In several recent articles and our Fluid Power Handbook, we discussed the growing use of 3D printing in fluid power, particularly for use in valves and manifolds. Recently, we learned about Moog’s additive manufacturing capabilities. The company has its own additive manufacturing centers, with 12 LPB metal machines. Moog also specializes in non-metal (AM) printing with close to 10 machines that are capable of a range of plastic materials. For the last 10 years, Moog has been designing, producing, inspecting and providing post processing through its R&D center, a metrology and material analysis lab and stress reliefheat treat ovens.
“Many customers are looking for ways to use technology such as additive manufacturing (3D printing) to solve motion control challenges in a new way. Moog has leveraged the potential of metal additive manufacturing to produce hydraulic manifolds with flow paths that would not be possible with traditional manufacturing methods. Enabling these additively manufactured designs has resulted in hardware with significant weight reduction, smaller envelope size, and increased flow characteristics,” said Jay Sollecito, Additive Manufacturing Center Process Manager.
“Another attractive benefit of additively manufactured designs is the potential for parts consolidation, where multiple features
and components of an existing assembly can be integrated into a one-piece design. This not only allows manifolds to fit in
design-constrained envelopes but also reduces the lead time and manufacturing costs associated with more complex assemblies,” Sollecito said.
Moog’s Bill Massaro, Director of Advanced Manufacturing, Space and Defense Group, recently chatted with Fluid Power World to share his thoughts on what Moog is doing with 3D printing and hydraulics. Read on to learn more.
Fluid Power World: Tell us about the history of Moog’s Additive Manufacturing Center. How did it get started and why?
Massaro: Moog has been actively working with metal additive manufacturing since 2013 when we established our first R&D center. The new AMC<https://www.moog.com/3dmetal/index.html> was opened in Feb of 2018 when we made the decision to combine our Livonia additive operations with our East Aurora operations. We combined these two additive facilities in East Aurora because we wanted to have a world-class AM center collocated with our largest engineering community at Moog Inc. to increase the speed of innovation using the this technology.
Fluid Power World: How much focus there is on fluid power/hydraulics at the AMC?
Massaro: Considering Moog’s product portfolio has a significant amount of hydraulic solutions, additive is being applied to those products. Moog believes AM offers many advantages over conventional manufacturing methods for hydraulic applications. For example with AM we can reduce packaging size, which creates an advantage for weight savings.
Fluid Power World: What types of components are best suited to 3D printing for hydraulics?
Massaro: Metal additive manufacturing is best applied to applications where we can gain cost and lead time advantages. We can realize these savings by consolidating assemblies by growing a single part where conventional manufactured parts would need to be welded together. AM can also provide technical advantages by solving for thermal issues as well. With AM we can sometimes generate features that will either dissipate heat or isolate heat better.
Fluid Power World: How do you deal with issues like tolerance, etc. when it comes to hydraulics components?
Massaro: Often hydraulic components require precision fits or surface finish that laser powder bed fusion cannot meet. We solve for this by machining those surfaces after the part is grown. Generally we try to minimize the need for post machining as much as possible because it adds lead time and cost. If you are smart in your designs then often machining can be avoided and only used for sealing surfaces.
Fluid Power World: Do you see this as a growing way to manufacture hydraulic components?
Massaro: Yes we do see metal AM as a growing method of manufacturing hydraulic components. Moog has spent a lot of time refining our process to produce repeatable dense materials that can withstand high-pressure applications. We are betting that AM is going to give us advantages in lead time, weight savings, thermal solutions and cost for hydraulic components.
Fluid Power World: How can additive manufacturing change the fluid power industry?
Massoro: For aerospace applications, AM provides significant opportunities for weight savings. We have seen the ability to reduce weight between 10-50%, which is a great value to our customers in their applications. We are also seeing the potential for AM to provide faster development cycles. We can grow parts faster than conventional manufacturing methods and this requires little or no tooling.
Fluid Power World: Do you have any cool or fun applications you can share where a Moog 3D printed hydraulic component was used?
Massaro: Moog developed the Integrated Smart Actuator (ISA) for the HyqReal robot in a partnership with the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT). The ISA is good example of a pathfinder project that leverages the advantages of AM. Additive manufacturing provided a simpler manufacturing process to allow for the fast creation of the multiple iterations we needed to develop to solve for a smaller packaging size and reduced weight requirements. Because AM doesn’t need new tooling for each version during development we were able to manufacture each design quickly to be tested.