Vicenza, Italy —Steel, stainless-steel, and aluminum parts can now be made directly from 3D CAD models. Next Factory's dieless forming system substitutes proprietary software and the latest generation numeric control for conventional dies and die presses. Intended for production capacities of one to 500 pieces per month, the fully automated system permits the production of complex parts in just a few minutes.
Each part requires a dedicated fixed tool over which the sheet metal blank is positioned. Constructed from resin, cast iron, or a combination of both, the fixed tool represents the formed part's negative shape.
A bull-nose shaped moving tool, guided by 3-axis numeric control, carries out the sheet forming. Following a path of concentric trajectories, the moving tool systematically pushes the blank against the fixed tool until the sheet metal conforms to the fixed tool contours. The formed part is then lifted from the tool and the procedure begins anew.
Good for automotive parts, household appliances, and medical equipment, the dieless forming system offers:
substantial reductions in the costs of equipment and dies,
reductions in the stock of equipment and dies,
capacity to produce a great variety of spare parts with just one machine, and the
execution of prototypes quickly and cheaply.
Five machine sizes are presently available, accepting sheet metal blanks as large as 2,100×1,450 mm. Stainless steel as thick as 2 mm can be formed, as well as 4-mm aluminum. The company is presently testing titanium and other aerospace materials.