Additive Manufacturing

In recent decades, additive manufacturing (AM, additive manufacturing or colloquially 3D printing) is gaining more and more importance and is finding its way into more and more different industries. Why is this so?

The reason is that there are many applications that are finished after conventional, conventional manufacturing (subtractive). Additive manufacturing, however, creates potential here again to create added value, to become even more efficient. This can not be generalized and say that additive manufacturing is the right way to go in every application. However, in certain cases, manufacturing can be significantly more material efficient, since a material build-up takes place. It is not, as in conventional manufacturing (turning, milling ...), from a block of material so much away until only one component is left. Only my component is directly built up as it should be. No matter whether it is plastics, resins or metals.

Furthermore, there are completely new design possibilities and degrees of freedom in the construction of components. This also creates the possibility of making components more efficient. Bionics and topology optimization are major topics here in relation to additive manufacturing. One can look at many fully developed principles in nature and recreate them. Topology optimization makes it possible to optimize components precisely for their intended purpose. This means a reduction of material and space by X-percent for the same requirement.

By definition, additive manufacturing is a manufacturing method in which material is added (built up). In contrast to conventional manufacturing methods like milling or turning, which work subtractively (subtract). Generally, additive manufacturing is also colloquially referred to as 3D printing. Most of the manufacturing methods are based on the principle of plane layer formation. Thus, the model to be manufactured is divided into slices and it is built layer by layer. The 3D printer applies energy to the material to be formed in order to be able to reproduce the respective layer. Whether it is the filament melting in the FFF process or the laser beam that melts the metal powder in the SLM process.

Overview additive manufacturing processes

Process Common abbreviations Basis Materials Costs
Fused Filament Fabrication FFF, FDM, FLM Filament Plastics (ABS, ASA, PLA, PETG...) from 150€
Selective Laser Melting SLM, LBMF Metal Powder Metals (stainless steels, tool steels, titanium alloys, aluminuim ...) from 100.000€
Selective Laser Sintering SLS plastic powders plastics (PA11, PA12, TPU...) from 10.000€
Steriolitography SLA liquid resins photopolymers from 2.000€

The table shown is only intended to provide a rough overview of the various methods and is not exhaustive. Since additive manufacturing is a fast and strongly growing pillar of manufacturing methods, new processes and optimized methods are constantly being added.

Since the INTERREG project ComPrintMetal3D is about making additive manufacturing methods interesting for small and medium sized enterprises, those methods were selected which allow the production of metal components. In order to give SMEs as good an overview as possible of the possible investment costs, 3D printers with a price range of approx. 750 to 500,000€ are used. The various special features will be discussed with the aim of providing companies with a guide to the existing options.

Here you can find information about the selected metal printing processes.

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