Collaboration for additive manufacture of rolling bearings

DMG MORI, manufacturer of machine tools, and Schaeffler Technologies AG, system supplier of rolling bearings, linear guides and drives technology, have signed a cooperation agreement that will see the companies jointly pursuing development work in the field of additive manufacturing of rolling bearings.

“Both partners complement each other perfectly to drive the future of machine tools, as well as the continuing development of rolling bearing technology,” said Dr Stefan Spindler, CEO industrial of Schaeffler AG. “Our joint ‘Machine Tool 4.0’ development project has already demonstrated this with great success. Our cooperation in additive manufacturing means another very important strategic area for the future.”

The goal is to develop the additive manufacturing technology of what is called laser metal deposition welding so that it can be used for the flexible manufacture of rolling bearing components for prototypes and small batch sizes. The focus is on process issues as well as on the materials used and their suitability for the process.

In laser metal deposition welding, a material is simultaneously melted and applied to a surface. In this case, the material is metal powder. The heat source is a high-performance laser. This additive manufacturing process is combined with conventional five-axis machining in hybrid facilities developed by DMG MORI so that the resulting components can be finished immediately afterwards.

Schaeffler and DMG MORI presented the Machine Tool 4.0 innovation project jointly with other partners at the Japan International Machine Tool Fair. The project links existing technology with new digitalised components from sensors to the Cloud. Two prototypes were set up based on the fourth-generation DMC 80 FD duoBLOCK universal milling and turning machining centre. Additional sensors for measuring vibrations, forces, temperatures and pressures have been integrated in almost all bearing positions relevant for the machining process in the prototypes of the innovation project in order to obtain optimum information about the machine’s condition.