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3D Printing Quality Test: How Sauber Technologies AG Benefits From a Vibrophore 100

In motorsports, Formula 1 is generally regarded as the premier class: next to the quality of the driver, technology and materials also determine success on the track. To test the latter, as well as offer customers in other industries and with different applications the highest level of quality—Sauber Technologies AG uses a ZwickRoell Vibrophore 100 in the area of additive manufacturing and light weight construction. This machine provides support within the scope of material development with tests on 3D printed components—not only for Formula 1 race cars. But always with one common goal: to maintain pole position.

The Sauber Group with headquarters in Hinwil, Switzerland, specializes in the development and production of race cars and high-performance vehicle components. Founded in 1970, the company was initially entirely devoted to motorsports. Since 2015, one division of the Sauber Group has been focusing on developing technologies and solutions for different industries under the Sauber Technologies brand. These include the automotive Industry, aerospace, energy and medical engineering, and in addition offers engineering and consulting services. Sauber Technologies is also an important supplier of components for different industry sectors.
“Quality and fatigue strength monitoring are essential criteria when it comes to serious additive manufacturing at its highest level. With the Vibrophore 100 from ZwickRoell, we are in a position to offer our customers this unique added value,” states Mario Näscher, Deputy Head of Engineering at Sauber Technologies AG.

Determining the effects of hot isostatic pressing (HIP process)

The determination of material properties of specimens in terms of durability and fatigue strength along with traceable documentation of the results present the main challenges in the Sauber Technologies AG testing lab. “For material development and quality testing in 3D printing, the process parameters in the downstream HIP process play an important role for us: HIP stands for hot isostatic pressing and is used in the context of 3D printing as a method for post-processing printed parts. For example, in 3D printed parts can be porous or have microscopic cracks, which can sometimes affect their strength and durability. The HIP process can eliminate these defects by exposing the printed part to high pressure and high temperatures. The process starts by placing the printed part in a special chamber filled with a gaseous pressurized medium such as argon or nitrogen. The chamber is then heated up to a very high temperature and increased to a very high pressure. This combination of pressure and heat evenly compresses the material of the printed part, sealing porous areas and cracks. With the HIP process, printed parts can reach a higher density and strength, which makes them appealing for use in challenging applications in the aerospace, medical and automotive industry.

The solution: Sauber Technologies AG tests with the Vibrophore 100

Sauber Technologies AG runs tests on a Vibrophore 100 (Fmax +/- 100 kN) from ZwickRoell. The machine combines the properties of an electromagnetic dynamic testing machine and a static testing machine. It is used to perform tests including high cycle fatigue tests, for example, to DIN 50100 in tensile, compression, pulsating and alternating load ranges. All tests can be run with force, travel and strain rate control. “In addition to their great support throughout the selection process and excellent machine operation, we chose ZwickRoell because of their intuitive and comprehensive testXpert testing software. The clear user interface makes it easy to maintain an overview of the test parameters and detect errors, providing a constant basis for reliable testing. The Vibrophore 100 is also extremely flexible when it comes to our changing specimens and can be easily expanded according to test requirements. A machine that meets our needs and the latest technological developments,” says Näscher.

The improvements: more flexibility and cost savings

What are some significant improvements that resulted from implementing the ZwickRoell testing machine? The Vibrophore provides Sauber Technologies AG with much more flexibility in quality assurance because they can now run dynamic tests in their own lab, and the test results can be reported back to the production process much faster. In addition, the test results and conclusions about the fatigue behavior can be determined directly. With the vibrophore, the company can reach test frequencies of up to 285 Hz, allowing them to simulate individualized test scenarios in accordance with various requirements. Näscher: “Thanks to the Vibrophore 100, we are in an excellent position to ensure that our products are always at the market forefront.”

Images: Copyright Sauber Technologies AG