Rosswag Engineering – Forging Ahead
Head of Engineering Gregor Graf talks about how Rosswag has developed as a company, looking at both its traditions and its ambitions to revolutionise additive manufacturing.
Rosswag was founded in 1911 and is a fifth-generation engineering company. While the company has a proud tradition and remains family-owned to this day, it is also looking to the future. “We have developed into a holistic service provider. We supply tools, parts, engineering, simulation, and we can also provide our own metal powders and digital software solutions” explains Head of Engineering Gregor Graf.
There are two parts to the business, with Edelstahl Rosswag handling the more traditional and demanding manufacturing projects and Rosswag Engineering more involved on the development side in the field of additive manufacturing. The company operates an open-die forging facility for parts weighing up to 4.5 t and, ring rolling that can provide rings of up to 3.5m. After heat treatment, the highly stressable parts for all kinds of industrial use cases are finished on more than 30 CNC turning machines and milling machines. In 2014, Rosswag Engineering was established as the innovation side of the business, to rely on the know-how and expand the service portfolio with metal additive manufacturing (more commonly referred to as “metal 3D printing”). The new machinery can provide tool-free and near net shapes, functional integration, and limitless complexity. As Graf quips, “Essentially it started with the general management buying a €500,000 additive manufacturing system and saying ‘let’s start a new business from this’!”
Graf has a key part to play in overseeing the progress of Rosswag, pushing innovation forward and maintaining the high standards that the company sets.
“There are multiple expectations for my role here. This includes a research-intensive business strategy for innovation, setting standards as well as keeping the expensive production systems running every day for our customers’ needs. The biggest advantage to handle all these topics is certainly my highly motivated team consisting of 15 people that joined me and my vision over the past years “he states.
Providing the tools
Rosswag has over 400 metal materials and 7,000t of raw stock available. While the company had the materials and processes to provide additive manufacturing, an initial challenge was convincing their new and existing clients of the benefits that their new technology had to offer. Rosswag was able to overcome this by using their problem-solving skills, demonstrating their abilities by significantly improving the efficiency of the components they designed. “In one project we managed to integrate more than 10 parts of an assembly into one component. We have also improved cutting tools with internal cooling channels so that the tool life can be increased by more than 20 per cent without any extra costs” Graf explains.
The additive manufacturing process incorporates technology consultation, process and material qualification and part optimisation. One benefit for clients is that they can start in cooperation with Rosswag as efficient as possible with low financial risks, something that can be useful for businesses before going all-in with innovative parts in serial production.
More than 60,000 parts from over 40 qualified materials were already manufactured. The exclusive metal materials that Rosswag qualified have various beneficial properties for different uses. For example, some of the company’s clients have benefited from high strength and wear-resistant steels, nickel superalloys with high tensile strength while their non-magnetic stainless steel is used for applications such as producing semiconductors for various industries.
Looking to the future
As an employer, Rosswag is highly in demand. “We are in a good area and we often incorporate local students into our research team. If anything, rather than looking for more employees we are currently looking for more space to accommodate them” Graf states.
The company is currently involved in 16 funded research projects, with 45 students already involved in their research since 2014 for internships or working on their thesis.
While the company wants to work with the engineers of the future, they are also considering the development of engineering in a wider context. It is not just about their business, although being able to operate efficiently is important.
There is a desire to contribute, looking at issues such as dealing with waste and inefficiency in the additive manufacturing process.
“We are currently working on our AddiMap platform that will be open and beneficial to all businesses in the additive marketing industry.
By sharing and trading data, we will be able to reduce inefficiencies in the industry and create new applications and scalable business models across the market” he states.
This platform, created as a means of giving more access to data relating to additive manufacturing processes, is something that Graf feels could revolutionise the metal 3D printing industry. This data includes process parameters, material data or the qualification results of well-known or new materials that could be used in additive manufacturing.
The idea is that by using this platform, any business interested in 3D printing will have access to this information that can then be used in the design and production of new functional optimised metal 3D-printed parts. All that out of any qualified material, first time right and with the highest efficiency.
This does not solely apply to companies in Germany, with all the information on the platform available to anyone around the world at any time.
This means that anyone can contribute, establish new business models, and help to improve the process behind additive manufacturing even further. That is something that the whole industry could benefit from accelerated market growth.
Rosswag as a company has two sides. One side is about tradition, working in one of the oldest forms of metalworking, forging highly stressable parts for industrial use. While the forging process may be more automated and the forging process is done from more of a distance, there is still that connection to the handcrafted work that began five generations ago and the company is keen to emphasise the passion behind their process and the drive that comes from being a family-owned business.
While the traditional and family parts are important, this is not the same as being old-fashioned. On the other side of the business is the innovation aspect.
There are different parts to this innovation, including the use of digital technology and continuing to push further with research and development. With the addition of the AddiMap platform, there is also an admirable drive to democratise the metal 3D-printing process and give more people access to the means that will allow the manufacturing industry to move forward with more functional optimised applications. On many levels, Rosswag is forging ahead.