Additive manufacturing technologies

Industrial 3D printing – from rapid prototyping to additive manufacturing

The core competences of our institute in machine tool development, forming and cutting technology, mechatronics, functional lightweight design and system technology are complemented and supported by additive manufacturing processes. Manufacturing of metal components by applying the process of laser beam melting enables the Fraunhofer IWU to show its industrial partners new paths of development and manufacturing of innovative components.

Laser beam melting

Manufacturing beyond current process limits

Laser beam melting is an additive manufacturing process. The components are constructed layer-by-layer (“generated”) based on 3D CAD data, using powdery production materials such as stainless steel or hot-work steel, aluminum, titanium, cobalt-chromium or nickel-base alloys. The material is locally completely molten by laser and achieves a microstructure that is 99.5 to 100 percent dense after solidification. Due to the layer-by-layer design (“generation”) of the components this process offers almost unlimited freedom of design and construction, thus enabling manufacturing of any desired complex geometries and internal structures.

Additive manufacturing of plastic components

Innovative processes for plastics processing

The “Fraunhofer Plastics Technology Center Oberlausitz” at the site in Zittau offers plastics-based rapid manufacturing from first drafts to functional prototypes up to employable products. The focus lies on redesigning products for optimal use of the rapid prototyping resources, determination of characteristic values depending on the construction process, rapid tooling, functional integration and lightweight construction. Concept models and functional prototypes are manufactured at the Fraunhofer IWU by laser sintering and FDM processes, using the plastics ABS, PC, PA and PEI. This range of materials can be extended.

Fiber plastic composites

Printing of fiber plastic composites

By applying the novel 3D printing of plastics and by implementing continuous fibers, the Fraunhofer IWU can produce more durable hybrid components that still exhibit the same freedom of design of plastic printing. In this context various fiber types (glass, plastic and aramid) can be embedded layer by layer into a polyamide (PA) matrix in a fully automated manner. Furthermore, alternative materials can be integrated or sensors can be integrated into the interior of the structure to be printed.