Video: Milling carbon fibre composite and other difficult-to-machine materials.
 

COMPOSITES EUROPE (CE): Please introduce yourself. What are your responsibilities within your company?

Alexander Franz (AF): I have been the Managing Director/CEO of Becker Diamantwerkzeuge GmbH since August 2013. I am responsible for all technical aspects of the business. Prior to that I worked for Kennametal.

CE: Could you give us a quick overview of your company Becker Diamondtools?

AF: Becker Diamantwerkzeuge was founded and brought to its present success by Werner Becker, who was dealing with diamonds his whole life.

Werner Becker was able to substitute the originally very expensive diamond tools, which were custom-made specially to customer requirements (tipped with natural diamonds) by ISO-standardised tools. Over time, more cost-effective cutting materials were introduced, such as PCD (polycrystalline diamond), CBN (cubic boron nitride) and recently the CVD (chemical vapour deposition) diamond thick film. Hence the tools could be manufactured and sold with a similar efficiency at a much cheaper price. Thus, the tools have become more attractive for a much wider range of customers and the market has been growing rapidly for decades.

Today, Becker Diamantwerkzeuge maintains a very large inventory with a vast range of grades. The main effort in the production is to increase productivity steadily in order to keep up with the competition of emerging low-wage countries.

Becker Diamantwerkzeuge has performed pioneering work in laser technology. With this new technology it is possible to make diamond cutting edges extremely sharp and to laser chip braker geometries, which led to an immense progress in machining composites. We are sure this progress will continue in the future.

CE: Has your company always worked in the field of composites?

AF: Composites haven’t been an important field up to now. Only with the introduction of diamond thick film cutting material, coupled with the laser technology, our tools have become so economical that we are sure that exactly defined diamond cutting edges will become the most important technology for machining of these materials in the future.

We hope that we can capture a fair share of this market.

CE: What kind of projects have you undertaken for clients?

AF: Most of the time our tools are used for machining of components and devices of sub-suppliers.

I can name the machining of the new Porsche 918 as a well-known project; some parts of the carbon fibre car body panels are being machined with our tools.

CE: What other companies do you think are doing really good work in the composites industry?

AF: I can only talk about machining of composites. I think all companies dealing with laser processing of diamonds are doing really good work. Very great progress is being made

... the new Porsche 918 is a well-known project; some parts of the carbon fibre car body panels are being machined with our tools.
 

Diamond coating however, I don’t consider as constructive. Diamond coating faces a dilemma: the machining of composites requires an extremely sharp cutting edge and an extremely thick diamond coat layer. These two requirements , however, imply a contradiction: the thicker the coating layer is applied to the cutting edge, the more dull it will become.

CE: Where do you think the composites industry is headed? What are you looking forward to seeing?

AF: The composites industry will always be headed to a domain where stable lightweight construction is required. The key industry today is probably the aircraft industry. However looking at the investment and engagement in the automotive industry, one can expect that the aircraft industry will be surpassed by the automotive industry.

If it becomes more known how easily composites can be machined with the right tools, we can be sure to expect a few more surprises in the future.

CE: Finally, are you looking forward to the COMPOSITES EUROPE show?

AF: I am really looking forward to the show, because we are going to exhibit for the first time. Without too big expectations we are hoping to present ourselves very well.

I am hoping for a fruitful outcome and broaden my experience in the field of composites. ♦
 


COMPOSITES EUROPE 2014 – the 9th European Trade Fair and Forum for Composites, Technology and Applications, takes place on 7-9 October in Düsseldorf, Germany. 

COMPOSITES EUROPE is organised by Reed Exhibitions with the support of the European Composites Industry Association (EuCIA), the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA), the German engineering association VDMA (Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau), the German association for reinforced plastics AVK, and Reinforced Plastics magazine.