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Additive Manufacturing (AM) is among the plastics processing technologies that have undergone rapid development in the past decade. It has become the method of choice when it comes to the production of customised components or of small lots and is well established in the plastics industry by now. The trend continues towards ever larger and more sophisticated applications, because the high degree of geometric freedom resulting from the by layer-by-layer construction offers enormous potential for new developments. Current challenges concern the comparatively long production times, the maximum component size and the mechanical and optical component properties.
IKV has been carrying out research on the scaling of Additive Manufacturing for several years now and can draw on its comprehensive knowledge regarding the interdependencies of material parameters, production parameters as well as component design and the characteristics of the product and process. One of the major tools is the physically motivated modelling of the cooling and solidification behaviour of the thermoplastic material in Additive Manufacturing processes. The research is aimed at putting the user in a position to exploit the full potential of AM, to select materials that are suitable for the application and to design and streamline his process.
One example where these insights have found application is the development and construction of a machine for efficient large-scale AM that combines the melt discharge of a screw extruder with the installation space of a robot arm. Along with the machine, a novel way of arranging the layers, the Advanced Dimension Additive Manufacturing (ADAM) technology, has been devised to increase component quality. ADAM allows for an unrestricted three-dimensional arrangement and curvature of the individual layers. This way it is possible to align the layers according to the relevant loads and to reduce the surface roughness of the components.
In the Internet of Production Cluster of Excellence, additive manufacturing processes are used to improve the quality and speed of decision-making during production. For this purpose, a production planning and control system was developed that is able to manage and automatically control large and heterogeneous machinery plants. Based on component properties specified by the user in advance, process parameters can be precisely determined. Besides, decentralised production, taking into account total costs and minimisation of the ecological footprint can be realised with this system.
The aim of the research project is to develop a calculation routine to predict the local interlayer strength of components. For this, the temperature curves in the interlayer area are first determined as a function of the manufacturing parameters, and the resultant interlayer strength data are examined. The results serve as a basis for modelling the development of the interlayer strength and the building of a routine for predicting it.
In this research project, carried out jointly with Volkswagen AG, the differences in the mechanical properties of additively manufactured prototypes and injection-moulded components are studied. Test specimens, functional elements and demonstrator components are analysed to identify differences in properties and to evaluate the suitability of additively manufactured prototypes. Furthermore, it will be investigated how the properties determined on additively manufactured prototypes can be transferred to injection moulded components.