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Formnext2023: Fraunhofer IWS installing novel industrial 3D printer for multiple metals...

08 Nov 2023

...and LZH and partners will present lasers for farming applications at AGRITECH, in Hannover.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology (IWS) in Dresden, Germany, is to install a new type of multi-metal industrial 3D printer.

The additive manufacturing system from Stuttgart-based manufacturer Farsoon is based on selective laser beam melting in a powder bed. It can produce substantial components with complex geometries from aluminum, titanium, nickel, iron, copper, and other metallic powders layer by layer.

IWS scientists are directing their research and development work with the manufacturing facility, such as combustion chambers for hydrogen energy systems, blade wheel enclosures for turbines, and other complex machine components or tools.

Alongside the Brandenburg University of Technology, Cottbus-Senftenberg, (“BTU”) in the joint project “SpreeTec neXt”, the partners aim to establish new manufacturing processes and value chains for the “post-coal era” in Lusatia, a region that straddles eastern Germany and western Poland.

USPs for businesses

IWS director Prof. Christoph Leyens commented, “With such system technology, the East German SMEs can develop special unique selling propositions with our help. Especially in the transformation region of Lusatia, projects like SpreeTec next will give new impulse to the regional economy.”

IWS contends that many existing 3D printers “are limited in their capabilities: for example, they may only specialize in plastic prototypes, produce comparatively small metallic components, or can only produce less complex shaped components using other manufacturing processes such as buildup welding.”

The IWS statement adds, “However, modern 3D printers such as [ours] reshuffle the cards: the new AM system can generate components that measure up to 62 x 62 x 110 cm.”

‘New possibilities’

“This system thus offers completely new possibilities to additively manufacture even huge components with complex geometry in high quality,” said Dr. Lukas Stepien, who heads the Powder Bed Processes and Printing Group at IWS. “Thus, it opens up application opportunities for industrial 3D printing in even more industries and applications.”

For example, decentralized additive manufacturing is conceivable, in which new components and tools for small batch sizes are permanently needed or replacement components are challenging to obtain. This could be of interest for automotive manufacturing, aerospace, energy plants, and in toolmaking, for instance.

The project partners are working to establish an innovation center in the region by 2029 intended to strengthen regional structural change. To this end, BTU and Fraunhofer are collaborating in Additive Manufacturing.

The plan is to permanently establish a joint Fraunhofer and BTU laboratory in Lusatia to support sustainable economic development. The team will then advise small and medium-sized companies from the transformation region on the use of advanced technologies related to additive manufacturing, provide further training for employees of such companies, and support the growth of an AM cluster.

• The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) will fund these specific subtasks of "SpreeTec neXt" with five million euros each.

• Fraunhofer IWS and its partner Farsoon is offer the first insights into the resulting possibilities at the international manufacturing trade show “formnext” from November 7 to 10, 2023, in Frankfurt am Main.

LZH to present lasers for farming at AGRITECH, Hannover

There are many photonics-based applications that can contribute to modernizing agriculture. Research institutions Laser Center Hannover (LZH) and Niedersachsen ADDITIV will present their latest ideas at AGRITECHNICA, which takes place also in Hannover, Germany, from November 12th to 18th.

The focus will be on light-based pest and weed control using lasers and additive manufacturing. With laser technology, weeds can be precisely and selectively destroyed, without affecting nearby crops.

This method is more ecologically sustainable than chemical pesticides and significantly contributes to avoiding herbicide resistance, one of the most pressing challenges in modern agriculture. The laser treatment is controlled using artificial intelligence: image recognition distinguishes crops and weeds, and the laser targets are determined.

AI inputs

LZH also employs AI-based laser technology in pest control. The “LightTrap” (LichtFalle) is an autonomously moving system that attracts insects with an LED light surface and then neutralizes them with a laser.

An integrated camera module automatically identifies whether an insect is a pest or a beneficial species based on image data, providing users with a digital decision support system for pesticide application through live monitoring. Light-based pest control can reduce the use of chemical agents, enabling more efficient and resource-friendly food production.

The opportunities for agriculture to benefit from additive manufacturing are diverse. For example, replacement parts for agricultural machinery can be produced quickly in a 3D printer. Highly stressed equipment and components can be repaired or protected against wear through deposition welding. At AGRITECHNICA, the Niedersachsen ADDITIV project team showcases concrete examples of how 3D printing in agriculture creates real added value.

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