How AM is hitting the road and taking flight


The Automotive & Mobility and Aviation Forums will present the latest additive applications for use in road vehicles and aeroplanes at the digital Rapid.Tech 3D conference 2021

(Erfurt, 26. April 2021) Additive manufacturing (AM) is now firmly established in the technology portfolio of automotive engineering. In addition to motor sports and the premium segment, it is increasingly used in mass-produced modes of transport. But how widely are additive processes already deployed in series production? This question will be answered by the Automotive & Mobility Forum at the Rapid.Tech 3D specialist conference on 22 June 2021. “Using AM successfully comes down to more than just the vehicle manufacturers. The entire value chain needs to be scrutinised to make mobility more sustainable as a whole. This is reflected in the forum’s programme and in the entire conference because sustainability is the guiding principle for the entire event,” explain Frank Cremer of 3D Systems and Dr Bernhard Müller of Fraunhofer IWU, who are overseeing the content and structure of the forum.

In the opening keynote of the specialist conference prior to the expert talks, Ralf Anderhofstadt and Janis Kretz of Daimler Buses will report on the progress in implementing additive manufacturing in the production of Mercedes-Benz and Setra brand buses. The forum will start with the “AM implementation journey” of the automotive supplier Schaeffler. Carsten Merklein will present the development of AM applications in the company, from their first use in visualisation models, followed by functional prototypes and tools, all the way through to preparing for series production. The engineering service provider EDAG considers the possibilities of additive technologies right from the conception and design phase. This allows effects such as lightweight engineering, active aerodynamics, functional integration and attractive design to be combined in an innovative rear spoiler system, as Sebastian Flügel will explain. The system is designed for low-volume production.

Talks by BMW, Volkswagen and trinckle 3D will explore ways to achieve cost-effective series production using AM technologies. Paul Oswald of BMW will explain how the process chain can be optimised in powder-based additive manufacturing processes using a machine learning model. Anwar Shad of VW will take a closer look at the use of metal 3D printing in automotive engineering. He will discuss possible applications as well as the weaknesses that still need to be eliminated in order to make series production cost-effective. Dr Ole von Seelen of trinckle 3D will outline how his company is supporting Ford with the automation of its design processes for additively manufactured tools, thereby achieving significant time and budget savings.

Efficiency and sustainability are also the keywords of the Aviation Forum on 22 and 23 June. “The virtue of AM today is that it can be used to individualise the production of components and products and to do so in many cases in smaller batches than would be technically or economically feasible with conventional processes. However, when moving into series production, every part must be subject to the same quality requirements and approvals. For safety reasons, this is the bare minimum for components in aviation. Some challenges remain in consistently ensuring reproducible high quality in the AM process chain while achieving marketable cost structures. Our expert speakers from industry and research will explain what it takes to efficiently produce AM components and systems for aeroplanes to the highest standards, drawing on various use cases,” explains Stephan Eelman, who is Vice President Technology & Innovation at the aviation supplier Deharde and is responsible for coordinating the content of the forum.

The use of additively manufactured components is already having an impact on aircraft interiors and air conditioning systems, for example. Through component integration, reduced use of materials and lower energy consumption, additively manufactured plastic components help to lower weights and thus reduce fuel consumption. Sonja Rasch of Materialise will discuss this and other intelligent applications of AM for prototypes, production tools and series manufacturing in aviation.

Markus Axtner of MT Aerospace will outline how the benefits of additive manufacturing can be harnessed in the production of large-scale metal structures. The company uses additive friction stir welding and directed energy deposition, a 3D metal printing technology, to produce highly stressed large-scale structures made of aluminium or titanium alloys cost-effectively.

Stefan Polenz of Fraunhofer IWS will outline how additive and subtractive technologies can be combined to produce aeroplane turbine housings resource-efficiently. Dr Martina Zimmermann of the same institute will demonstrate how new methods can reduce the time required for quality inspections of additively manufactured components, including the fatigue strength of titanium alloys.

Martin Schäfer of Siemens and Stefan Polenz of Fraunhofer IWS will examine the entire chain of hybrid additive processes. They will discuss the planning and optimisation of such process chains, as well as the possibilities for standardisation in the value-creating network, drawing on a case study on the resource-efficient production of aeroplane turbine housings.

Further talks will explore current issues relating to additive manufacturing in the aerospace industry. Robust and reliable processes are essential to ensuring high component quality, even in low batch sizes, for example in additively manufactured satellite structures. Dr Marco Mulser of OHB System will report on his experiences in manufacturing such structures. Dr Thomas Kleinteich from the testing centre TPW Prüfzentrum will discuss the non-destructive quality testing of an AM satellite component using industrial computed tomography.

The final talk of the Rapid.Tech 3D specialist conference on the afternoon of 23 June will focus on a special case study in the aviation industry. Alexander Altmann, Head of Additive Manufacturing at Liebherr-Aerospace Lindenberg, will report on the integration of AM technology into the production of the Boeing 777X folding wing-tip system, using a hydraulic actuator. The case study will illustrate how Liebherr dealt with challenges such as thermal stresses in production, pressure loss during deployment, surface treatment and wear surfaces for titanium actuators. Altmann will also provide an overview of the future technological requirements for the series production of highly integrated components.

As well as the mobility-related forums, the popular sessions AM Science; Medical, Dental & Orthopaedic Technology; Software, Processes & Design; Tool, Model & Mould Making and the Fraunhofer Competence Field Additive Manufacturing are on the programme for the Rapid.Tech 3D specialist conference. Two new subject areas will be added with the forums AM in Construction Engineering & Architecture and News from AM.

The conference programme is available at: