2 minutes with...
HAGE Sondermaschinenbau GmbH & Co KG – at the heart of the idyllic Styrian region, the automation specialists have been developing and manufacturing high-tech machinery for more than thirty years. The second-generation brothers Stefan and Florian Hampel manage the family business, which employs a staff of around 100 people. HAGE develops custom machines that not only meet, but also exceed their customers’ expectations. The high-tech company covers the entire value chain in the special-purpose machinery building industry, extending from conceptual designs to turnkey equipment and after-sales service. Regardless of whether input and visions come from the market, from customers, or from team members, HAGE always considers every idea, analyzes its potential, and invests to make it a reality. The results are novel solutions for our customers, like the HAGE 3D printer.
We spoke with Stefan Hampel is Executive Management Partner of HAGE:
How did you come to hear about the project REProMag? What convinced you to get involved?
HAGE has a close partnership with Montanuniversität Leoben; they informed us about a new EU funded project dealing with additive manufacturing (AM) of magnets. It aroused our interest as we already knew about Material Extrusion (ME) with thermoplastics but not with metal material. ME of metal parts is an innovative and difficult process as the metal needs to be melting while still having a certain consistence to become a filament. We thus wanted to get involved in the prospects and technical challenges of printing metals and magnets. Also, we saw promises of success in the sound mixture of organisations and backgrounds in the consortium.
Could you describe HAGE’s role in the project?
HAGE is a worldwide known developer and producer of special purpose machinery especially for the automotive, railway, construction and space industry and it is our daily business to deal with new requirements. In 2012 we started with the development of 3D printing machines in the field of ME for industrial use. Within the project we developed, designed and produced a ME machine which is able to work with the metal powder filled filaments under an inert gas atmosphere. In a second step we added a magnetisation unit with the goal to align the magnetic particles during the printing process.
Which advantages are there for your organisation in REProMag?
From the technical point of view, we learnt that we don’t have to melt the metal itself: as it is embedded in powder form in a binder (polymer), it can be processed into filaments. After printing, the part is debinded and sintered and ends up as pure metal component.
A successful project allows us to broaden our range of products within the field of AM. We will be in the position to offer the whole process chain from developing the part design together with the customer, the feedstock and the filament, delivering the equipment and doing the debinding and sintering. We can offer the part production as job order production or we can deliver the necessary equipment.
We also benefit from the very diverse consortium which allows us to get in touch with universities and basic knowledge but also with possible partners for the development of products and with potential clients in many European countries. Of course, the financial support from the European Union is very welcomed as well.
REProMag is your first Horizon 2020 project. Are you satisfied with the project so far? What would you still improve / what would you do differently if you could start again at day one of the project?
Yes we are satisfied. We started our marketing campaign for printing Titanium at the Hannover Fair 2017. The experience gained from REProMag and the support of the partners make that possible. The organisation is excellent and the bureaucratic effort is also manageable. So we are happy with REProMag!
It does sound like a positive experience! Would you recommend taking part in research and innovation programmes supported by the European Commission?
Yes we would, due to our positive experiences. Of course the programmes are the frame and the partners have to fill them with innovative spirit so it depends mostly on the good cooperation and mixture of the consortium to achieve results. The monetary support allows also small companies being a part of such large and basic projects.
So we decided to join another Horizon 2020 project – CerAMfacturing (GA No. 678503) – which deals with the additive manufacturing of metals and ceramics in a multi-material approach.
Stefan Hampel holds a Master of Science in Technical Physics and is responsible in particular for the development of innovative solutions.
Peter Freigassner has a degree in mechanics and automation technology from applied university CAMPUS02 Graz. He is responsible for R&D and technical sales of special purpose machinery, for FSW and AM process.