On the same wavelength

Michael Greidenweis is an enthusiastic tennis player, enjoys mountain biking and loves modern art. Thomas Marquardt jogs, loves skiing, sings in a choir and is involved in local politics. But one thing the CEO of Greidenweis GmbH and the Head of Automation agree on is the integration of Greidenweis into the CHIRON Group: With combined expertise, we can tackle new and larger projects, and the CHIRON Group can offer highly individualized solutions for the automation of overall processes, which is increasingly in demand.

But what are the priorities in Spaichingen and Tuttlingen, Germany, and how can machining, assembly and production processes be made even more efficient? And which projects are in the pipeline? Michael Greidenweis and Thomas Marquardt discuss this in the video, and further information is provided in the interview.

Mr. Greidenweis, Mr. Marquardt: How will customers of the CHIRON Group benefit from the new brand GREIDENWEIS? And, by the same token, what are the advantages for the customers of Greidenweis, which is now a subsidiary of the Group?

Michael Greidenweis: Our common goal is to provide highly productive, individualized complete solutions. As soon as the takeover was announced, we saw high levels of interest. We have received project requests from the agricultural and wood industry and from the automotive sector. A new thing for us is that these project requests focus on the machining center and require the integration of further steps after machining, such as the loading and unloading, washing, testing, screwing, gluing, assembling. Our expertise is needed here. Another plus point: Due to our integration into the CHIRON Group, we receive significantly more inquiries and, with access to the expertise in the Group, we can jointly tackle new, exciting projects, for example in the areas of medical technology, drive technology, e-motors and fuel cells.

Thomas Marquardt: Together, we are strengthening our field of expertise in automation, successively extending our »modules« and can tackle and optimally support larger projects. Until now, our automation solutions have focused on the loading and unloading of workpieces after the machining process. In the automotive industry, interlinking after machining has long been an issue. Now, with the help of Greidenweis, we can transfer this knowledge to other industries and make machining, assembly and production processes even more efficient with innovative automation solutions. This applies to applications ranging from high-volume parts production on a single machining center to complex production lines – starting with blanking, followed by machining, through to end-of-line testing.

How have customer requirements and demand for automation changed over the years and what is the focus now?

Michael Greidenweis: Even today, the focus is of course on the hardware, but integration of the automation modules in the superordinate systems is becoming increasingly important. The key words here are software, control technology, networked production, Industry 4.0. When I started, you had to dig deep into the design and develop everything yourself. Today, it's more like Lego – it's about adapting existing components to specific projects and bringing them together to form a functioning unit.

Thomas Marquardt: For us, it began back in 1996 with the automatic replacement of devices on the Flexline. The VarioCell Uno launched in 2008 was the first automation system for replacing workpieces. Automation today turns a machining center into an autonomous, highly productive and flexible manufacturing unit. Highly automated processes are increasingly in demand, in order to consistently achieve the best quality, even during unattended shifts. Of course, especially in Germany, other factors that are driving demand are the increasing wage costs and skills shortages. We implement turnkey solutions with everything that goes hand in hand with them: CNC machines, tools, machining process, clamping devices and automation. The numbers speak for themselves: Four years ago, the share of automation in project machines was 50 percent, but this year it is over 80 percent. We also have more manpower to tackle projects now. In 2008 there were just three of us and now we have 31 employees in engineering plus a further six to eight in applications assembly.

Can you describe the collaboration between Spaichingen and Tuttlingen in detail? What joint projects are underway?

Thomas Marquardt: The collaboration is running at two levels – operational on the one hand and strategic on the other. At operational level, product planning supports the integration process, while at the automation team in Tuttlingen we come into play on the technical side, in other words with project content, technical agreements, project coordination. For example, for the development of a bar feeder, in which the specialists from Spaichingen are involved. We also have other projects underway, in which we support each other. Greidenweis currently provides services for the assembly of memory modules as well as for project planning, design and assembly of special modules.

Michael Greidenweis: The second level is the Executive Board. We meet here once a month to define targets and strategies. And it's going very well. All superordinate integration processes, from IT to accounting, are running smoothly, and some have already been completed. The acceptance by employees in the Automation department is also very positive. It's all going really well and everyone is on the same wavelength.

Mr. Greidenweis, one last question: Which arguments tipped your decision in favor of the CHIRON Group in your selection process for the company succession?

