Industrial applications of additive manufacturing are extremely diverse, ranging from the production of consumer goods, to automobiles, to medical engineering applications and indeed to the aerospace industry. Additive manufacturing enables the production of complex components and products with the same characteristics as conventional manufactured parts but with reduced material consumption and thus lower weight. For example, bionic and weight-optimized structures can be generated with a maximum ratio of mechanical resistance to weight. Moreover, this process allows structures to be manufactured with integrated features such as adapted shock absorption and improved heat transfer. Printing new worlds.
3D in the aerospace industry
Ready for take-off
The aerospace industry is a pioneer in the use of additive manufacturing. Here geometrically complex and reliable high-tech components are produced at drastically reduced production costs and weight. Furthermore, additive manufacturing enables optimized value chains by reducing processing times and environmental influences. Boeing has already installed tens of thousands of laser-sintered polymer components in commercial and military aircrafts. Additive manufacturing has an enormous value-added potential for the aerospace industry in regard to improved planning and development, component production, assembly and maintenance. For example, the production of complex and movable component geometries allows for easy and fast assembly. A further major area of application is in aircraft maintenance. In addition to repairing damaged parts, stocks can be reduced by the speedy on-demand manufacture of components.
3D in medical science
In the best of hands
Worldwide, more than 90% of polymer sleeves for inner-ear hearing aids are produced by additive manufacturing. In excess of 90,000 titanium hip sockets have been produced in Europe using EMB for use in the field of orthopedic implants. These are impressive numbers. And yet this is just the beginning. The entire field of medical engineering (implants and prosthetics, dental industry) can benefit from additive manufacturing. For example, data transfer from patient to digital production in laboratories will be simplified and sources of error eliminated. Furthermore, the process can be applied along the entire value chain of surgical devices. Fresh markets in completely new dimensions will emerge through the development of innovative materials and multi-material products.
3D in the electronics industry
Additive manufacturing can be employed in the electronics industry for application-specific development, for integration and testing as well as for serial production and the supply of spare components. Additive manufacturing can be used to adapt the production of electronic components to specific development processes. In this way design processes become faster as circuit boards can be directly produced from CAD data for specific geometries and shapes. Moreover, the integration of various electronic devices into one single product opens up unique new possibilities.
3D in the automotive industry
Picking up speed
Additive manufacturing processes can boost the value chain in the automotive industry as well as improve mobility in general through enhanced development, component testing, the production of vehicle parts, fast assembly as well as the supply of spare parts. Additive manufacturing can also assist in the evaluation and testing of different designs when developing new vehicle models. The production of small test series of functional components can be realized without complex tool production. Also, production times for spare components can be significantly shortened.
Adjusting the screws
Additive manufacturing can serve the tooling sector by directly producing some tools while making other tools redundant. Currently, applications of additive manufactured components in mechanical engineering are limited to various grippers.
One growing market sector is the production of complete tooling systems. For example, the combination of CNC-machines with additive manufacturing systems is enabling the transition towards digital manufacturing.