AM Cube: A real all-rounder

The CHIRON Group's AM Cube is not just a 3D metal printer but a real all-rounder. For example, it can be used for applying coatings or repairing components, as well as near-net-shape manufacturing of semi-finished products. The AM Cube produces the best surface quality and high deposition volumes in a single process and uses extensive expertise in machining centers as the basis for a new patent-pending technology. Axel Boi, Head of Additive Manufacturing explains what makes this printer is so special and allows it to perform a wide range of tasks.

Mr. Boi, let's get straight to the point, why has the CHIRON Group developed a 3D metal printer?
The CHIRON Group offers its customers complete solutions from a single source. Not just machining centers, automation, or – as is the case with other providers – 3D metal printers. We believe that additive processes perfectly complement the Group's subtractive ones. We do concentrate on material removal but our customers also benefit from the extensive expertise we've built up in metalworking and machining centers for deposition applications. It therefore makes absolute sense for us to add 3D metal printing to our range.

What exactly is the AM Cube suitable for – how does it deliver on its promise of being a real all-rounder?
3D printing is used for small quantities, which means that the system must be flexible. The AM Cube is designed to manufacture larger components with high material prices or long procurement times and is therefore suitable for use in mechanical engineering, tool manufacturing, energy production and the aerospace industry. What makes it unique and very different from other 3D printers is the option to change the deposition head while a process is ongoing. The AM Cube can achieve an excellent result if you need a high deposition volume and good surface finish for a large, complex workpiece.

What you need to know about the AM Cube in three minutes, 27 seconds:

So, the AM Cube means that you can combine 3D printing and coating application? Are other combinations possible?
Yes, since the AM Cube has three deposition heads, you can be completely flexible. It's possible to apply coatings both internally and externally. You can also change the material with each deposition head. In one phase of production, the laser metal deposition is wired-based, while the other phase is powder-based. While this may sound like a simple change, it was extremely challenging to develop. That's why we've applied for a patent for this technology. This means that our customers can be sure that they're getting the AM Cube which offers an original CHIRON Group process.

 Deposition head for internal coating, two other heads are in the park position.
Deposition head for internal coating, two other heads are in the park position.

Laser metal deposition
In laser metal deposition, a laser beam melts a substrate and this substrate is metallurgically bonded to the feedstock material. One of the benefits of this process is that it results in lower thermal loading – it's also excellent for repairing damage, reinforcing components at selected points and restoring the original geometry of components by means of material deposition.

When should you use wire or powder as the deposited material?
Powder is excellent for applying coatings, particularly for thin or graduated layers.  Powder is the only option for internal coatings. On the other hand, some advantages of using wire are that 100% of the feedstock material enters the material structure and the process enables high deposition rates.

You mentioned the fact that the Group's experience in metalworking influenced how the system was developed. Which elements of machining centers can be found in the AM Cube? Is the 3D metal printer really a »genuine CHIRON« product?
The AM Cube is designed using a Cartesian coordinate system, just like a conventional machining center. It is programmed either using a standardized DIN ISO code or, for complex components, using a CAD/CAM software tool from the Siemens NX toolkit. All aspects of the system can be controlled using tried-and-tested Siemens components, from hardware to programming of the AM Cube. The AM Cube is also designed as a platform and can be reconfigured from three-axis machining to four- or five-axis machining with relatively little effort.

One last question, what about production and operator safety?
We have to distinguish between laser safety and occupational safety. To ensure laser safety, the AM Cube is equipped with a state-of-the-art sensor system and meets all the important safety requirements without needing to be constantly manned. If you use powder as the feedstock material, the entire working area is filtered by suction to prevent operators from being exposed to airborne powder particles.

The highlights at a glance


  • Coating

  • Repairs

  • 3D printing


  • Three-axis

  • Four-axis

  • Five-axis

Automatic deposition head changing

  • Wire or powder feedstock material

  • 3D printing or coating

  • Internal and external coating


  • Innovative user interface with TouchLine

  • Well-known Siemens control system components

  • Programming in DIN ISO or CAM

  • Cartesian coordinate system

Want to find out more about the AM Cube and its many talents? Or are you interested in AM Coating, a system for coating brake discs?

