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Precision manufacturing

Precision based on cutting-edge technology

New machining tools, strategies and processing centres are no longer sources of disruptive change but are instead leading to incremental improvements. By following the developments in R&D, Sirris has been able to identify possible ground-breaking innovations in ‘integrated’ or ‘assisted' manufacturing technology.

Additive manufacturing of metal components has long been possible but is seldom used in industry. A lack of integration with classic manufacturing technology has been identified as the main obstacle. Sirris has developed its AM Integrated Factory as a demonstrator platform, in combination with additive and subtractive manufacturing technology.

Cryogenic treatment of difficult-to-process materials

In assisted manufacturing technology there is significant potential for the application of cryogenic treatment (cooling) using CO2 or N2. The advantages lie in the greater cooling capacity and total cleanliness; the disadvantage that the cooling becomes a consumable. For difficult-to-process materials where the heat generated during manufacture impairs the service life of the tools, cryogenic assisted technology has a ground-breaking effect: doubling or tripling the service life and productivity of these tools.

Helvoet processes frozen rubber parts applying cryogenic treatment

Cryogenic treatment is an innovative cooling process. Gas such as carbon dioxide or nitrogen under high pressure have a superior cooling capacity compared to standard cooling methods using emulsions or oil. Cryogenic treatment is not only applicable to heat-intensive materials such as titanium and hardened steels, but can also be a useful technique for soft materials.

Sirris carried out a feasibility study at Helvoet Pharma in Limburg, a leading producer of pharmaceutical sealings. In order to test the use of liquid carbon dioxide to machine rubber rings instead of casting the parts. Freezing the material makes it more brittle, rendering it machinable. This process eliminates the need to produce special moulds which would otherwise be required to form this material.

Integrated machining reduces lead time

‘Integrated’ machining technologies is both the seamless connection of machining technologies and the application of a second machining technology on the same platform. In both cases, the objective is creating a significant competitive advantage. For the latter, Sirris has pinpointed integrated laser curing because this ground-breaking integrated technology reduces the lead time by up to 90 percent. The buffer stock level requirements are, therefore, significantly lower.

Vandewiele investigates options to implement laser curing

Vandewiele NV, a well-known weaving machine and textile system manufacturer, studied options to implement laser curing in order to increase the quality of the machines and, at the same time, to shorten the lead time.

AM Integrated Factory

Additive manufacturing technology (AM), or 3D printing, is already sufficiently developed to be integrated into a production line. However, there are still many practical problems to be solved. Sirris has, therefore, established the “AM Integrated Factory“, a pilot plant for demonstrations and research into the development and scaling of AM technology, in line with other pioneering manufacturing technologies. The objective is to help companies integrate additive manufacturing processes, with a view to manufacture components on industrial production lines.

Injection mould machines manufactured at AM Integrated Factory demonstrate 15% higher performance

During a European research project, a study was conducted into the feasibility of applying 3D printing as a basic technology for injection moulds used to produce optical plastic components. The Austrian research partners printed a large mould cavity with cooling channels made of stainless steel. On Sirris’s AM Integrated Factory demonstration platform, the mould cavity was machined into a mirror-quality surface using the five-axis precision milling machine. The injection mould was validated in production and the results were very positive: an increase of up to 15% in productivity compared to existing mould technology.