Scientists Investigate Novel Type of 3D Printing Procedure
Multi-Material 3D Printing for MMD Lightweight Components
High-performance fiber composite materials have a large potential for lightweight construction, enabling novel designs for resource-efficient high-tech products. Intelligent combination of such fiber composites to conventional engineering materials, for example metals, is called multi-material design (MMD). It significantly widens the range of applications, due to systematic utilization of the benefits specific to the respective materials. This can only be utilized in terms of economy, though, if suitable and efficient manufacturing techniques are available for different lot sizes.
Additive processes may be a solution. However, at present, it is not possible to produce MMD lightweight components, for example a fiber composite metal hybrid structure, by additive manufacturing. Traditional polymer 3D printing processes generate components with limited mechanical properties. In fact, the component can be geometrically inspected, but cannot be tested during application or loaded on site. There are no suitable methods and technologies available to enable affordable additive production that ensures the required properties. This would be a prerequisite for enterprises to offer an MMC sample component suitable for later serial production, without actual investment costs.
Scientists at TU Technische Universität Dresden, together with entrepreneurs from the Saxony area, are developing novel types of 3D printing processes designed to optimize combinations of different materials. This is done in the framework of the MM3D research project concerned with additive manufacturing of multi-material lightweight structures and tooling systems (“Generative Fertigung von Multi-Material-Leichtbaustrukturen und -Werkzeugsystemen“). To assist technology development, a “Shared Factory” is established, where members use the findings across companies, developing the structures and processes necessary for efficient co-operation, and testing them in practical application.
The "Sächsische Aufbaubank GmbH“ financial institution supports the MM3D project as part of the „InnoTeam“ program. It is funded by the European Union and the federal state of Saxony. The project consortium comprises two research institutes of TU Dresden: the Institute of Lightweight Engineering and Polymer Technology (ILK) and the Institute of Machine Tools and Control Engineering (IWM), in addition to eight SMEs from the Dresden area. Carbon Composites e.V., department CC Ost, initiated the project and will support the partners in the further course of research.