Visit the CHIRON Group Website for more details.

Or speak directly to Axel Boi, Head of Additive Manufacturing.

Axel Boi
Tel. +49 7461 940-3871
[email protected]

Perfect automation no matter what!

Lower personnel costs, reduced downtime and lead times, improved process reliability, productivity and quality, as well as greater dynamism and flexibility: While this may sound like squaring the circle, it is actually much easier than that – with the CHIRON Group's automation solutions. For example, the latest combination of the VariocellUno automation unit and the CHIRON DZ 16 W can be used to manufacture high unit quantities. In addition, the VariocellPallet pallet automation can be used with the FZ 16 S five axis machining center to manufacture individual parts over longer machining times.

In 2018, 48% of all of the project machines CHIRON supplied came with automation, while this figure reached 55% in 2019 and will be 75% by the end of 2020. There is a clear trend towards automation, which is continuing to gain momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is because it will only be possible to maintain productivity, while also reducing working hours and staggering work with few operators, by using largely autonomous machines.

For autonomous production, the CHIRON Group provides solutions for a wide range of requirements with perfectly matched complete packages comprising a machining center and automation. The most recent example is the combination of the CHIRON DZ 16 W with the compact VariocellUno automation unit. This means that there is now also a tailored solution for the 16 Series with various options – all from a single source.

»Why add the VariocellUno as a further automation solution for the 16 Series? It's quite simple. As is already the case with other series, we wanted to offer our customers an appropriate standard solution for series production which can be perfectly tailored to the production scenario thanks to the different options.«
Kristoffer Siegmann
Head of Global Account Management Automotive at CHIRON Group

Autonomous unit: DZ 16 W and VariocellUno
VariocellUno has already been used in CHIRON 08, 12 and 15 Series machining centers over 350 times around the world. When used in conjunction with the machine, it brings clear productivity gains. The experts from the automation department, headed by Thomas Marquadt, have now further developed the compact unit, which comprises a handling robot and workpiece store, for the 16 Series.

Visitors to the OPEN HOUSE ONLINE could already observe the new variant on the DZ 16 W. Particularly for plants with a workpiece changer, the VariocellUno provides clear added value with respect to loading and unloading blanks and finished parts during machine operation. In addition, the robot can perform additional tasks during the machine runtime, such as cleaning, labeling, deburring and reading codes. Designed for series production, the VariocellUno automation unit allows users to manufacture a large number of workpieces in very short cycle times. Whether for autonomous production at weekends, for night shifts, with reduced personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic or due to a lack of specialist staff, the automation unit enables high flexibility while consistently producing the best manufacturing quality. Indeed, this not only applies to the 16 Series but also to other CHIRON series and the STAMA MC 531 machining centers.

 The combination of the CHIRON DZ 16 W with the compact VariocellUno automation unit enables maximum productivity thanks to its capacity to manufacture large numbers of workpiece in very short cycle times.
The combination of the CHIRON DZ 16 W with the compact VariocellUno automation unit enables maximum productivity thanks to its capacity to manufacture large numbers of workpiece in very short cycle times.

The workpieces are handled by a six-axis robot on the DZ 16 W. The draw storage, palletizer or workpiece conveyor belt act as a storage medium, depending on the requirements. In addition, components can be added to VariocellUno according to the application. These components include multiple grippers and also stations for turning, measuring, washing and labeling. A large rotating door makes the machine's working area very easy to access. The automation cell can be moved for set-up and maintenance tasks which require direct access from the front.

If a DZ 16 W is already in use, the new VariocellUno can be added without any difficulty. It is also possible to implement the VariocellUno on 15 and 18 Series machining centers – whatever approach is taken, customers are ably supported by the CHIRON Group's automation experts.

