Tools ready for the future. Precision tool manufacturers to show new solutions for new materials and make their contribution to digitalization
AMB starts with new records. 15,000 square metres more surface area with the new Paul-Horn-Halle (Hall 10) makes a total of 120,000 square metres and now space for over 1500 exhibitors. They are expecting around 90,000 international visitors from the areas of metal-cutting and metal-removing process machine tools, precision tools, measuring systems and quality assurance, robots, workpiece and tool handling, industrial software & engineering, components, assemblies and accessories. With the trade fair extension, the manufacturers of machining tools and chucking tools will now occupy the neighboring Halls 1 and 3 , and will no longer be separated by the Entrance East and the atrium.
Sandvik Coromant promises more productivity through its technologies, processes and know-how, which will be presented at AMB
The general trend is towards digitalization. This is also reflected in the trade fair programme. For the first time, beside the already established framework events, the special show "Digital Way" will take place with the connected two-day congress on 18 and 19 September. It will provide information, also using the showcases – Elabo Smart Factory and the Gewatec Learning Factory – on how industrial companies, assisted by modern information technology, can benefit from the potential of digitalisation.
Coming to Stuttgart full of optimism
Precision tools from Germany are in demand around the world. It is often family-run, small- and medium-sized companies that drive the sector forward with their innovative products. In 2017, turnover exceeded the ten billion Euro mark for the first time. Markus Heseding, Director of the Precision Tools Association in the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), explains: "In 2017, all important figures for precision tools, from incoming orders to production and export, significantly exceeded the corresponding figures for the previous year." Turnover for metal-cutting tools grew by seven per cent, and clamping devices even achieved an increase of nine per cent.
At the same time, this export-oriented sector was again able to rely on its foreign sales, which increased by twelve per cent – above all thanks to the two large customer industries mechanical engineering and automotive. The main driver was China, but also the USA made a huge contribution to the export of precision tools, despite protectionist impulses. Exports were also the driver of growth for chucking tools, in particular deliveries to China, which increased by over a third.
In an accordingly positive mood, despite all the risks and uncertainties, the sector is now looking to Stuttgart. Heseding: "In the first few months of 2018, the German tool industry is still at a record level." For the current year, the association expects another increase of seven per cent for metal-cutting tools and eight per cent for chucking tools. Reason: "A large number of customers are working at their maximum capacity and are looking for tool concepts which enable them to increase productivity. As the showcase for these concepts, AMB will therefore be held at the right time."
New challenges from electromobility and lightweight construction
The demand for new tool concepts has grown not in spite of but precisely because of increasing electromobility, as the head of the association explains: "In the automotive industry, in addition to the unit number development also the changeover to highly efficient engines and hybrid concepts has become a significant driver of growth." This is confirmed by Reiner Wendt, Sales Manager for South Germany at the machining specialist Paul Horn: "Pure electromobility does reduce the number of components to be machined, but hybrid drives increase the proportion of components to be machined."
Innovative slot miller from Paul Horn: It offers stepless and user-friendly adjustment of the slot width.
Andreas Enzenbach, Vice President Marketing and Product Management at Mapal Dr. Kress, sees in new components in fully electrified cars or cars with hybrid drives "new challenges for the metal-cutting industry; for machining the housings for electric motors, maximum precision is required on account of the high speeds."
Designed for maximum economy in use in small series: the Tritan-Drill-HSS from Mapal.
Electric cars need at least in part also other components than cars with combustion engines. Thus, according to Markus Kannwischer, Head of Technology and Member of the Board of Management at Paul Horn, high-precision plug connections, new gearbox components, electric motors and elements in the area of cooling, for example, are required. Although electromobility almost inevitably requires lightweight construction, Kannwischer does not believe in a further increase in the use of CFRP and GFRP. For this purpose, thermoformed steels have caught up considerably, he says.
In general, lightweight construction leads to a large number of new materials that can only be machined economically with adapted tools. Kannwischer gives examples: "The use of nano-carbides for machining high-temperature alloys or new developments in the fields of coatings and machining processes."
Machine tools and tools themselves benefit from such lightweight concepts. For example, reaming tools with long cantilevers are sometimes already designed with CFRP shafts.
Other methods for reducing the weight of tools include the use of components made of lightweight materials such as titanium, aluminium and CFRP, weld designs and additive manufacturing. Andreas Enzenbach: "The reasons for the use of lightweight tools are machine requirements relating to speed, maximum tool change weight, spindle flexibility and improved axis and spindle dynamics. For external reamers in floating chucks, the motivation is the improved workpiece quality."
Tools and clamping devices are becoming digital
Dr. Niklas Kramer, Product & Industry Segment Director at Sandvik Tooling Deutschland, sees digitalisation as an opportunity "to provide our customers with application know-how in a direct and purposeful manner." However, it is still unclear which paths and platforms are best for getting information to the customer. The precondition for good advice is in any case the exact knowledge of the starting situation: "Specific context data from the machine tool are a huge step forward in this respect. The simpler and more uniform the data available to us are, the greater the user benefits."
Markus Horn, Managing Director at Paul Horn, sees tool specialists playing an important role in digitalisation and automation in metal working: "We see the greatest benefit in the digitalisation of tool data and the seamless integration of a tool in the process chain. The digital twin is the basis for higher productivity, e.g. the frequently demanded simulation of lathe turning and milling processes."
The manufacturers of clamping devices are also making a contribution. "We must consider the complete machining process, for only then can unnecessary clamping and set-up times be eliminated," says Stefan Nitsche, Head of Product Management at Hainbuch, with conviction.
One possible path: the "intelligent clamping device". For example, with a suitable chuck, the clamping force, the clamping diameter in the hundredth-millimetre range and the workpiece contact position can be recorded electronically and transmitted to the machine control system. "In order to make the clamping system even more intelligent and smarter, we see the independent compensation within the clamping device by means of actuators." In this way, for example, roundness errors of the workpiece in the area of the workpiece clamp can be intelligently compensated for.
Another major manufacturer of clamping devices is Schunk. Henrik Schunk, Managing Partner and CEO of the company, sees especially in Europe the "trend towards high-tech clamping devices and networked, fully automated solutions in which clamping devices, gripper systems, stacking and loading systems form a single unit." With digitalisation and networking, the clamping devices and grippers play a special role on account of their exposed position 'closest to the part': "They allow more flexible processes, as well as permanent process monitoring and optimisation."
Intelligent chucking tools like those from Schunk use their position "closest to the part" to supply machine tools and higher-level databases with process information.
Around 90,000 international specialist visitors and 1,500 exhibitors are expected to attend AMB in Stuttgart from 18 to 22 September 2018. On an exhibition area of more than 120,000 square metres, the exhibitors will showcase innovations and further developments for metal-cutting and metal-removing process machine tools, precision tools, measuring systems and quality assurance, robots, workpiece and tool handling, industrial software & engineering, components, assemblies and accessories. AMB 2018 is backed by the promotional supporters, i.e. the VDMA Precision Tools Association, the VDMA Software and Digitalisation Association, and the German Machine Tool Builders' Association (VDW).