Products Applications Technology Downloads Company
Contact News

Additive Manufacturing and Machine Tools

Is it possible to strike a Euro coin at a distance of a hundred metres? It is not only possible but must absolutely be achievable if high value machine tools are to be manufactured. Harmonic Drive SE products are used in particular at sites where space is limited. The layout in such cases is not defined by torque but rather by rigidity or by hollow shaft diameter.

Prime discipline of mechanical engineering

If we were to pick one prime discipline of German mechanical engineering, the machine tool industry would definitely be a favourite. Thanks to the contribution it has made to innovation and advancements in productivity throughout industry as a whole, it is of great economic importance, and of course, it can look back at a long tradition. Additive manufacturing is continuing this tradition. Shapes and structures formerly thought of as impossible to attain can now be produced by additive means.

Precision, performance and flexibility

Today, machine tools are defined more and more as mechanised and increasingly automated production apparatus. They include lathes and milling machines, eroding machines and mechanical presses, while the trend towards the automation and interconnection of intelligent systems is evidence of the technical advancements and other endeavours that are going on within the industry. At the same time, the demands placed on mechanical components in terms of their precision, performance and flexibility are rising. Additive manufacturing systems require precise repeat precision. Besides the laser technology, the Z axis plays an important role in the process of selective laser-melting, for it is here that the build platform is lowered to enable the gradual, layer-by-layer formation of a three-dimensional shape. These layers have to be built up with a high degree of uniformity over the entire build space, in order to prevent dimensional fluctuations and component deformations.

Actuator unit comprising motor and gears

The primary drive unit in an additive manufacturing machine comprises the motor, gears and ball screw, and it is this unit that ensures precise positioning of the build platform; it is an important factor when it comes to ensuring production precision and workpiece quality. Thanks to the use of variable motor feedback systems, such drives can be integrated into existing control concepts. The precise threaded spindle is used in combination with a high gear reduction to ensure minimal travel distances.

For precision: Harmonic Drive® gears and actuators

The above characteristics are demonstrated by Harmonic Drive® hollow shaft actuators in the CanisDrive® series. They feature a very good transmission ratio and very high precision in raising and lowering the build platform, which is of decisive importance when it comes to ensuring the quality of the components. This compact servo drive is specially developed for use in rotational axes in high-precision machine tools. With a high-precision spindle, it has now been further developed into a linear actuator. Perfect for coping with the demands of additive manufacturing.

Our clients


Highest power density and lifetime precision

A large hollow shaft, low weight, small volume and the combination of outstanding torque density, service life and reliability were the requirements when developing the new CanisDrive® series.