Additive manufacturing (AM) is advancing towards the future in leaps and bounds and will unleash its full potential by merging with other innovative technologies. These were the words of keynote speakers on the second day of Rapid.Tech 3D, outlining progress with design and industrialisation in AM.
In order for additive manufacturing to be successful and to break through into the mainstream, robust international standards are essential. Working with certified processes not only ensures reproducible product quality and process stability, it also fosters acceptance and trust on the market, remarked Christoph Hauck, Member of the Executive Board at Toolcraft. In addition, it harmonises processes, which in turn reduces the cost of acquiring many different manufacturer-specific certifications. Christoph Hauck reported on how things are done at Toolcraft. The manufacturer of high-end precision components started developing its AM technology in 2011. In 2018, it achieved a milestone, getting its micro-welding process certified under Nadcap, the aerospace engineering standard. As Christoph Hauck pointed out, this certification is currently held by only eleven companies in the world. The company has also been certified for medical technology and defence technology. When it comes to standards and certifications, cost should not be the most important factor. Rather, it is far more important to explain the benefits and to motivate and educate employees about the processes. Christoph Hauck believes that AM standards offer great leverage to help additive manufacturing become more widespread. But this also requires well-qualified workers. That’s why Toolcraft has collaborated with Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg and the Nuremberg Chamber of Commerce and Industry to create an additional qualification for final-year apprentices.
For Daniel Büning of the nFrontier innovation studio, clever, creative minds are the most important factor for the creation of new, sought-after, sustainable products through the technological convergence. He believes innovation originates at the interface between emerging technologies, such as AM, virtual reality, robotics, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, generative design, the Internet of Things and 5G. According to Büning, these technologies will have a significant influence on the international economy by 2050 – which is why technicians and artists at nFrontier are working together across a range of disciplines. It’s an approach that rapidly generates sustainable, innovative products, and Daniel Büning likens it to sounding out unexplored territory beyond existing boundaries. This boundary-free collaboration has already resulted in a concept for an e-vehicle whose maximum weight of 900 kg exploits a gap in the vehicle market and means it can be driven on cycle paths at up to 25 km/h without a driving licence. Another example is a helmet that not only has an integrated fall sensor, but can also deploy an air bag to protect its user’s face from impact.
Consumer goods corporation Procter & Gamble (P&G) is also forging new and sustainable paths with AM. In his keynote, Klaus Eimann, Technical Director for Product and Packaging Innovation at P&G Germany, presented examples of hybrid concepts and repairs. For example, the company produces base units for rollers using conventional methods, while incorporating key properties such as hardness or surface structure additively using laser metal deposition (LMD). Repairs on such components can also be carried out additively, saving not only on time and money, but also on materials and energy. The current situation, especially with regard to the availability of resources and the need for sustainable business practices, provides compelling reasons for further integration of AM into the company’s processes, said Klaus Eimann. Using video examples, he encouraged the audience to generate ideas for how they might deploy additive manufacturing in their own businesses.
The Design, Software & Processes, Tool, Model and Mould Making, AM in Construction Engineering & Architecture and AM in User Practice trade forums, and the Fraunhofer Additive Manufacturing Competence Field forum focused on selected additive manufacturing applications and current research. In the 3D printing conference, speakers presented specialised new systems, materials and techniques for a range of additive processes.
In the evening, the winners of this year’s 3D Pioneers Challenge were selected, with the jury selected the winners from 37 finalists who presented their projects at Rapid.Tech 3D.
The third and final day of the conference and trade show once again offered a high-calibre programme, including keynotes by the German Emirati Institute and Autodesk, and the Aviation, Science and News From AM trade forums. The 3D printing conference and workshop area continued to welcome visitors.
The keynotes and Aviation Forum could also be followed in English and German via the bilingual live stream.