Schaeffler to investigate additive manufacturing material gradation using DMG Mori technology

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German bearing specialist Schaeffler Technologies has entered into a cooperation project with global machine tool manufacturer DMG Mori, with the pair testing suitable metals to advance the development of additively manufactured roller bearing components. The aim of the project is to realise optimised products that offer greater added value for end users, particularly in the area of material gradation.

Schaeffler has been using a DMG Mori Lasertec 65 3D hybrid machine since May 2017 to produce one-offs and small batches of bearing components, as well as spare parts in metallic, functionally graded materials (FGM) to finished part quality. The rapid, one-hit process combines the flexibility of additive manufacturing (AM) by laser deposition welding and 5-axis subtractive milling.

DMG Mori’s Lasertec 65 3D hybrid is equipped with a twin powder feed that allows changeover from deposition of one material to another. It results in a smooth transition between materials with different properties. The toughness and hardness of the material can be regulated during the build and optimally tailored to the specific requirements of each application.

Material gradation offers exciting opportunities for development in that magnetic and non-magnetic materials could, for example, be combined in a component using FGM and the properties adjusted as required. Schaeffler has been active in Formula E for many years and is working on further improvements in electric drives.

Schaeffler’s AM activities predate the arrival of the DMG Mori machine, incidentally. It had already used 3D powder-bed printers for making plastic prototypes and fixtures, as well as for small series production.