Additive manufacturing – adding instead of removing

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

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, Fraunhofer IPT is 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.

Additive manufacturing processes at Fraunhofer IPT

Layer by layer, components or products are created using additive processes. Their high flexibility and resource efficiency in one-off and small-batch production are outstanding. However, additive manufacturing does not replace subtractive manufacturing through material removal. Rather, its use effectively expands the technology portfolio and - often in combination with machining production processes - improves the agility of manufacturing companies. An important focus of our work is therefore these additive manufacturing processes:


Laser powder bed fusion

Complex components can be manufactured from powder materials using selective laser melting.


Laser metal deposition with wire

Laser metal deposition with wire (LMD-w) is an additive manufacturing process for component fabrication and repair with 100 percent material efficiency.


Wire arc additive manufacturing

Wire arc additive manufacturing allows particularly large, complex components to be manufactured quickly and efficiently.


2-photon polymerization is a high-precision generative process with accuracy in the nanometer range.

Quality assurance in the running laser process

Particularly high accuracy in the laser process requires new, especially powerful metrology and evaluation methods.

Technology evaluation

We will be happy to work with you to determine which additive technologies are best suited to your manufacturing task and how they can be optimally integrated into existing process chains.