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DMG MORI’s Patrick Diederich explains new strategy as metal AM full service provider

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With the significant further development in the field of additive manufacturing, by means of both powder fed and powder bed techniques, DMG MORI is now able to offer both the most important generative manufacturing processes under one roof. In this interview, Patrick Diederich, responsible for Advanced Technologies at DMG MORI, talks about the way the company now presents itself as a full-service provider in the additive manufacture of metallic components.

Additive manufacturing has long proven its enormous potential in recent times. The annual growth rate of today’s still small market is over 30 percent, even considerably higher in part in the field of metallic components. According to recent studies, additive manufacturing will grow by between 20 to 50 percent by the year 2020. In other words, the market will grow by a factor of 2 to 4. It makes sense for a technological leader DMG MORI to be consistently involved in this development. DMG MORI has already been operating successfully in the field of additive manufacturing with laser deposition welding with powder nozzle technology for four years now. With its recently acquired majority shareholding in REALIZER GmbH from Borchen, the company has now extended its portfolio to include powder bed fusion (PBF) technology.

DMG MORI has been operating successfully in the field of additive manufacturing with laser deposition welding with powder nozzle technology for four years now. With its recently acquired majority shareholding in REALIZER GmbH from Borchen, DMG MORI has also extended its portfolio to include powder bed technology. In this interview, Patrick Diederich, at DMG MORI responsible for Advanced Technologies, talks about the way DMG MORI now presents itself as a full-service provider in the additive manufacture of metallic components.

Mr Diederich, additive manufacturing is a young technology with great potential. How do explain this potential?

“Future-orientated and highly competitive branches are always on the lookout for innovative and cost-effective production opportunities. They are therefore often seen as the drivers of new technologies. This also applies to additive manufacturing, so it is not surprising that it is gradually being adopted in the aerospace and medical technology sectors. The USA, Europe, Korea and Japan, in particular, have become established here as core markets. Aircraft manufacturers see great potential in the chance to reduce the weight of components. Additive manufacturing is already wide spread in medical technology production and dental laboratories because it offers economical solutions for many different applications even with batch size 1.”

DMG MORI is established in these branches of industry primarily as a provider of metal cutting manufacturing solutions…

“That is true and as a long-standing supplier for these and other innovation-driven branches we, of course, always keep an eye on the future. That is why DMG MORI is also actively forging ahead with additive manufacturing.”

… On the one hand with the LASERTEC 3D machines, you developed yourself and on the other hand by acquiring REALIZER GmbH. What was the reason for the merger?

“For four years now we have successfully combined laser deposition welding with a powder nozzle and 5-axis milling in a single setup in the form of the LASERTEC 3D series. The LASERTEC SLM technology stands for selective laser melting in a powder bed. Now, we offer both technologies under one roof and they complement each other ideally in our product range. The powder bed process, in particular, has a market share of 80 percent where the additive manufacturing of metallic components is concerned.”

Does that mean you address different target groups with the two technologies?

The applications are different. The 5-axis LASERTEC 65 3D hybrid and the LASERTEC 4300 3D hybrid for 6-axis turn-mill machining are designed for manufacturing relatively large parts like complex turbine parts, for instance. Work areas of ø 500 x 400 mm in the case of the LASERTEC 65 3D hybrid and ø 660 x 1,300 mm for the LASERTEC 4300 3D hybrid speak for themselves, as do workpiece weights of up to 600 kg or rather 900 kg. The real revolution in the machine concept of the LASERTEC 3D hybrid series lies in the many diverse application possibilities. In the first place, laser deposition welding and milling or rather turn-mill machining in a single setup mean that workpieces can be manufactured right through to finished part quality. Whereby the powder nozzle and milling head can be changed over at any time. Especially where complex geometries are concerned, areas can be machined that would no longer be accessible on the finished part. Such applications are called for in particular in the aerospace, energy technology and die and mould branches. Added to this is the option of manufacturing components made of two or more materials.

What are the strengths of the LASERTEC SLM machines?

“With the powder bed technique very small, highly complex filigree parts can be manufactured by means of selective laser melting. The LASERTEC 30 SLM enables the flexible use of different materials in one machine, while an intelligent powder module concept allows the change of material in under two hours.”

But the quality of the parts does not normally meet the high demands on accuracy…

“This is where our strengths in metal-cutting production come into play. DMG MORI relies on its own milling machines for the post processing of workpieces from the powder bed. The key issue here is an expedient linking of the different technologies – both where the hardware is concerned and the software. Our development cooperation with Siemens NX for an end-to-end CAD/CAM solution will, of course, be extended to encompass the powder bed process. Integral processes are the overriding goal.”

These are also seen everywhere in Industry 4.0. How important is this topic for you?

“It is also of great importance for DMG MORI. Our “Path of Digitization” with intelligent software solutions, including our intuitive user interface CELOS is a real driver in this field. CELOS is already used for the LASERTEC 3D hybrid machines and the industrial solution RDesigner, created by REALIZER especially for the powder bed, will also be integrated into a CELOS® interface in future. The capture and management of data and the utilisation of user-friendly apps offer a great opportunity for supporting work preparation and the production processes in their entirety. This means digitisation has a great impact on optimum utilisation of capacities and on the flexibility of a production. It enables a transition to individual mass production in industrial serial production. Spare parts, for example, no longer need to be held in stock worldwide. They can be printed virtually “on demand”. Digitization and additive manufacturing go hand in hand here to tap this great potential.”

How do you estimate your chances in additive manufacturing?

“As a pioneer in metal cutting machine tools in combination with our decades of experience in laser applications, we are together with the expertise of REALIZER ideally positioned to take on a leading role in the additive manufacture of metallic components. Added to this, in the fields of service, application and sales DMG MORI is present for customers around the world. In future DMG MORI will concentrate this expertise in the DMG MORI Additive Manufacturing Excellence Centers in Bielefeld, Pfronten, Tokio, Shanghai and Chicago. The experts there get involved in the development of the customers’ products at an early stage of development. Thus they learn together for the construction of future machines and components. Before the year is out we will launch the LASERTEC 65 3D for purely laser deposition welding. The larger LASERTEC 125 3D hybrid is planned for 2018. The trend in powder bed processes is towards higher productivity, which we will achieve by means of both a larger build volume as well as with further linking and automation of the processes – in other words with a reduction of idle times.”

Additive manufacturing will also change the development of components. Has that fact already dawned on the design engineers?

“Unfortunately, not everywhere as yet, but design engineers will increasingly recognise the potential of additive manufacturing and will integrate the technology in their work. After all, they will be able to realize workpieces in this way that they would not be able to produce with conventional manufacturing processes. That is why we view additive manufacturing as a revolutionary and expedient complement to traditional production methods. Our DMG MORI Academy also has several machines with the LASERTEC 30 SLM in Bielefeld and the LASERTEC 65 3D hybrid in Pfronten in order to give customers highly qualified training in ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING.”


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