Overath SLM and Overath EPP

In the category ‘Think big! Complex energy efficiency projects’, the award goes to the tools manufacturer Overath SLM of Lohmar in North Rhine-Westphalia, and its sister company Overath EPP of Oebisfelde in Saxony-Anhalt, manufacturers of moulded foam products. These two have been able to make a leap in innovation by manufactur-ing tools using a 3D printing process. The energy savings achieved amount to 86 per cent during manufacturing of the tools and 79 per cent during their subsequent use.

Overath SLM develops and manufactures tools for series production of moulded parts in the particle foam industry. The activities of its sister company, Overath EPP GmbH, include producing assembly parts made of expanded polypropylene for the automotive industry, and using these tools for processing.

The core idea of this project consists of using an innovative 3D printing technique based on ‘selective laser melting’ (SLM). Overath SLM is able to save on material and reduce the weight of the tools using this process. Moreover, stainless steel is used instead of aluminium, which is energy-intensive to produce. This means high savings of energy and CO2 can already be achieved in the upstream chain.

In addition to these savings on energy and materials during manufacturing of the tools, considerable and specific advantages over conventional technologies also arise when they are used in the production of particle foams. The 3D printing technique results in a considerable reduction in energy use – up to 80 per cent – and a reduction of cooling water requirements.