Michael Greidenweis: There were several. The CHIRON Group was of particular interest to us in terms of the products and the objective of the collaboration – automation after machining. The spatial proximity is also a plus. Automation is complex and frequent discussions are required. This can be done quickly and easily where there is a distance of just 15 kilometers between us. What I and the employees here in Spaichingen found particularly important was that we didn't want our family company to be sold to an anonymous investor somewhere abroad that only cares about the numbers. Nor to a large corporation where our expertise would be »swallowed up«. The CHIRON Group is a network of strong brands, all of which have their own brand essence and yet all of which are integrated in the big picture. The CHIRON Group also represents the values of a family company, through its long-term membership of Holding Hoberg & Driesch, and so we feel we are in the best of hands here.

You can learn more about »A new dimension of automation« during a presentation at the CHIRON Group OPEN HOUSE on Wednesday, May 10. Click here for the full lecture program.

You can read more about GREIDENWEIS as a »brand of the CHIRON Group« on the new corporate website, and more about the additional fields of expertise of edge folding, joining, bonding and laminating on the brand website: www.greidenweis-sondermaschinen.de/en

Machining of e-motor housings: productive, flexible and preferably vertical

Currently, almost a million electric cars are registered globally each month and simultaneously the number of product types is also growing; ranging from compact EVs for the city to plug-in hybrids for longer distances. Therefore large quantities of e-motor housings need to be machined as productively as possible. At the same time, flexibility is required when machining component variants and small batches. A contradiction? Not at all – instead these are the ideal tasks for the 22 Series. For the single or double-spindle machining centers and the new DZ 22 S mill turn system 8 combined milling and turning.

Vertical milling and mill-turning are core expertises of the CHIRON Group. But how do the advantages of vertical machining come into play, especially in the production of stator and motor housings for e-mobility? Why is the CHIRON Group the benchmark here with the 22 Series and sets the standard in terms of best surfaces, highest geometric accuracy and short throughput times?

Machining with gravity
It all starts with physics. To be specific, with gravity. Vertical machining makes use of this when clamping the workpieces - both for manual loading and unloading and for automated feeding and removal. In addition, physics supports the machining process, for example when boring large diameters. The cutting edges on the tool are not negatively affected by gravity and rotate equally in the desired circular form. This also applies when machining e-motor housings, if heavy and long tools are used. The result: consistently excellent surface quality and the highest geometric precision.

»In comparison with horizontal solutions, vertical machining centers make better use of the forces of physics. This makes it possible to have consistently excellent surface quality and the highest geometric precision.«
Michael Rothenburger
Head of Core Workpieces Automotive

Whereas for horizontal machining, these tools usually need guide rails so that they don't tip towards an oval shape – with corresponding negative effects on the quality of the workpiece.

An additional major advantage for the best surface quality, precision and a damage-free process: Chips fall downwards, away from the workpiece and are discharged in a controlled manner.

Advantages of vertical machining with the 22 Series

  • Best surface quality and precision

  • Optimal power flow in the highly stable machine construction

  • No tilting moment caused by the weight of the tool

  • Tools up to 25 kg, 450 mm long and 300 mm diameter

  • All tool concepts possible, even without guide rails

  • Optimal clamping situation, workpiece is placed using its own weight

  • Simple clamping designs possible

  • Reduced set-up and maintenance times

But gravity alone does not ensure the required productivity. The 22 Series takes on these responsibilities.

 Predestined for large quantities: the DZ 22 W, here with a clamped e-motor housing
Predestined for large quantities: the DZ 22 W, here with a clamped e-motor housing

Machining housings for e-mobility – all the possibilities with the 22 Series
Whether a stator, rotor or e-motor housing for diverse hybrid variants or for an all-electric car: Since 2020, the 22 Series from the CHIRON Group enables them to offer the appropriate manufacturing technologies for components with a diameter up to 600 mm. And a variety of options for dynamic, precise machining for reduced unit costs: 4- or 5-axis. Single or double spindle. For difficult machining with high torque. Manual loading or automated with a robot or gantry.

