Freshly printed tools

to HFU News

A new process for the manufacture of grinding tools is being researched at the Institute of Materials Science and Engineering

Take two different types of powder, a 3-printer and instructions for using the equipment - and you have the recipe for success for the grinding tool of tomorrow? If only it were that simple. Instead, Achim Conzelmann, a doctoral student at the Furtwangen University campus in Tuttlingen, has been tinkering with a promising new process for a year and a half already. "Components, for example in the automotive industry, are becoming increasingly individualised," Conzelmann reports. "That's why more and more individual tools are also needed."  Supervised by Professor Dr Hadi Mozaffari-Jovein, Head of the Institute of Materials Science and Engineering, Conzelmann is investigating a new process that can be used to print a mixture of metal and ceramic into tools.

"Initially, it was a matter of mixing the components correctly," explains Conzelmann, who earned both his bachelor's degree in "Industrial materials engineering" and his master's degree in Applied Materials Science at Furtwangen University, and then went into research. For his doctoral thesis, he is working closely with an industrial partner and with Professor Dr Helmut Seifert at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. "Printing composite materials already exists," reports Professor Dr Mozaffari-Jovein, "but this application and process is something spectacularly new!"  Mozaffari-Jovein sees huge future potential in additive manufacturing. Unlike conventional manufacturing methods, in which a block of material is shaped into a product by removing material, 3D printing works the other way around. Material is applied layer by layer, making it possible for even filigree structures to be built from scratch.

Additive manufacturing of grinding tools

Conzelmann's tools consist of thousands of layers, each only a few micrometers thick. In elaborate test procedures, the doctoral student has investigated how the materials used, behave when they are heated and fused by laser, then cooled down again within fractions of a second. Which substances interact with each other and how? "You have to find the right balance there." Conzelmann reports, "If there is too little interaction, cracks can form, for example. If the components react too much with each other, then the abrasive property of the ceramic may be lost." In the meantime, he has found the right mixture of an aluminum alloy and abrasive powder particles, the next step being to test the freshly printed grinding tools for load-bearing capacity, pliability and abrasion during the grinding process. Conzelmann expects to complete the project by the end of 2022.

"Additive manufacturing is such a future-oriented topic because it offers enormous opportunities to minimise the amount of material required in production and to significantly shorten finishing operations," explains Prof. Mozaffari-Jovein. To stimulate knowledge and technology transfer in this field, Mozaffari-Jovein is currently organising the Tuttlingen Technology Day in conjunction with Furtwangen University. The event will take place on 4 May, 2022, in the Tuttlingen town hall and will be dedicated this year to additive manufacturing, specifically in the areas of medical technology, mechanical and plant engineering, automation, digitisation and quality assurance, and finishing. During presentations by specialists and a roundtable discussion on the topic of "Does additive manufacturing have a future?", experts will be able exchange knowledge and ideas - and perhaps even a recipe or two for success.
More information on the Technology Day is available at https://technologietag-tuttlingen.de.