Additive manufacturing of high strength wear resistant materials -3D-printed metals gives new possibilities

The additive manufacturing industry (3D-printing) is growing quickly and are being more and more adapted to specific industrial needs. This presentation will present extremely wear resistant high strength materials made by additive manufacturing. The materials presented are Vibenite®150, Vibenite®280, and Vibenite®350. The materials are PM-based with high carbide content and with a unique combination of wear resistance, strength and toughness. The top material Vibenite®280 has a hardness of over 70 HRC and with the high carbide content, it has been proven to work very well in hobs for machining of gears and other wear applications.

These materials have been developed from the idea that the major possibility with 3D-printing is the combination of high wear resistance and complex geometries in near-net-shape (NNS), so that it is possible to choose better materials in a tool or a component without need for soft machining. The presentation will show data of additive manufactured materials and a special highlight on gear cutting tools.

Highlighted: additive manufactured gear cutting tools

As one example of an important tool manufactured in Vibenite®280 is gear cutting hobs. The VBN technology is to provide the tool makers with a hardened NNS-blank in extremely wear resistant material for the tool maker to finishing with grinding, see example Fig. 1. Before using it in gear cutting, the hobs are coated. A number of Vibenite® gear cutting tools for heavy trucks have been tested in real production at Volvo, Sweden, and a sum of results from one hob type at Volvo Construction Equipment is presented in Fig. 2. It has been shown that it is possible to increase feed and, also, get much lower edge wear.

Fig. 1. Finished light weight gear cutting hob before coating. In the near hob end, the rest of additive manufactured support structure is seen (grinding not necessary). Material: Vibenite® 280 Optimum 70.

Fig. 2. Wear data of additive manufactured gear cutting hobs in Vibenite®280 Optimum 70. While increasing feed rate for higher productivity, the edge wear is decreased. Optimum is not found yet.

Author of the article

Tech Dr Ulrik Beste
CTO VBN Components AB