Cutting tool manufacturer Guhring UK saw significant weight, cost and time savings after additive manufacturing of an H13 tool steel milling cutter.
The Birmingham-based company, a subsidiary of the Guhring Group, has invested in Markforged continuous 3D printing technology in carbon fiber and metal, the first to try to make prototyping more efficient and the second to optimize tool production as well.
Guhring has been manufacturing Carbide and Polycrystalline Diamond (PCD) cutting tools for nearly 50 years, providing bespoke components for BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and Airbus. Typically, its PCD tools are made by brazing ultra-high hardness diamond cutting tips to custom hardened tool steel bodies, but with each component needing to be designed and approved by the customer, lead times may reach two months.
While it is advantageous to deal with manufacturing giants like the aforementioned trio, many small businesses that require lower volumes cannot justify the costs of special tooling and, therefore, Guhring did not not been able to serve them. The company turned to additive manufacturing in hopes of “reducing the cost of the prototype and the iterative cycle time,” according to Alan Pearce, PCD production supervisor at Guhring UK. Through Markforged’s UK partner, Mark3D UK, Guhring installed a carbon fiber platform to quickly produce low volume special tool prototypes and a Metal X to move into functional tool production.
â€œWithin a day, we had designed and printed an Onyx tool and we could immediately see if we were going to run into any manufacturing issues. Within five days we had printed and sintered a fully functional metal cutting body, â€commented Pearce. â€œWith Markforged additive manufacturing, we like to think that we are on the right track to become a factory of the future. Using Markforged 3D printers speeds everything up.
With this 3D printing capability in place, the company’s H13 tool steel milling cutter saw a 66% reduction in time, 75% reduction in costs, and 60% reduction in weight thanks in part to uniquely designed infill. Guhring engineers successfully used the tool as a reamer to cut aluminum and also succeeded in changing the geometry configuration of the tool tip to use the tool as a milling cutter with a eccentric load. The company also sent 3D printed metal cutting tools to its customers so that they could experiment with new concepts.