Swedish tooling specialist among first to trial patternless casting with Römheld & Moelle
Speedtool, based in Jönköping, Sweden, specialise in machining and press tools for automotive, aerospace, offshore and solar & wind energy applications. The Speedtool team were among the first to order and receive castings made using the new Printed Casting process at Römheld & Moelle. Here, we speak to Martin Bexdal, Marketing manager at Speedtool about super-fast turnaround times and new levels of casting precision.
R&M: Martin, tell us a bit about Speedtool. What’s your core business?
: We’ve been building our business around our in-house engineering, machining and forming simulation capabilities. They allow us to manufacture tooling of extreme precision and quality. The equipment we’ve got here in Jönköping – five-axis, heavy-duty HSM milling and several smaller five and three axis milling machines – enable us to produce large tools of up to 40t. But because we’ve got such state-of-the-art machinery, we like working on smaller, more intricate tools too. In addition to making all-new tools from new steel, we also use our machining capabilities for our customers‘ maintenance and we are always ready in case of emergency breakdowns in their equipment.
R&M: What do you come to Römheld & Moelle for? Why do you buy from us?
We trust Römheld & Moelle to meet our high quality expectations and stick to estimated lead times. In particularly urgent cases, Römheld & Moelle have really helped us in the past by reducing an already fast 5-week lead time even more.
R&M: Is speed the reason you tried our Printed Casting process?
The lead times for patternless castings are attractive, but that wasn’t the reason for our initial order. It was about precision. We were looking to make a transfer die with a series of blank holders with very little clearance between them. If we had ordered a traditional casting, it would have come with 10mm allowance to mill down from to the clearance required. Instead, we were able to get the parts with only 3mm allowance all round, which saved us money due to much reduced post-processing. Across the three dies, we’ve saved up to €10,000 because there was much less machining left to do.
R&M: What other advantages have you noticed about the Printed Casting process?
The dimensional accuracy is much better than for traditionally made castings. All measurements have been within 1mm, which means we can go with a smaller allowance of only 3mm, as in the example I’ve just mentioned. That makes it a lot easier for us to mill the castings.
The surface finish is a lot better as well. First of all, it looks better, which makes our customers happy. But we’ve also found that it’s a great surface for the rubber coatings we sometimes apply to certain tools. We’ve recently had a project where we tested this, and the surface of the printed casting was ideal for direct application of the rubber, with a really good connection between steel surface and rubber coating.
Lastly, the shorter lead times of the patternless process enable us to use castings even where customer deadlines would ordinarily rule this out.
R&M: Is there anything else you’d like to see in the context of Printed Casting?
It would be nice if the prices came down. Printed castings are currently more expensive than traditionally produced ones. We are calculating on a case-by-case basis whether the money saved on post-processing balances out the higher price.
For hot forming tools, we’d love to see built-in cooling systems in the castings, as that would save a lot of money.
R&M: What do you think the future holds for the Printed Casting process?
Within the current capabilities and possibilities, the Printed Casting process is mainly suited to smaller castings and small series, or applications where exact dimensions are paramount. Those are the cases where you can save money by going patternless. But I think there is still room for additive manufacturing in this area to develop further and open up even more possibilities that make it attractive for a wider range of castings.
R&M: Martin, thank you for your time.
At Römheld & Moelle, we now offer all customers the option of saving time and money by going patternless with our Printed Casting process. We will continue to develop, refine and expand our offering in this area – to give you options and solutions to suit your needs. Find out more here: https://castfast.de/