Metal 3D Printers

Hy­draulic valve block for High-Per­for­mance

3D-print­ing of light-weight com­po­nents

Ad­di­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing for heavy-duty ap­pli­ca­tions


VTT Tech­ni­cal Re­search Cen­tre of Fin­land Ltd. is the largest mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary re­search or­gan­i­sa­tion in North­ern Eu­rope. It pro­vides high-end tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tions and in­no­va­tion ser­vices. VTT is a non-profit re­search or­gan­i­sa­tion. VTT was founded in 1942 for sci­en­tific and pub­lic util­ity. VTT has its head­quar­ters in Otaniemi. VTT is orig­i­nally an ab­bre­vi­a­tion of Finnish words „Val­tion Teknilli­nen Tutkimuskeskus“ (State Tech­ni­cal Re­search Cen­ter).

VTT of­fers R&D ser­vices to a num­ber of in­dus­try sec­tors using these tech­nolo­gies. Through its in­ter­na­tional sci­en­tific and tech­nol­ogy net­work, VTT aims to pro­duce in­for­ma­tion, up­grade tech­nol­ogy knowl­edge, cre­ate busi­ness in­tel­li­gence and value added to its stake­hold­ers. VTT has 2,834 em­ploy­ees, of which 81% have a uni­ver­sity de­gree and 26% a post­grad­u­ate de­gree. There are 1,510 cus­tomers, of which 865 are do­mes­tic com­pa­nies, 385 for­eign com­pa­nies and 220 pub­lic bod­ies. VTT has a patent port­fo­lio of over 1,200 patents and 605 peer-re­viewed sci­en­tific ar­ti­cles.

3d print­ing of high-per­for­mance, cost-ef­fec­tive, light-weight com­po­nents

Ad­di­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing (AM) is open­ing up new busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties by free­ing de­sign from the re­stric­tions of tra­di­tional man­u­fac­tur­ing processes, en­abling cus­tomiza­tion, and speed­ing up prod­uct time-to-mar­ket. To­gether, VTT Tech­ni­cal Re­search Cen­tre of Fin­land Ltd and Nurmi Cylin­ders Oy have de­vel­oped a cost-ef­fi­cient, 3D-printed, re­li­able hy­draulic valve block that is 66% lighter than the orig­i­nal part.

3D print­ing, also called ad­di­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing or AM tech­nol­ogy, en­ables the pro­duc­tion of ob­jects of nearly any shape with­out the lim­i­ta­tions as­so­ci­ated with tra­di­tional man­u­fac­tur­ing meth­ods. Com­bined with ad­vanced de­sign and op­ti­mizated tech­niques, the po­ten­tial cost-sav­ings of AM ex­tends to the de­sign phase where sim­u­la­tion can re­duce the num­ber of nec­es­sary de­sign it­er­a­tions. This tech­nol­ogy also en­ables small, one-off pro­duc­tion runs, which re­move the ad­di­tional costs typ­i­cally as­so­ci­ated with cus­tomiza­tion.

A new hy­draulic valve block has been de­vel­oped by VTT and Nurmi Cylin­ders, with a de­sign that has been op­ti­mized to take full ad­van­tage of the ben­e­fits of 3D print­ing. The re­sult is a prod­uct that is 66% smaller than the orig­i­nal model de­sign space and 76% re­duc­tion com­pared with a tra­di­tion­ally man­u­fac­tured valve block – lead­ing to sav­ings in weight, space and ma­te­r­ial. The valve block, which is used to con­trol hy­draulic cylin­ders that move under loads ap­plied via the hy­draulic fluid, can be found in cranes for ex­am­ple. Tra­di­tion­ally, the in­ter­nal chan­nels of the valve block are cre­ated with straight, cir­cu­lar drillings in a solid block of ma­te­r­ial. Ad­di­tion­ally, sev­eral aux­il­iary drillings are needed, which are plugged and cre­ate the po­ten­tial for leak­ages. With AM, the in­ter­nal chan­nels of the valve block can be op­ti­mized to a bet­ter flow and space sav­ings, while the po­ten­tial for leak­age is re­moved be­cause aux­il­iary drillings are no longer nec­es­sary.

“Using a laser for metal 3D print­ing is fairly new in Fin­land. Metal pow­der is spread one layer at a time and laser-melted at the de­sired areas. Unique, new ma­te­ri­als are under de­vel­op­ment which will lead to new fea­tures and de­signs not yet com­mer­cially avail­able. We have analysed the man­u­fac­tur­ing costs and iden­ti­fied cost sav­ings. In the fu­ture, this tech­nique will give free hands for a de­signer, be­cause man­u­fac­tur­ing is not lim­it­ing geome­tries any­more,“ says Se­nior Sci­en­tist Petri Laakso of VTT.

To­gether with the pri­vate sec­tor, VTT en­gaged in a two-year pro­ject in No­vem­ber 2014 aim­ing to cre­ate new busi­ness within Fin­land with the use of AM tech­nol­ogy. The over­all pro­ject con­sists of the com­pa­nies‘ own pro­jects and a re­search pro­ject by VTT, in which the com­pa­nies are also par­tic­i­pat­ing. Tekes, the par­tic­i­pat­ing com­pa­nies and VTT are pro­vid­ing the bud­geted fund­ing of three mil­lion euros. The pro­ject is part of VTT‘s For In­dus­try spear­head pro­gramme and its SME pro­ject star­tups.

Hy­draulic valve block for high-per­for­mance

  • New po­ten­tial from metal based ad­di­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nol­ogy
  • Hy­draulic Valve block is build up in one process by SLM sys­tems
  • 66% smaller than the orig­i­nal de­sign
  • Sav­ings in weight, space and ma­te­r­ial
  • Po­ten­tial for leak­age is re­moved be­cause in­no­v­a­tive de­sign is used