SMS forging press lubrication in operation SMS group
Spray heads deliver lubricant that cools and lubricates forging dies between press strokes, allowing the dies to withstand the constant high stress of the operation.

Forging Press Component Wins Design Award

SMS group’s 3DP spray heads for forging dies offer advantages in functionality, cost, and forging process effectiveness

Forging press builder SMS group won the German Design Award 2019 in the 'Industry' category for its 3D-printed spray heads, for cooling dies. The competition judges noted that the in addition to the design of the unit, the spray heads illustrate several of the advantageous qualities of additive manufacturing for industrial design and functionality.

The German Design Council presents the German Design Award annually to recognize innovative products and projects, and the companies or individuals who design and manufacture them.

Spray heads are installed in closed-die forging presses to remove scale from the dies between the individual press strokes. Spraying lubricant also cools, lubricates, and dries the die surface.

SMS group designs and manufactures forging presses of various types, which prompted the decision to manufacture the spray heads using 3D printing. Conventionally manufactured spray heads reach a maximum effectiveness fairly quickly and must be replaced frequently.

SMS groupSMS illustration, 3DP die spray heads

3DP production allows the die-spray heads to designed more optimally and produced in a lighter material. This reduces the weight of the spray heads, which lowers the mass to be accelerated, so cycle times of the forging processes can be shortened. Also, because the customized spray heads can be produced “on demand” if necessary, the operator’s inventory costs are reduced.

The starting material for the new 3DP spray heads is a fine, polyamide-based powder that the developer reports produces a spray head structure that is 90% lighter than an identical part cast in steel. This improvement speeds up handling and placement/replacement of the spraying heads, which also adds to process efficiency.

While the new-design spray heads are significantly smaller, they feature “flow optimized channels” and cool the dies more specifically, and as required for individual case production sequences. “Die areas subjected to intensive heating are cooled at a correspondingly – precisely calculated – higher rate than areas less hot,” according to SMS.

Also, the new spray heads can be produced virtually just in time, it is reported.

The 3DP spray heads are the result of a joint effort by the Forging Plants Department, the Additive Manufacturing Project Team, and the simulation technology experts of SMS group.

“Winning the Design Award makes us extremely proud. It is recognition of many teams within SMS group whose work is characterized by a highly interdisciplinary approach,” according to Axel Roßbach, of the R&D team for Extrusion and Forging Presses at SMS. “The spray head is a milestone innovation marking a new era in the design of plant and machine components, enabled by the game-changing potential of 3D printing and function-optimized design.

“The design of a machine part is today no longer limited by the constraints imposed by conventional – process-optimized – forming and machining techniques,” Roßbach continued. “Supported by latest software and computer technology, we can now give a component exactly the design that fulfils its designated function in the best possible way. Another important aspect is that we have used new materials. Therefore the Award honors not only a new design, but above all the new way of thinking lived within SMS group, which has materialized in a global approach to additive manufacturing.”

For Bharat Forge in Ennepetal, Germany, 3DP spray heads were designed specifically to allow switching between water and a graphite-based spraying fluid. “The spraying pattern is much more homogeneous now,” according to Roßbach. “The dies are cleaner. Consequently the overall consumption of spraying fluid has decreased.

“Also handling is easier than with the conventionally manufactured spray heads. Accumulations of material, as frequently occurring inside the former spray heads, have not been found thanks to the flow-optimized design of the fluid channels,” he said.

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