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Partnership Advances Metal 3D Printing in Automotive Series Production

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A consortium of 12 partners representing industry and research has spearheaded a project that has led to the integration of digitally networked and fully automated 3D-printing lines into the automotive industry. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (Fraunhofer ILT) reported that the project IDAM (Industrialization and Digitalization of Additive Manufacturing) has met its goal of enabling at least 50,000 components per year to be cost effectively manufactured using the laser powder bed fusion process.

These components, as well as more than 10,000 individual and spare parts, will be manufactured at BMW Group sites in Munich and at GKN Powder Metallurgy in Bonn, Germany. BMW, the IDAM project coordinator, and BKM Powder Metallurgy are additional partners on the IDAM project. Three years ago, the consortium, which consists of SMEs, large companies, and research institutions, launched with the aim to revolutionize metallic 3D printing in the field of automotive series production. The collaborators set up a digitally networked, fully automated 3D-printing production line at two locations and prepared it for automotive series production.

Due to the modular design of the blueprint of the introduced production line, the annual number of units can be further scaled as required, according to Fraunhofer ILT.

Fraunhofer ILT reported that a project started in 2019 realized its goal of enabling at least 50,000 components per year to be manufactured using the laser powder bed fusion process. The components, which include wet-chemical decoupled parts, will be manufactured at BMW Group sites and at GKN Powder Metallurgy, all in Germany. Courtesy of Fraunhofer ILT.
Fraunhofer ILT reported that a project started in 2019 realized its goal of enabling at least 50,000 components per year to be manufactured using the laser powder bed fusion process. The components, which include wet-chemical decoupled parts, will be manufactured at BMW Group sites and at GKN Powder Metallurgy, all in Germany. Courtesy of Fraunhofer ILT.
The method is powered by a central control unit, in which all data of the individual line modules converge on a digital level. A digital twin is generated, which monitors all relevant production data, at all times, for maximum productivity and quality. Fully automated modules transport the processed metal powder and prepare it. In addition, automatic post-processing of the manufactured components takes place in specially designed stations. Comprehensive quality assurance measures have been implemented along these production lines. For example, sensors are used in the laser melting process to monitor and ensure that the finished parts fulfill quality requirements.

In introducing the IDAM project in March 2019, Fraunhofer ILT said successful realization of the project goals would allow the partners to reduce the manual share of activities along the process chain from around 35% to less than 5%. In addition, the unit costs of 3D-printed metal components should be more than halved, Fraunhofer ILT said at the time.

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is supporting the IDAM project.

Photonics Spectra
Aug 2022
BusinesspartnershipindustryR&DFraunhoferFraunhofer ILTBMW GroupGermanylaserslaser powder bed fusionmanufacturingadditive manufacturingautomotiveautomotive componentsprocess inspectionprocess monitoringautomationIndustry News

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