New hybrid production lowers the cost of special designs and reduces waiting times for attachment plates
Munich-based chain manufacturer iwis antriebssysteme has developed a manufacturing process that allows custom, application-oriented geometries to be applied to standard bent attachment plates. The hybrid process has allowed iwis to lower the high unit costs for short runs while at the same time dramatically reducing delivery times.
DHM combines the conventional process with additive manufacturing
Direct hybrid manufacturing (DHM) combines conventional manufacturing processes with laser melting to manufacture metal components. At iwis, DHM is used primarily for making attachment plates for conveyor chains, as customers in this field often need tailored plate geometries.
In the past, the manufacture of special designs like these was associated with high unit costs for short runs and with long delivery times as a result of the bending, punching or laser erosion operations involved.
The standard plate serves as the basis for the geometry of the customer product
Hybrid manufacturing tackles this problem by not manufacturing the entire attachment plate conventionally, as had been the case previously. Instead, the geometry required by the customer is built up on a standard link plate in a second step. Millions of these standard link plates are made by iwis every year, and in the context of direct hybrid manufacturing, they serve as the basis and carrier material for the specific geometry of the custom product.
Alongside lower prices and shorter waiting times for special designs, the new process offers a further benefit for customers of the world’s leading manufacturer of precision chains: DHM also allows them to boost the energy efficiency of their systems, because the geometry of the new attachment plates has been optimized, making them significantly lighter than comparable conventionally manufactured plates.
New technical possibilities for complex requirements
The use of direct hybrid manufacturing also allows iwis to open up new technical possibilities for even more complex customer requirements in respect of chain technology: For instance, link plates manufactured using DHM could also perform additional functions. iwis plans to leverage these possibilities to further increase the extent of the value added they offer in this product segment and to transition from being a component supplier to a system supplier.