So, lots of options. However, according to Michael Rothenburger, Head of Core Workpieces Automotive, »nobody must remember them. What matters is that we can use these options and our expertise in automotive to design a manufacturing process that exactly according to the requirements.«

E-motor housings: one workpiece, many variants

»At the beginning, when e-mobility was having to establish itself and accordingly the variety of components was high, then the production concept to recommend itself was mill-turning, more precisely STAMA MT technology. Today, the next generation DZ 22 S mill turn system 8 machining centers are suited for this type of machining. In contrast, when machining large quantities, ideally the double-spindle machine types DZ 22 in combination with special tools that are used,« explains Gerhard Ulmer, Head of Sales Industries. In his view, the 22 Series machines offer »a huge advantage: The processes from the MT technology can be transferred one-to-one to series production. The operating personnel are already familiar with it. The components within the 22 Series are the same – keyword: spare parts – and automation can be scaled accordingly. All of this increases machine availability and reduces the overall operating costs.«

Complete simulated process before the first chip
As part of the project planning for a new machining solution with the 22 Series, there is a workpiece time calculation in 3D as well as a VNCK-based simulation. This means that at an early theory stage, a realistic process can be depicted in detail. The result: a collision-proof NC program for quick commissioning and a high level of process safety from day one.

Process advantages of the 22 Series

  • 4- or 5-axis machining

  • Automated loading and unloading during machine operation with a workpiece change time of 3.5 s

  • HSK-A 63 with 12,500 to 20,000 rpm, up to a max. 200 Nm, 2 x 77 tools

  • HSK-A 100 up to 10,000 rpm, up to a max. 408 Nm, 2 x 52 tools, for difficult-to-cut materials

  • Highly dynamic 75 – 75 – 75 m/min

  • Chip-to-chip time of 2.2s with HSK-A 63 or 2.9 s with HSK-A 100

  • Also as a complete interlinked system, portal or robot

Dobrodošli u obitelj, HSTEC!

Welcome to the family, HSTEC! Since August 1, the CHIRON Group has not only had 100 new employees, of which 25 are in Engineering, but has also had a new brand in its network. A system partner for innovative spindle drive technology for the machining centers of the Group as well as for workpiece clamping devices and spindle services.

This summer, by acquiring 90 percent of the Croatian company, the CHIRON Group once again made positive headlines in the industry media, following on from the integration of GREIDENWEIS in January. Both cases were of course about growth. But also about the questions: How do we want to grow? How can we offer our customers even more expertise and thus become even more attractive as a partner for our customers, tapping new business fields and markets?

For Dr. Jens König, responsible for the technical integration of the spindle business of HSTEC in his role as Head of Mechatronics, the advantages are obvious: »By insourcing motor spindles, which are a key component, we are strengthening three fields of expertise at once: We are taking on responsibility for the entire process inhouse – development, production and assembly. Using these devices for workpiece clamping, we can design turnkey projects, such as for the Automotive industry, even more in line with customer requirements. And we are expanding our services globally, regardless of manufacturer, to include part repair, refurbishing and optimizing of motor spindles in existing machines of the CHIRON Group.«

For Mladen Šarlija, former CEO and now Managing Director of the new subsidiary CHIRON Croatia, there is also a big plus to the takeover: »We gain a significant degree of engineering skill and global presence. In return, we are only too happy to give up the previous suffix in our name ›High Speed Technique‹ and are delighted to now be called ›HSTEC – Brand of the CHIRON Group‹.«

The teams from Tuttlingen, Germany, and Zadar, Croatia, have been in close communication since August and have combined their respective expertise in the development of motor spindles and in the production of CHIRON Group machines. The first spindles arrived in Tuttlingen at the beginning of 2023 and have since been put their paces in various machining scenarios. For example, in a test machine in R&D, in assembly and, in continuous use, in our own production process. According to Dr. König, the spindles »have been jointly optimized in terms of costs and technology, based on our field experience with customers and decades of expertise in development of HSTEC and are more than capable of holding their own in a comparison with competitor spindles. In particular, their maximum stability during high-performance milling as well as maximum electrical power density are impressive.«

The market launch is planned for June and the first machining centers with the new high-speed motor spindles »designed and made by the CHIRON Group« will be delivered over the course of the year. The OPEN HOUSE event in May will offer the opportunity to see a spindle live in action on a 16 Series machining center.

HSTEC will continue to maintain its representations in Germany and China and will continue is previous activities in the field of industrial automation, for example. The representation of Balluff, Bosch Rexroth, Hofmann, Wittenstein Alphagetriebe and Mitutoyo will also be retained for the Croatian market.

