DMG Mori, a German manufacturer of cutting machine tools, is using its LASERTEC hybrid 3D printer and CNC mill to produce components for Porsche racing cars. The company is predicting an imminent and dramatic rise in 3D printing technology within the automotive and aerospace industries.
The automobile industry has swerved to the left and is driving down a new lane—a faster lane. With more and more auto components being 3D printed, often to great effect, the whole industry is racing to catch up with additive manufacturing technology and its wide range of potential uses. Take the case of DMG Mori for instance, one of Europe’s foremost machine tool manufacturers, which has been using 3D printing to make parts for Porsche, the iconic German automobile company.
The implementation of 3D printing technology has greatly improved efficiency within the company, and has enabled workers to create physical products in a matter of hours, rather than weeks or months. "In the past, the whole process—from concept to production—could take six weeks or more," said DMG Mori CEO Rüdiger Kapitza. ”Today, you can make a design on the computer at midday, and have the finished component in your hand by the evening.”
In actual fact, Bielefeld-based DMG Mori even has the ability to use a combination of additive and subtractive manufacturing techniques to produce its fine-tuned parts for Porsche and other clients. Using its all-in-one LASERTEC machine, the German company has been able to create 3D printed parts, before cutting and sculpting those parts using CNC milling technology—all within a single device.
Thanks to innovative technology such as that found in the LASERTEC 3D printer / CNC mill hybrid, 3D printing is becoming a more and more central part of the DMG Mori enterprise, both creatively and financially. In 2015, the company’s additive manufacturing products and services resulted in a turnover of 70 million euros, a figure expected to rise to 100 million euros this year.
In terms of the wide variety of potential 3D printing applications, DMG’s collaboration with Porsche is, according to Kapitza, just the beginning. The CEO claims to have learned a lot from his work with Porsche, but soon expects to be 3D printing aircraft components and potentially even engine components for both road and air vehicles. “SLS and SLM technology is developing incredibly fast,” said Kapitza.
For DMG and its sister company in Japan, additive manufacturing is proving a significant windfall. With sales reaching 2.3 billion euros, 2015 represented the most successful year in the company’s 147-year history.