The automotive industry consists of a vast network of suppliers and suppliers that produce millions of parts for thousands of components and subassemblies installed on each car on the road. Although some of these components are cast, forged or machined, a large number of them are stamped or formed from various types of metal plates using large presses, capable of bending, cutting, forming, imprinting and piercing raw materials. In order to cope with the continuous iterations in automobile design and the demand for a large number of parts, suppliers must be able to quickly reequip and modify the production line to minimize downtime.
For many companies, this is the opportunity for Egar Mould Company to display its talents. At Egar Tool and Die, the challenge is twofold. First of all, the company must be able to quickly produce moulds that meet customer requirements. But as a manufacturer of more than 15 million stamping and welding components a year, Egar, like many of its customers, must be able to quickly reequip itself for different jobs. To that end, the company is investing in state-of-the-art manufacturing technology, including metal 3D printing.
For Egar engineers, 3D printing has proved to be a powerful tool for overcoming these challenges-enabling them to quickly produce arm-end tools for presses and custom mold prototypes for internal and customer use.
Today, the vast majority of Egar's 3D printing capacity, up to 80 per cent, is devoted to the production of arm-end tools for its mass production of stamping machines. With just one Studio system, employees can design, iterate, and integrate components into their production lines in less than a week-minimizing manufacturing downtime. The other 20 per cent of Egar's additions focus on prototyping and the development of mold components, particularly using materials such as H13 tool steel and 4140 chromium steel, which are commonly used in stamping dies.
Like arm-end tools, 3D printing allows engineers to print and test multiple prototype arm-end tool molds with slightly different geometry and quickly improve the design to achieve the final part. In addition to faster production, 3D printing allows engineers to create more complex parts-such as optimized robotic arm end tools that traditional manufacturing cannot prove to have high performance-while avoiding the increased costs that usually accompany highly complex designs. Using Studio systems, Egar engineers are able to produce arm-end tools and prototype moulds with complex geometric shapes, such as internal cooling channels, that cannot be manufactured by casting, machining, milling or other traditional methods.
The addition technology also opens the door for lightweight components, such as the transmission arm of a press, to optimize performance and reduce machine pressure, as well as to combine multiple parts into one (assembly integration). Incremental manufacturing also allows the use of derivative design tools that allow engineers to access new design spaces and create parts with organically inspired geometry to create parts optimized for their applications, but at a lighter and lower cost. In addition to the Desktop Metal materials already in use, Egar engineers are eager to explore possible uses of upcoming materials, especially copper, for resistance welding applications. Egar has also invested in Desktop Metal "Fiber" printers and is expected to start printing sensor brackets and other parts for gas shielded metal arc welding systems by the end of 2020.