VariocellUno: Many advantages in one compact unit

  • High degree of utilization for increased profitability

  • Attractive value for money

  • Replacement of blanks and finished-part pallets during machine operation

  • Machining center and automation from a single source

  • Storage medium depending on the requirements

  • Easy to operate and program

  • Best access to the working area for cleaning and maintenance tasks

Greater flexibility and dynamism: FZ/DZ 16 with VariocellPallet
The CHIRON Group already showcased the first pallet automation in its range at OPEN HOUSE 2019. This innovative solution gives the 16 Series single-spindle machines greater dynamism and flexibility when machining small batch sizes and complex workpieces, as well as when manufacturing individual parts with long machining times.

Various blanks are clamped on a rotary indexing table with up to ten prefabricated pallets. The handling system supplies the machining center with blank after blank and removes the workpieces together with the pallet following the successful machining process. This significantly increases productivity. Another advantage is that while one pallet is being machined, a second can be loaded at the same time.

 With its combination of the CHIRON FZ 16 S five axis and the VariocellPallet automation solution, small batch sizes and complex workpieces can be machined autonomously and with high flexibility.
With its combination of the CHIRON FZ 16 S five axis and the VariocellPallet automation solution, small batch sizes and complex workpieces can be machined autonomously and with high flexibility.

The motorized transfer trolley with rollers is a major advantage with respect to having easy access to the VariocellPallet, even in confined spaces. The trolley can be moved in three directions without rail systems and, if required, can also be manually loaded and unloaded.

As unique as your manufacturing tasks: VariocellSystem
As an alternative to VariocellUno and VariocellPallet, the 16 Series machines – as is the case with all CHIRON and STAMA series – can be fully automated and customized with the relevant modules. The VariocellSystem is the perfect fit for all specific requirements – whether for handling systems, gantry or articulated arm loaders, workpiece stores for blanks and finished parts, pallet stores, feeding or discharging equipment or peripheral units for cleaning, identification, testing or measuring.

»We know our machining center interfaces better than anyone and can get the most out of our customized automation systems' dynamic advantages for our customers. We make every robot automation system ourselves – and we're very proud of this. «
Thomas Marquardt
Head of Automation at CHIRON Group

1,200 millimeters: More clearance than ever before!

We have found that having clearance is a good thing and the more, the better. This is also true for high-productive complete machining of large volume, demanding structural components in the automotive industry. Last year, the CHIRON 25 Series set a new standard in this area with a spindle clearance of 800 mm. This standard has now been extended to a larger size: With the new DZ 28 and its spindle clearance of 1,200 mm.

read time: 13 min read this article on one page

The shift in manufacturing processes is placing higher demands on production technology, for example with complex hybrid drives, lightweight construction of vehicular and structural components, battery trays and more efficient combustion engines.

Machining processes must be as dynamic as they are precise and it must be possible to configure the machining centers flexibly in line with specifications. All the better if the entire process is easily accessible and easy to see. Or you could simply opt for the DZ 28.

The right model for every application
The new series is available in two machine variants, the DZ 28 P five axis – P for pallet changer – for high quantities and short cycle times, or the DZ 28 S five axis – for direct loading. The new series will be available to order from 2021.

»With the 28 Series, we are addressing new customers and workpieces. Whereas previously, components of this size could only be used for single-spindle manufacturing, the new DZ 28 twin-spindle machines have considerably shorter cycle times – while also producing the best part quality.«
Kristoffer Siegmann
Head of Global Account Management Automotive at CHIRON Group

Grand in all respects, except for its launch.
Kristoffer Siegmann is satisfied with initial feedback from the market. »We got a very encouraging response from our customers. Completing our range is exactly the right way for us to go. The market wants to see machines which effortlessly manage extremely high quality requirements – like thin-walled components as well as high form and positional tolerances.«

Facts and figures

X-Y-Z travel distances Max. 1,200–1,100–800 mm
X-Y-Z rapid traverse speeds Max. 120–75–75 m/min
Spindle clearance 1,200 mm
Tool holder HSK-A63
Workpiece diameter 1,200 mm
Workpiece height Up to 750 mm
Palette size (for P variant) 800 x 800 mm

With a spindle clearance of 1,200 mm, the new DZ 28 is predestined for five-axis machining, for example for integral supports, longitudinal supports, large suspension holders, battery cases for hybrid vehicles and housings for power electronics.

