Event spotlight

Stunning 3D printing technologies at Formnext

| Author / Editor: Ahlam Rais / Ahlam Rais

With up to 2.5 kW, the working plane is preheated independently of the overall height.
With up to 2.5 kW, the working plane is preheated independently of the overall height. (Source: Fraunhofer ILT)

At the Formnext trade show, Fraunhofer ILT will be exhibiting the new LPBF (laser powder bed fusion) -pre-heating concepts using VCSEL (vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser), materials for additive manufacturing and an enhanced software for precise cost and construction time calculation for the LPBF process.

Known across the world as one of the most vital development and contract research institutes of its kind, the German-based Fraunhofer Institute specialises in optical as well as laser manufacturing technology. Right from the development of new laser beam sources and components to industrial laser processes, the institute has come up with the most innovative solutions in recent times. If you are excited to know more about the institute’s cutting-edge technologies then one can meet the technical experts and even experience some of their most recent technologies at the upcoming Formnext exhibition. Held annually in Frankfurt, Formnext highlights the additive manufacturing sector with dedicated competitions, technical sessions and interesting conferences.

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Innovations @formnext 2018

As the global trade fair attracts the crème of the industry, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be displaying some stunning solutions. For instance, a direct process layer pre-heating is being developed which acts as the perfect substitute for today’s pre-heating concepts. The new concept is being developed as part of the Research Campus Digital Photonic Production DPP. The most significant aspect of this direct process layer pre-heating technique is the integration of a Vertical Surface Emitting Laser (VCSEL) into a LPBF-laboratory set up. At Formnext, the institute will showcase the process to trade visitors and also display some of the parts that have been developed by the direct process layer pre-heating technique.

New Materials

The Fraunhofer ILT is also exploring new material concepts for additive manufacturing by making use of the Laser Metal Deposition (LMD) method. It is interesting to note that high cooling rates are present by default in the process of LMD. The resulting grain-refinement in combination with the solidification morphology of eutectics leads to an increase in strength and ductility. Hence, owing to the low amount of required powder as well as the degree of freedom with regards to the chemical composition, the LMD technique is selected for the purpose of alloy development of the laser-based additive processes.

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Specialised software

In addition to this, there is a growing need amongst industry players to locate reliable tools for the realistic calculation of process times and component costs for the LPBF process. To meet this growing demand, the Fraunhofer ILT is expected to introduce a software tool through which users can quickly and precisely calculate process times, quantities and component costs for their manufactured components via LPBF. The range of functions can be adapted to the user's requirements and the software is suitable for experienced users and beginners due to its simple design.

To witness all these technologies and more, visit the Fraunhofer ILT booth at E70 in Hall 3.0.

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