new geometries for any type of drive.
“If we still want to be an attractive development partner tomorrow, we have to use and further develop technologies that move our customers forward,” stated Tobias Heusel, Global Account Manager, Schunk Mobility. “We can no longer do this with our existing sintered metal components for combustion engines alone. That’s why we want to integrate innovative 3D printing technologies into our existing series production and open up new applications and markets with new products.”
Schunk reported that its selection of BJT is due to the relatively low-cost, high-volume production enabled by the technology alongside greater freedom of both design and material. The materials selection was especially noted, as it allows the company to use metals already in use in series production.
“The combination of our strength in Binder Jetting and Schunk’s extremely sound understanding of powder metallurgy and sintering experience creates exactly the intersection that is needed to be a sustainable partner and supplier to future customers together,” stated Eric Bader, Managing Director, ExOne GmbH. “It takes a fair amount of vision to enter 3D printing here and now. Schunk is clearly demonstrating its commitment to new developments.”
Daniel Alfonso, Global Business Development Manager Metal Additive Manufacturing at Schunk, added, “The cooperation with ExOne results from the increasing demand for the still-young metal 3D printing technology. By bringing together different players in the supply chain of this market, we will be able to accelerate developments and further refine this innovative technology. And what better way to do that than with two industry leaders like Schunk and ExOne joining forces to provide viable solutions to our customers’ needs?”
In principle, Schunk is not entering new territory when it comes to metal AM, both in cooperation with Volkswagen and the integration of Composite Extrusion Modelling (CEM) into MIM series production for prototypes and very small series. Here, the AM process replaces MIM with CEM shaping.
“We see ourselves as a development partner for our customers,” added Heusel. “Regardless of whether a 3D printing or one of the conventional shaping processes is most suitable for meeting their requirements, we accompany our customers from the first component inquiry to the finished product. In the process, they always benefit from high quality through lean and stable processes.”
In the future, Schunk intends to continue to focus on automotive and aerospace markets. In addition, it is expected that AM will bring increased flexibility, thus opening the possibility of producing complex components for a wide range of industries. There is already interest reported from a machine manufacturer, for example, but components for the consumer sector, for white goods or the medical industry are also conceivable.