 From left: Dr. Jens König, Head of Mechatronics CHIRON Group and Mladen Šarlija, Managing Director CHIRON Croatia
From left: Dr. Jens König, Head of Mechatronics CHIRON Group and Mladen Šarlija, Managing Director CHIRON Croatia

You can find more information about HSTEC as a »Brand of the CHIRON Group« on the new Corporate Website , and more on the new subsidiary CHIRON Croatia in the Newsticker »News from the CHIRON Group«.

New applications and a new system for added value via Additive Manufacturing

In 2020, the CHIRON Group introduced the AM Cube, a 3D metal printer for component production, coating and repair using Laser Metal Deposition. This was followed in 2022 by the arrival of the second innovation in the Additive Manufacturing expertise area: AM Coating for applying extremely hard coatings to brake disks – to be demonstrated live for the first time at the CHIRON Group OPEN HOUSE. Why first a multi-talent and now a system explicitly designed for a single application? Dr. Géza Koscsák, the new Head of Additive Manufacturing since October 2022, answers these and other questions about the processes, the very different types of added value and the further deepening of expertise thanks to the innovative technology.

read time: 13 min read this article on one page

Dr. Koscsák, perhaps you would first briefly outline what has happened since the AM Cube was unveiled three years ago?
The process of Laser Metal Deposition (LMD) is now well known. We have established the process here in the field of Additive Manufacturing in recent years and built up extensive expertise in the technology and in coating materials. However, we'll see: Technologies such as milling and turning have existed for many decades and undergone continuous development. Laser Metal Deposition is a very young technology that will require intensive dialog with customers in order to harness its full potential. We've noticed certain things over the past few months: The quality of the inquiries has increased significantly. In other words: It's not just about some idea that could be tried out with the new technology, but about specific tasks for which the customer has done the necessary preliminary work. And this is also necessary in order to gain initial positive experience with the new technology. In many cases, promising applications have already been investigated and clear specifications defined. This is a very good basis for jointly developing the ideal process in each case: Defining the target component, material, feasibility study, evaluation of positive effects, extensive field tests to validate the initial results, optimization, etc..

The AM Cube is advertised as »easy to use«. Based on your remarks about the complex path to the ideal process, it doesn't sound quite so simple.
We need to make a distinction here: In the actual application, with the process in place, the AM Cube is indeed »easy to use«. Keywords familiar control components from Siemens, programming in DIN ISO in a Cartesian coordinate system, intuitive operation via TouchLine. Of course, as soon as programming in CAM is required, the corresponding qualification is needed. But learning a new technology is certainly an exciting new option for some employees. We also provide training as needed. As for the process leading to a ready-to-use application: There really are no »off-the-shelf« solutions here, but this is precisely what makes the AM Cube so universal in terms of its possible applications. Finding the best solution is a process with numerous variables that we bring together in a turnkey project and in close collaboration with the customer. The AM Cube offers features that support the user in identifying this solution.

 From coating of components to repair and near-net-shape production of semi-finished products with automatic application head change: It’s all possible with the AM Cube.
From coating of components to repair and near-net-shape production of semi-finished products with automatic application head change: It’s all possible with the AM Cube.

You spoke about optimizing the direction of the ideal process. To be able to do this, you need not only expertise, but also a solid database. How is the data obtained?
Similar to the machining centers of the CHIRON Group using digital systems. For the AM Cube 3D metal printer and also for AM Coating, that's two. DataLine AM continually displays, records and documents relevant process data in real time, meaning that the product and process quality can be reliably assessed. Meanwhile, VisioLine AM visualizes and saves video files recorded by multiple camera systems, thereby enabling systematic process monitoring.

Can you give some examples where customers are generating real added value with the AM Cube and gaining an advantage over their competitors?
Basically, wherever LMD – whether conventional or high-speed – does not simply replace a previous process like-for-like, but offers an added advantage: longer service life, a faster process, another useful material property, reduced energy consumption, consistently high quality. An example from the energy sector: A large gear wheel that drives a wind turbine is very costly and energy-intensive to manufacture. The energy balance can already be significantly improved by using recycled steel. If this wheel is not replaced with a new one when it wears out, but is repaired in an automated LMD process, this again saves a significant amount of energy. Or, from mold making: In this case, the AM Cube is increasingly establishing itself in the repair of forging molds such as dies, cutting tools or casting molds up to 1,000 kg and with diameters up to 1,000 mm. If cutting rings are welded automatically using LMD, the tool life increases by a factor of 2.5 to 3 compared to conventional manual welding. The application of protective coatings to tools is particularly interesting for highly abrasive applications in the mining, marine and agricultural sectors. This increases the service life of the often expensive tools. Fully coated tools also wear evenly and do not need to be replaced when only one heavily stressed part is worn. In this area, we are working to replace older processes such as plasma coating or high velocity oxygen fuel (HVOF) coating. The aim is to save on energy and raw materials and thereby reduce manufacturing or repair costs.

