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12-05-2018

Technical Coatings for Additive Manufacturing

NPO Sirris and Fraunhofer Institute IAP Cooperate

Complex AM-fabricated parts dry after their metallization (© Fraunhofer IAP)

Complex AM-fabricated parts dry after their metallization (© Fraunhofer IAP)

AM describes the construction of an object layer by layer using a 3D-model. The technologies vary but 3D printing is probably the best known. However, selective laser sintering (SLS), stereolithography (SLA) or material jetting (MJ) play important roles in the AM market.

While the first AM technologies were developed for rapid prototyping, today, AM is taking the leap into industrial production. It is one of the important future technologies that will influence the manufacturing market and beyond. The industry can profit from AM with its production on-demand capabilities, its and flexible adaptability and the possibility to produce small quantities. However, the surface of the fabricated components is usually very rough and porous.

To meet this challenge, two partners investigated technical coatings for additive manufacturing in a joint project: Sirris is an organization focused on finding solutions for technological challenges, usually in projects with universities, research centers, companies, associations and other institutions. Researchers at the Fraunhofer IAP, among other areas of expertise, have long years of experience in technical coatings.

Technical Coatings Enable Smooth and Sealed Surfaces

With technical coatings, the Sirris and Fraunhofer researchers were able to significantly improve AM-produced parts regarding surface roughness and porosity. It turned out that the combination of lacquering and polishing is the most efficient technique for surface optimization in AM. In addition, components can be functionalized further by using special lacquers or surface treatments. In the current project, the scientists metallized the smoothed components. The metal coating is a visible example for the functionalization process. Improved scratch resistance, antimicrobial properties and many more features are applicable.

Sirris provided different components made with SLS, SLA, MJ, and FDM (fused deposition modeling = 3D printing). All methods pose different challenges to surface treatment.

Fast To Complex Produced Components

Conventional production methods often reach their limits with complex components. The more complex a component, the more difficult and expensive it becomes in conventional production. AM opens up possibilities to produce complex components faster and more cost-efficiently. With AM, a component that would conventionally consist of many individual parts and would have to be assembled can be created in one step.

Company profile

Fraunhofer Inst.f. angewandte Polymerforschung IAP

Geiselbergstraße 69
DE 14476 Potsdam-Golm

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