Additive manufacturing, also known "3D printing", comprises all manufacturing processes in which a workpiece is built up layer by layer by adding material. In the process, the newly added material bonds with the existing material. This can be done either by melting the two materials, by a photochemical reaction or by a binder. A variety of different polymer, metal and ceramic materials can be used in additive manufacturing. The largest industrial fields of application are found in plastics and metal processing as well as in lightweight construction.
Additive manufacturing processes are characterized by their ability to build up workpieces of high complexity and with filigree structures or cavities quickly and in a resource-saving manner. Demonstrator components or individual products in small quantities can thus be manufactured or processed quickly and flexibly.
From the starting material to the final component – everything from a single source
The Fraunhofer IPT develops additive manufacturing processes and integrates them into a wide variety of manufacturing systems and sustainable production chains. In doing so, we always consider the entire process chain from the starting material to the finished component. With our broad technology portfolio and deep process understanding, we combine all manufacturing steps under one roof and can develop optimal solutions for almost any manufacturing task.
Laser structuring for new functions of component surfaces
In addition to additive manufacturing, we at the Fraunhofer IPT are also working on nano- and microstructures for industrial applications. By laser structuring component surfaces with ultrashort pulse lasers, we can provide component surfaces with single or multiple functions: Thus, hydrophilic (water-loving), hydrophobic (water-repellent), lipophilic or lipophobic (fat-loving or fat-repellent) and even bactericidal (bacteria-killing) structures can be applied. Such surface functionalizations significantly expand and improve the properties and range of applications of the components.