With the AM Cube, therefore, there are a large number of possible applications; with the new AM Coating system, there is only one – coating brake disks. Why?
To clarify: Without the intensive development work we have done and continue to do for the AM Cube, for the process, the coating materials, etc., AM Coating would not exist. AM Coating is one of these possible applications. First, we tested and optimized the coating of brake disks with the AM Cube and, on this basis, developed the new system specifically for this process. Since brake disks are produced in large quantities and will also be coated in the future, a universal line does not guarantee the required efficiency in this case. AM Coating is, in fact, one of many conceivable successful turnkey projects with the AM Cube that we have realized internally and now offer as an operational system for series production.

»Using high-speed Laser Metal Deposition, the best coating quality can be achieved consistently, for each individual brake disk, with no porosity or cracking.«

AM Coating was first unveiled at Formnext 2022, at that point still in the Interactive Showroom. At the OPEN HOUSE in May, the system for coating brake disks will be seen live in operation for the first time. Can you briefly describe the process and its advantages?
AM Coating applies extremely hard coatings to brake disks using high-speed Laser Metal Deposition. These provide the cast iron disk with long-lasting protection against corrosion and wear. Coating therefore makes a major contribution to the urgently needed reduction of particulate emissions. This is also necessary in the context of the Euro 7 standard, which comes into force on 1 July 2025 and applies to all new registrations. In other words, not only for new models introduced after this date, but also for vehicle models that are already on the market.

OEMs or OEM suppliers naturally want to know: How quickly is a brake disk coated? Is the new process competitive and designed for high volumes?
In this case, we can categorically say: AM Coating is more than competitive and we have driven development in two key areas. One is in the coating process itself: Thanks to the high laser power, we are able to apply common coating systems at extreme speeds. Application rates well above 1,000 cm2/min. are possible - naturally without compromising on coating quality. On the other hand, we have modified the system concept in such a way to enable high productivity. We use the well known principle of pendulum machining. AM Coating has two working areas, with the laser for front and rear coating alternating or, ideally, shuttling back and forth between these working areas. While a brake disk is being coated in one working area, it is being replaced by a robot in the other. If two AM Coating lines are running, each with robot loading, the line cycle time is about one minute. This combination of system plus automation can be easily scaled according to the projected number of pieces. Earlier, we mentioned established expertise: The CHIRON Group also has this in the automation of processes, so we can offer a perfectly coordinated complete system for Additive Manufacturing from a single source. This offers clear added value for customers.

What if a customer is not yet ready, if the process is not yet in place or needs to be further developed alongside series production?
AM Coating single is the ideal choice if you would like to test materials and material combinations alongside or before series production, to develop the application process or manufacture small series. On request, we are happy to provide support for process development, either at the customer's site or in Tuttlingen. An example scenario could be as follows: We install a basic machine, which we use to familiarize the customer's specialists with the process, run tests and jointly design the parameters to prepare for series production. Or, for a continuous and even more productive process, we can integrate a grinding machine and perfectly coordinate both systems.

What about the quality of the coating? Keywords cracking, durability?
It's clear that the productivity and quality have to be right. By using high-speed Laser Metal Deposition, we achieve improved adhesion through a bonded connection. The layers are also thinner, down to tenths of a millimeter. As a result, much less material is consumed and powder management ensures a high powder utilization rate. The powder and hard material layers are applied directly one after the other. Once the first layer has been applied, the brake disk is »tempered« and we consistently achieve the best coating quality for each brake disk without the formation of pores or cracks. We will be demonstrating exactly how the process works on an AM Coating single at the CHIRON Group OPEN HOUSE.

Dr. Géza Koscsák will be on hand to speak with anyone who has questions about AM Cube or AM Coating in advance, would like to discuss a specific application or make an appointment during the OPEN HOUSE.

Dr. Géza Koscsák,
Head of Additive Manufacturing

Tel. +49 7021 5724452
[email protected]

You can find out more about the processes and advantages here.