New ways to the component

New ways to the component

Processes that were previously used in the plastics sector are now also bringing steel & Co. into shape.

Gone are the days when additive manufacturing of metal parts was reserved for financially strong companies and research institutions. There is no longer any need for cabinet-sized machines that allow laser or electron beams to dance over a powder bed in a protective gas atmosphere. A few thousand euros and a small place on the desk can be enough to shape steel & Co. to the millimetre. This is made possible by processes that originally came from the field of plastics.

The printer of the Pforzheim start-up Metshape is very accurate. It is based on the LMM process (Lithography-based Metal Manufacturing). A photosensitive polymer in which the finest metal powder is dissolved is exposed layer by layer with a projector. In precision mode, each layer is only 20 µm high. The resulting green part must then also be sintered. The surfaces then have a mean roughness value of less than 7 µm.

Laser-based processes are still leading the industry. Due to their comparatively long history - the first patent in Germany was granted in 1995 - they have a research lead.

This text is an excerpt from the article "Auf neuen Wegen zum Bauteil" by Stefan Asche, published on 09.08.2019 on "VDI-Nachrichten.com".

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