The company toolcraft from Georgensgmünd in Middle Franconia in Germany manufactures high-end precision parts, components and assemblies for different high-tech industries. Here, the family company considers itself as a pioneer for new, innovative production technologies such as additive manufacturing and customised turnkey robot solutions. Together with partners from industry as well as research institutes and universities, toolcraft aims to develop complete solutions that are pioneering in their field. A crucial area is the aviation and aerospace industry, for which the company regularly undergoes certification processes. Challenges In order to be allowed to manufacture components for the aviation and aerospace industry, the entire production environment of manufacturing companies has to undergo comprehensive certification. At the centre of this is Nadcap (National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program), a unique association of companies from the aviation and aerospace industry. Together, they aim to ensure a uniformly high level of quality within the sector and to implement special production processes in as cost efficient a manner as possible. toolcraft was one of the first European companies that decided to go through the difficult Nadcap certification for 3D printing with metals, in order to give themselves a competitive edge against their competitors in the industry. Successful certification involves documenting and ensuring transparency over the numerous process steps which take place before, during and after the LMF process with the 3D printer. Complete verification of the powder used is just as much part of this process as inspecting the component quality through optical and tactile measurement and non-destructive surface testing. Special attention is also paid to the LMF process. In addition to monitoring of oxygen levels and air humidity in the process chamber, it must, for example, be verifiable that the laser power and shape of the laser beam within the TruPrint 3000 3D printer used are coordinated in such a way that every part produced in it is exposed in precisely the same way.
3D printing meets the aviation and aerospace industry: Nadcap certification
"From the start of the certification process, TRUMPF enthusiastically supported us in finding solutions for the Nadcap question catalogue. I believe that the zero errors found during the audit say everything there is to say about our successful partnership."
Preparation is key – especially when it comes to the Nadcap certification. TRUMPF proactively supported toolcraft before the audit "with ideas, solutions and suggestions", in order to furnish the quality assurance proof throughout the entire process – before, during and after the build job. For this, TRUMPF employees examined the Nadcap question catalogue intensively, and developed testing procedures such as the path precision analysis or laser power measurement. The actual machine is of course part of the audit. Here toolcraft was able to completely rely on TRUMPF as the laser and mechanical engineering specialist. As a result of their extensive expertise and decades of experience in laser technology, TRUMPF also guarantees the utmost quality and process stability for the actual beam source and all of its individual components.
toolcraft has, amongst other things, its own laboratory with extensive equipment to verify the quality of the powder and components. Oxygen and nitrogen in the powder or the solid welded body can be analysed, for example. Powder management is a central element for Nadcap. The company also uses its own tensile testing facility and has installed fatigue strength facilities. Another factor to the success of the certification was TRUMPF's overall concept. Here, the maintenance and upkeep of the machines by TRUMPF's Technical Service department is just as important as the intelligent monitoring solutions which analyse and monitor the LMF process in a professional manner. The exchangeable cylinder principle of the TruPrint machines also enables a smooth flow of parts. In the newly built halls that are perfectly equipped for additive manufacturing, for each material, toolcraft manufactures on a specific machine, and uses a separate room for the powder and parts handling with unpacking – including a sieving station. The comprehensive preparations paid off: toolcraft passed the Nadcap certification – with zero errors.
toolcraft is now part of a select circle of companies that are the first to be able to produce 3D printed parts to the highest standards. When dealing with customers in the industry, Nadcap is a clear competitive advantage for toolcraft compared to other potential suppliers. Both TRUMPF and toolcraft learnt a great deal during the close, partner-based collaboration for the verification process, meaning they are both perfectly equipped for the next challenge.