Smart Factory Bionic Design and Additive Manufacturing
The smart factory combines networked and "intelligent" systems as well as future-oriented manufacturing processes. At the Smart Factory Day, Klaus Müller of Bionic Production explained how additive manufacturing and bionic designs are changing the industry.
Additive manufacturing is well established in the development phase, however, in the industrial environment, i. e. in serial production, the process is not yet able to compete. Bionic Production, a spin-off of Laser Centre Nord, wants to change that. To this end, Bionic Production helps companies to use additive manufacturing, for example by training design engineers or optimizing components to produce them in a useful manner.
At the Smart Factory Day that took place in Munich at the end of November, Klaus Müller, responsible for marketing & sales, cooperation and organization of the company, spoke about how bionic design and additive manufacturing complement each other. Additive manufacturing is especially useful when different functions can be integrated into components — for example, the cooling of components. Müller sees the primary drivers of the processes primarily in the reduction of production steps and the resulting decrease in material and energy consumption. “Design and production will be very closely connected," said Müller. In future, design changes will be directly implemented in the production process — without any intermediate steps.
Additive Manufacture of Engine Components
A four-cylinder engine with printed components, presented by Renault Trucks at the beginning of 2017, demonstrated the advantages of functional integration. Bionic Production was involved in the development of this engine: The developers integrated around 80 parts into the cylinder block and 45 into the cylinder head; among other things, they produced the rocker arms and the camshaft bearing covers using the 3D printing process. In addition, they optimized the mounting of the alternator and the engine wiring harness, thus saving a total of around 200 components. In this way, the engine weighs 120 kilograms, which is 25 % less than its predecessor. The first tests have been very promising.
Müller used a new turboprop engine to show to what extend this development can be utilized. The model is five percent lighter than its predecessor, but the most obvious advantage of integrating functions is its reduced complexity: it consists of twelve parts — instead of the previous 855 parts. The engine underwent its first test run in January 2018.
For the coming decade, Müller expects additive production to be further automated. His company took a first step in November 2017: with the purchase of the "Bionic Smart Factory" — a factory concept for complex 3D printing production. The focus is on the bionic product design of components and an economical production. The factory also serves as a base for cooperative research and development projects in cooperation with Laser Centre Nord.
The Bionic Production AG
Bionic Production is a spin-off of Laser Centre Nord located in Hamburg. The business model is based on many years of scientific research and extensive cooperation with industrial partners. The company states that itis bringing making 3D printing processes for series production in order to exploit the advantages of this technology for industrial applications. The portfolio includes strategic consulting, training and part optimization, the qualified production of (bionic) 3D printing components and the complete factory planning. The company also conducts research into systems and provides solutions that improve the efficiency of this technology.
This article was first published by Automobil Industrie.