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Mönchengladbach, July 25, 2017

Breakthrough in die maintenance

3D spray heads by additive manufacturing at SMS group

The tool cavities of drop forging presses are in part geometrically so complex that conventional manufacturing methods of spray heads reach their limits. This is exactly where additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, reveals its strengths.

Proven technology as the foundation

Drop forging presses are used, for example, in the automotive industry. The spray head removes scale from the dies, cools the die surface, applies lubricants and dries the dies. But let’s start from the top.

The new additive-manufactured 3D spray heads are based on the same principle as the plate spray heads, which were also developed by SMS group, and incorporate all the advantages of this proven technology: The external-mix two-fluid nozzles produce an extremely fine aerosol. Of course, unmixing, unlike in internal-mix systems, cannot occur with this technology. The homogeneous, constant-over-time spray pattern provides for a long tool service life and optimal spraying results. The nozzles can also be divided into spray zones that can be turned on and off at will over time. To switch the nozzles, SMS group continues to use the tried and proven membrane material of the plate spray heads for the 3D spray heads. The membrane platelets are located directly at the nozzle. The short switching periods allow for high dynamics, but dripping is precluded. Furthermore, zones with different spray times permit optimizing spray medium consumption.

New options bring an innovation push

The new 3D spray heads even go a step further: The spray medium can - like the atomizing air - be switched individually and with time offsets at will for each nozzle. The adapted control opens entirely new options in this context. However, the outstanding difference to conventional spray heads is the low material weight and the weight-optimized construction. The 3D spray heads are extremely light-weight. This results in several advantages:

  • The low weight of the automation reduces wear
  • An improved range of choices results from acquiring a new automation
  • The cycle times can be positively affected

The additive manufacture enables different nozzle shapes and orientations. SMS group has developed expertise in producing 3D spray heads, thereby reducing the production time to a minimum. Positioning of the nozzles is highly flexible and determined by the client. The interrupted structure prevents collection of the spray medium on the spray head. At the same time, the 3D spray heads have a low structure height, so the tool cavity can be used in other ways. Heat resistance has been demonstrated during testing. In addition, SMS group is always researching materials for these applications.

Optimal deployment in forging operations

The low weight burden during re-fitting ensures fast acceptance of the light 3D spray heads among users. Even a crash will only cause minimal damage. Fast reacquisition minimizes idle periods during production. Spots in which deposits collect do not form due to the flow-optimized canals. Cleaning is in any case a thing of the past because the one part construction of the 3D spray heads does not have joints and, therefore, does not dry out. Due to the one-part construction, the 3D spray heads can also be operated at low pressures of 3 bar and high pressures of 10 bar or higher.

Just like plate spray heads, the 3D spray heads require three medium feeds:

  1. Atomizing air (about 6 bar)
  2. Spray medium (about 5 bar, there is the option to switch between cooling water and lubricant mixture)
  3. Instrument air (about 6 bar)
Optimal symbiosis for new systems and retooling

SMS group offers you an optimal, perfectly attuned 3D spray system consisting of spray technology, 3D spray head and spray automation. The client can select different automation solutions, such as linear spray automation or an industrial robot.

New 3D spray systems can be delivered or legacy spray systems can be retooled for 3D spray heads, even if the existing system doesn’t have instrument air. Regardless of whether it’s a new installation or retooling, SMS group initially surveys the actual situation on site. Based on this survey, an offer is produced that includes the 3D spray head and a standardized connection plate. The standardized connection plate only needs to be installed once and holds the 3D spray heads in different nozzle positions. The client determines the position and properties of the nozzles. With this product, SMS offers its clients another option for increasing productivity without stressing people, material or the environment.