Bundling many functions into the smallest space for “thinking” technology – 3D printing makes completely new approaches and uses possible


3D-Printed Electronics & Functionality forum demonstrates examples of the integration of sensors, electronics and optics in additively manufactured products

“Thinking” technology, as increasingly used in cars, machines, medical applications or within your own four walls, needs working data streams. “The integration of sensors into 3D-printed elements gives us the ideal opportunity to collect data quickly and reliably on the spot. A high level of functionality can be achieved in minimal space. We are just starting to tap into this potential and want to exchange views on the current state of research and usage in Erfurt. For this purpose, we have redesigned the 3D-Printed Electronic Engineering forum and have put the spotlight on functionality,” says Wolfgang Mildner. The owner of MSWtech, a technology service provider for printed electronics, is responsible for the thematic orientation of the 3D-Printed Electronics & Functionality forum on 6 June 2018 at Rapid.Tech + FabCon 3.D at Messe Erfurt.

Options for function integration will be demonstrated using various applications. Miniaturising analytical devices (lab-on-a-chip) in order to reduce the usage of expensive and environmentally damaging chemicals, among other things, is one example for medical technology. Drilling and etching processes for micro-channels can be realised cost-effectively using additive procedures. In order to still retain a high level of measuring accuracy, the surface of the channels is enlarged using fibre cores to take advantage of their light-absorbing effect. The University of Duisburg-Essen will present the results of these investigations.

Researchers from the Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied Sciences will report on how 3D-printed light-conductive structures can be embedded in sensor and communications components and used for various industrial applications. Scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology (IWU) will demonstrate the integration of movable and sensor elements in additively manufactured components using a gripper for automation technology as an example. A presentation by the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg will show that it is already possible to combine various manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing, electronics printing and SMT component placement in one machine and to manufacture mechatronically integrated assemblies (3D-MID). The scientists at the city’s Institute for Manufacturing Automation and Production Systems create 3D functional structures with which completely new high-frequency functions can be implemented, such as for IoT applications, among others. Additively manufactured components are also functionalised using MID technology at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechatronic Systems Design (IEM). This process will be illustrated using an additively manufactured filling pipe with integrated fill-level sensors, among others.

German company Neotech AMT will present the current state of electronics created entirely with 3D printing. Nano Dimensions from Israel will give a talk on how to meet the challenge of multi-materials for 3D printed electronics.

The 3D-Printed Electronics & Functionality forum is part of the Rapid.Tech + FabCon 3.D international trade fair and conference for additive technologies, which will take place from 5 to 7 June 2018 at Messe Erfurt. The event is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. It has been held in Erfurt since 2004, and is a pioneer of 3D printing technologies at international level. Its comprehensive conference programme – the only one of its kind – also includes the Users Conference and AM Science forum being held on 6 and 7 June, respectively. New this year, held across both days, will be the Medical, Dental and Orthopaedic Technology forum. Another new forum on Law will be held on 5 June, alongside the Contract Additive Manufacturing, Design, Tool, Mould and Fixture Making and Automotive Industry forums. The 3D Metal Printing forum will follow on 6 June, with the Aviation forum on 7 June closing the three-day long fair.

The 3D printing community will once again come together on all three days for the 3D Printing Conference. As well as discussing current issues and technical innovations, speakers will give behind-the-scenes insights into their research and development activities and selected competitions. Talks will cover everything from start-up financing to digital fabrication to education. Messe Erfurt is also once again looking for the most innovative company founders for its Start-Up Award and the best design ideas for its 3D Pioneers Challenge.

More than 200 exhibitors will be presenting the latest developments, products and services in additive manufacturing at the sold-out trade fair.

In 2017, 4,800 (2016: 4,500) trade visitors and conference participants, and 207 exhibitors (2016: 176) from 13 countries attended Rapid.Tech + FabCon 3.D in Erfurt.


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You can find impressions of Rapid.Tech + FabCon 3.D 2017 here.