Swiss machine tool giant GF Machining Solutions signed a strategic deal to collaborate with laser additive manufacturing equipment pioneer EOS. GF Machining Solutions (GF is short for Georg Fischer), part of a company that posted sales of CHF 3.8 billion last year, is set to use the high-end 3D printing process to develop tools for mold makers – a market sector in which GF claims to hold a leading position.
EOS founder and CEO Hans J. Langer said: “The co-operation allows us to increase the value for customers by integrating conventional and additive technologies. This is a large step towards seamless production and we join forces with a strong and experienced partner.” Adopting additive manufacturing technology should enable GF customers to generate metal inserts featuring cooling close to the surface, thus allowing for a shorter mold cooling sequence and a much faster plastic injection cycle time.
GF and EOS will look to integrate additive manufacturing machines into the production of mold inserts, including the required software and an automated link with machine tools and metrology equipment.
Founded more than two centuries ago, Schaffhausen-headquartered GF has long-standing experience in the machine tool sector – along with more than 14,000 employees, 47 production facilities and a presence in no fewer than 31 countries. The deal with EOS represents its first foray into the emerging world of additive manufacturing, and is a further sign that the technology is now being taken seriously by the traditional metalworking sector.
The first results of the collaboration are expected to appear at the “EMO” trade show taking place in Milan in October this year. The show is organized by CECIMO, the European Association of the Machine Tool Industries. This year, the event will for the first time feature an area devoted exclusively to additive manufacturing technologies.
Additive manufacturing also featured prominently at last month’s Laser World of Photonics event in Munich, with dedicated show floor space and an application panel session discussing the merits of the technology for making critical parts like turbine blades for jet engines.