Expert personnel and innovative manufacturing technologies have been the pillar of Technologie für Metallbearbeitung GmbH’s (TFM) success since it was founded in 1996. The service provider, which operates in the field of metal machining, employs 30 members of staff at its head office in Traun, and since 2009, an additional 40-strong workforce at its subsidiary TFM Slovakia. With an integrated spectrum of services ranging from design to final acceptance of sophisticated dies and moulds, TFM is always up to help their customers in any way they can. The company’s customers come from an extremely wide range of industries, from the toy industry, over consumer electronics and the packaging industry, to automotive construction. The company has taken a step towards the future of manufacturing technology with the LASERTEC 75 Shape from DMG Mori. The latest addition to TFM’s machinery enables individual laser texturing of 3D free-form surfaces and thus, offers almost limitless freedom when designing dies and moulds.
The rising demands, with respect to quality and short delivery times, dictate day-to-day business in the die and mould construction. “We respond to these developments by constantly optimising processes,” explained Corinna Lindinger, Managing Director, TFM. She went on to add that this is why the company is putting the existing technologies to the test and is on the lookout for new machining methods. “This was also the case with the LASERTEC 75 Shape,” remembered Michael Reitberger, who is responsible for Sales and Technical Plant Management at TFM.
Optimising processes through laser texturing
For TFM, laser texturing was a key step in optimising its processes and expanding its spectrum of services. “We, as one of the leading companies in Austria, have this technology in our portfolio and believe it has a huge potential for the future,” stated Lindinger, in an optimistic tone. Compared with conventional processes, she believes that laser texturing is far superior in many cases.
To name but a few examples, conventional processes include conventional cutting, electrode production and eroding, expensive and environmentally harmful etching. “Electrode production and eroding are process steps which we no longer need to deal with owing to the LASERTEC 75 Shape, which substantially shortens our throughput times,” clarified Reitberger, before going on to add that this increases flexibility in production operations and enables quicker delivery. “Another argument in favour of the DMG Mori machine is the large work area.” With travel paths of 750x650x560 mm (X/Y/Z) and a table loading capacity of up to 1000 kg, TFM is capable of efficiently texturing even large workpieces.
Individual designs and absolute reproducibility
The surface texture in the moulds give the finished products their unique appearance and a one-of-a-kind feel. This is where laser texturing scores top marks over conventional etching, in two ways – on the one hand, design engineers have a high degree of design-related freedom and can create individual textures on their PCs, and on the other hand, these textures can be reproduced at any time with absolute repeat accuracy. “All of this is based on a continuous, digital process chain – from the idea to the finished plastic part,” continued Reitberger. He also explained that the benefits include the high contour definition during laser machining.
The textures can be created both, in CAD programs and with graphics programs. It is also possible to scan a 3D object. In the end, the basis is always a bitmap file in which the texture is illustrated using greyscales. “The defined texture is created in such a way that the laser removes more material from the dark surfaces than it does from the light surfaces – with five axes and even in 3D free-form surfaces,” stated Christian Redtenbacher, someone who has spent 15 years in milling. While describing how the process works, he also mentioned that having the LASERTEC 75 Shape was a brand-new approach for him. “The training at DMG Mori provided all the necessary basic information. We have become familiar with the LASERTEC 75 Shape’s potential in practice since then.”
Lindinger believes that advanced training sessions, like those held in the case of laser texturing and the training courses for new talent, are significantly helping to strengthen the company. “On the one hand, a great deal of know-how is required to fully exploit the potential of modern manufacturing technologies and, on the other hand, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find good specialists,” commented Lindinger. This is precisely why investments were made in staff and in TFM’s interests, which includes expanding its machinery.
The LASERTEC 75 Shape showed where its strengths are within the first few months. According to Reitberger, TFM will build on these strengths, “Both, existing and new customers will benefit from the more efficient processes and the brand-new design possibilities – particularly in Austria, where the market is still young, but internationally too.”
Courtesy: DMG Mori