The operating and loading sides are separated. The working area is always easily accessible and the process easy to see.

 Loading and unloading side of the DZ 28 S five-axis
Loading and unloading side of the DZ 28 S five-axis
 Operating side of the DZ 28 S five-axis
Operating side of the DZ 28 S five-axis

Other major advantages include the flexible machine layout with a small footprint, high dynamics, spindles which can be moved fully independently on the Z and X axes and its automation via robots or gantry. The machining center is operated using TouchLine, the established operating system from the SmartLine range. The machine condition can be monitored at all times on the large panel.

A tried-and-tested machine concept in a new size
A platform in a portal design forms the basis of the machine concept with a small footprint from 30 m2. The rigid machine bed and active component cooling enable the required degree of precision on the workpiece. High axis acceleration and fast rapid traverses ensure dynamic machining as never before seen with workpiece dimensions of this size. The machine concept is also very flexible. Whether machining complex workpieces with many tools or workpiece families – the two magazines offer space for up to 60 tools and therefore mean minimum set-up for manufacturing. Workpieces are loaded and unloaded during machine operation.

Unlock the full potential: With SmartLine
As with all of the CHIRON Group's new series, the 28 Series is prepared for integration of all SmartLine modules. For example, this includes ProtectLinefor preventive protection against machine crashes and ConditionLine for automatic condition monitoring of relevant machine components.

Want to find out more the new size for precise and dynamic machining? Kristoffer Siegmann, Head of Global Account Management Automotive, would be happy to answer any calls or e-mails.

Kristoffer Siegmann
Phone: +49 (0) 7461 940 3074
[email protected]

E-mobility: Technology with a history?
It is not just in recent times that the e-mobility sector has been booming. Around 1900, there were 34,000 electrically powered vehicles on the roads of the USA. Read on to find out more about how this sector has since developed in a brief history of e-mobility.

Brief history of e-mobility

You would do well to remember Michael Faraday when you are driving your car through a storm – his electric cage means that you are protected against any lightning strikes. Faraday was a natural scientist and in 1821 he proved how electromagnetism could be used to generate continuous rotation, the starting point of e-mobility.

Scottish inventor Robert Anderson created a form of electrical carts, which was followed by his invention of an electric vehicle in 1839. Robert Davis, another Scotsman, was the first to invent an electrically powered vehicle for rail tracks.

American Charles Grafton Page came up with the idea of creating an electrically powered locomotive. This vehicle reached speeds of 31 kilometers per hour on a test run.

The invention of a chargeable lead-acid battery marked an important step in e-mobility, and it would go into production the very next year.

Camille Faure improved the lead-acid battery, coating the lead plates with a mixture of lead sulphates. This greatly increased the battery's capacity. Faure's battery is the reason why Paris is known as the »City of Light«, as it had the first street to be lit by electric lighting.

The Ayrton and Perry electric tricycle caused a great stir on London's Victoria Street. The joint invention by William Edward Ayrton and John Perry had a fully electric drive and could travel up to 40 kilometers at up to 14 km/h on a single battery charge.

The first electric car, the Flocken Elektrowagen, was manufactured in Germany. Visually, the model with its cabin looks more like a carriage.

At the world exhibition in Paris, Ferdinand Porsche entered the public spotlight with an electric car he had designed while under the employment of Jacob Lohner at the Lohner-Werke firm. The "Lohner-Porsche" had front-wheel hub-mounted motors. He also gave a lot of thought to what would potentially be the car's small range. This is why he included a mixed-use electric and combustion engine.

