Turning laser sintered parts into components

Posted on 10 Feb 2018 and read 455 times
Turning laser sintered parts into componentsGB Precision (www.gbprecision.co.uk), a specialist sub-contract engineering company, has been transforming additively manufactured laser-sintered parts into high-precision tooling components at its Birmingham factory.

This is a development of work already being undertaken for a customer in the high-volume and high-precision packaging sector, who has been investigating the potential benefits of laser sintering as a way of reducing the number of tool components.

The design improvement programme is being carried out in a multi-stage approach to ensure that each set of changes is completely tested before moving on to the next.

The first stage has been to amalgamate three conventionally machined components into a single sintered one; this has resulted in a 10% cost saving.

It is these items that GB Precision has been transforming into finished high-accuracy components using its advanced machining equipment and skills. When they arrive, the sintered parts are very rough and granular, so one of the very first challenges is to decide where the machining datum should be.

When the components were machined from solid bar, the work-holding would have been straightforward, but that is not the case with the sintered parts, so both the machining processes and the work-holding need to be changed.

In addition, the material itself poses significant challenges. GB Precision has had to experiment with speeds and feeds, depths of cut and various finishing tools and grinding wheels.

Company director Paul Turner said: “There is no doubt in my mind that a combination of laser sintering, conventional machining and surface treatments will provide significant cost, time and material savings and really is the future — and we are determined to be part of that future.”

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