Oct 17, 2016 | By Tess

Schuler, the German-based company specializing in hydraulic press technology, has announced it will be integrating 3D orienting and 3D printing into its hot stamping process. The new technologies are expected to improve the process and help to boost material properties through the creation of “conformal cooling channels in dies”, which will help to speed up the cooling process. According to a recent press release, Schuler will be showcasing its latest technological advancement at EuroBLECH 2016, an International Sheet Metal Working Technology Exhibition hosted in Hanover from October 25th to 29th.

Typically, channels used in hot stamping dies—a type of device used for molding metal parts—are made by drilling into the die, which often results in channels that are not close to the die’s surface, which in turn results in quite long cooling times. Having channels close to the stamping die’s surface is crucial for so that coolants can quickly bring annealing sheet metal to a temperature below 200 degrees celsius. By integrating 3D printing, Schuler has been able to create dies with coolant channels that follow the surface of the die, ultimately resulting in much quicker and more balanced cooling.

Udo Binder, the head of the intelligent tooling solutions division at Schuler, explains: “The optimised cooling channel geometry makes the cooling of the die more homogenous and efficient. 3D printing opens up new possibilities in the design of the cooling channels, so that they contribute to even cooling.”

In making the 3D printed dies, the German press manufacturer has been able to use the same steel material it has used in traditional hot stamping die production process. The main difference being that it has used a powder form of the metal material, which using a laser melting process, is built up layer by layer into the hot stamping die. According to Schuler, the 3D printed dies possess 95% of the mechanical-technical properties of a die machined from solid metal, making them a viable option.

The hot stamping dies have already gone through a number of rigorous testing processes to determine their optimal parameters and powder composition, and to test tensile strength and specific density. Currently, Schuler is putting its 3D printed hot stamping dies through various extensive tests, primarily to check their wear and series production.

Earlier this year, Schuler opened its new hot stamping research and demo center in Göppingen, Germany. The Hot Stamping TechCenter, which officially opened in January, will be used by the company primarily to demonstrate its new “lightweight vehicle construction applications” to clients.

Udo Binder added about the company’s recent expansion and technological advancement: “The construction of hot stamping dies is practically predestined to be a new area of application for 3D printing. We’re ready for it.”



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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