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Beyond Surfaces #6 - Manufacturing

3D printing the world: Industry is embracing additive manufacturing. Surfaces in depth: The future of coating technology. Team up to step up: MTC2 partners share their 3D printing visions.

Beyond Surfaces #6 - Manufacturing

The history of manufacturing technology is almost as old as that of mankind. And it is constantly changing. Manufacturers are currently working on networking and digitizing their factories - under the buzzwords Industry 4.0 and Smart Factory. Additive manufacturing is seen as the next revolution in manufacturing technology.

In our new issue of BEYOND SURFACES, we therefore talk to Prof. Thomas Lampke from Chemnitz University of Technology, among others, about the influence of these changes on coating technologies. Our expert Dr. Blanka Szost describes where the use of additive manufacturing makes sense. And our customer LENA Space explains why the combination of additive manufacturing, PVD coatings and thermal barrier coatings is the optimal solution for them.

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Why the Starrag Group relies on Oerlikon Balzers to recondition tools

The Starrag Group, with headquarters in Rorschacherberg (Switzerland), is a global leader in the manufacture of precision tools for metal, composite materials and ceramics machining. The special tools employed are a decisive quality factor in the manufacturing process. With Oerlikon Balzers as a partner, Starrag is able to offer a global regrinding service for these tools.

Machine tools from Starrag are always part of an overall solution: When combined with wide-ranging technological and other services, the company can guarantee a high level of process quality as well as productivity over the entire life cycle.

Challenging flow components

Starrag has made a name for itself especially in the machining of flow components – blades, rotors and impellers for the aerospace industry. The manufacturing technology for this must meet exacting standards: “Not only do the parts have increasingly complex geometries and demand ever closer tolerances, the materials are also becoming increasingly difficult to machine: Titanium, Inconel and other nickel alloys – i. e. everything that is difficult to machine,” relates Michael Straub, Head of Tool Engineering at Starrag.

The special geometries of the parts are one thing. What is especially difficult is obtaining a finish with micronrange accuracy on the frequently razor-thin blades. This involves special requirements for cooling and workpiece clamping in the 5-axis machining center of the machine tool. Any component instability can easily lead to vibration during processing, and this must be brought under control by the machine and tool.

Tooling specialist

It comes as no surprise, then, that the Swiss firm has also developed into a specialist for the necessary milling cutters. Once again, the complex geometries and the materials that are exceptionally difficult to machine pose the greatest challenge: “Every tool is developed for the concrete use case with specific contours, angles and radiuses,” explains Michael Straub.

The solid metal tools, which are developed and produced in Rorschacherberg, require not only good concentricity properties, but also very high surface finish quality. This is only one reason why Starrag has relied on the coating competence of Oerlikon Balzers for many years: “Oerlikon Balzers is often already involved in the development process when we match tools and coatings to one another.”

Complex geometries:
Manufacturing flow components places high demands on the machine and the tool.

Safeguarding process quality

The tools determine the process quality to a great extent. However, tools have only a limited service life, after which they become dull and lose their cutting performance and quality. Regrinding serves a clear objective: “Our premise is that the customer can depend on obtaining the same quality with a reconditioned tool as with a new tool. This is the only way to safeguard for the long term the process which we were once able to sell him,” says Michael Straub.

Tools from Starrag are employed throughout the world. “With Oerlikon Balzers as a partner and with their competence and far-reaching network of customer centers, we can deliver original quality to our customers even in remote countries.”

This is a convincing advantage because tools are the cost driver in the industrial manufacturing sector. Oerlikon Balzers maintains reconditioning services in locations proximate to important industrial centers in America and Asia. This ensures short pass-through times and eliminates high transportation costs.

Regrinding AND edge preparation AND coating

For Straub, Oerlikon Balzers’ overall package is decisive: Sharpening, edge preparation and coating come from a single source. “That is exceptional and ensures quality and cost effectiveness,” he affirms. Typically, with other providers, tools pass through the hands of several providers during reconditioning.

One standard worldwide

To ensure a seamless transition, Starrag delivers the geometry data for the tools to the Oerlikon Balzers competence center for grinding in Stainz, Austria, directly after their customers accept the manufacturing process. The Stainz team prepares data that are then made available for the respective machines in the various reconditioning centers around the world. This takes place after the regrinding result has been tested together with Starrag. The result is a uniform standard ensured worldwide.

Consequently, the two partners share their know-how very early on: “For us, it is important to be able to offer our customers good after-sales service. This includes regrinding their tools,” says Michael Straub. “With Oerlikon Balzers, we have a unique advantage: Reconditioned tools are just as good as new tools – and it’s worldwide, fast and cost effective.”

With Oerlikon Balzers, we have a unique advantage: Reconditioned tools are just as good as new tools – and it’s worldwide, fast and cost effective.

Michael Straub,
Head Tool Engineering, Starrag Group

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