Approximately 34,000 electrically powered cars were on American roads, some of which had impressive ranges of 100 kilometers or more.

Between 1896 and 1939, there were 565 manufacturers of electric vehicles around the world. In Germany, this included brands such as Siemens, Hercules, Kühlstein and the Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach.

»Within a year, I hope, we shall begin the manufacture of an electric automobile,« said Henry Ford in an interview with the New York Times in January 1914.

Following a long break, Ford showcased a pure all-electric prototype in the form of the »Ford Comuta« microcar. The model had 12 V batteries, a range of approximately 60 km and a top speed of 55 km/h.

In the United States and, particularly the United Kingdom, milk bottles were delivered to customers' front doors each day by electrically powered milk floats.

The oil crisis brought about a real change in thinking. There was an increasing awareness of environmental issues and alternative drives came back to the fore. In addition, the Californian government passed an act to encourage the automotive industry to innovate and to switch its car production to emission-free vehicles.

The Horlacher Sport I concept vehicle traveled a record distance of 547 kilometers on a single battery charge.

VW constructed the Citystromer, a variant of the VW Golf II and III converted into an electric vehicle.

An example of particularly innovative work is the Hotzenblitz model, manufactured between 1993 and 1996 in the city of Suhl in the central German state of Thuringia. The two-person vehicle was developed in the south-western German region of Hotzenwald and, at the time, was the most consistent electric car in Germany.

Tesla showcased its Roadster at the Santa Monica Airport in California. Small series production would begin in March 2008. By 2012, approximately 2450 models of the two-seater sports car had been manufactured and sold all around the world.

Nissan released the »Leaf«, the first large series electric car designed exclusively for this type of drive. With its various models and cumulative sales of 450,000 units (as of January 2020), the Nissan Leaf is the world's bestselling electric vehicle.

Germany celebrated 125 years of e-mobility production and BMW presented the BMW i3, a plug-in hybrid in the small car class and the first production vehicle with a passenger module made from carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP).

Volkswagen brought the ID.3, the first model in the ID family, onto the market. The modular electric drive kit (MEB) would also be used by Audi, Skoda and Seat.

HSK-A 100: Lift off towards maximum efficiency

The demanding machining applications in the aviation industry, where components are machined from a solid block, require machining centers which combine optimum milling performance with maximum precision. This is where the new FZ 16 S five axis by CHIRON with HSK-A 100 interface comes in.

To efficiently manufacture demanding components, such as turbine workpieces or titanium structural components, this requires a fast, very precise and extremely dynamic machining center. This is because these special workpieces for the aviation industry have to be perfect in all respects, particularly for engine and turbine construction. With the FZ 16 S five axis, CHIRON offers a machining center which is designed precisely for this purpose.

HSK-A 100: Improved power, even better quality
The CHIRON FZ 16 S five axis is now also available with the HSK-A 100 interface for a high milling performance when rough-machining and maximum precision when finishing. With a powerful main spindle with a torque of 400 Nm, the new machine variant is predestined for machining difficult structural components made from high temperature-resistant materials, such as titanium or nickel-based alloys.

Together with the moving gantry design, which ensures high static and dynamic rigidity, the HSK-A 100 interface provides the foundation for particularly high machining rates and also allows users to machine very deep cavities. While the powerful drives of the FZ 16 S five axis provide the required dynamics, the robust basic design and high thermal stability ensure maximum precision.

Facts and figures

  • Spindle speed: 10,000/30,000* rpm 

  • Spindle torque: Up to 400 Nm

  • Spindle power: Up to 80* kW

  • Number of tools: Max. 52 pieces

  • Tool holder: HSK-A 100

*Alternative to machining aluminum

Markus Löhe, Aerospace Sales Engineer at CHIRON, presents the new variant in this videoand would be happy to answer any calls or e-mails.

Markus Löhe
 Phone: +49 7461 940-3885
[email protected]