Manufacturing processes for metallic materials

Casting, powder metallurgy, and additive manufacturing

Fraunhofer IFAM has a broad and deep expertise in different metallurgical manufacturing processes. At the Bremen, Dresden, and Wolfsburg locations, our scientists work with state-of-the-art technology to find solutions for customer-specific component requirements from a wide range of technical fields and transfer them to industrial production.

In doing so, they also answer cross-technological manufacturing and materials engineering questions and, depending on requirements, work closely together in project teams from different areas of the institute such as fiber composite and composite materials as well as adhesive bonding and surface technology.

Here you will find a first introduction to the manufacturing processes we master at Fraunhofer IFAM.

Powder Metallurgy


Powder metallurgical technologies offer unique opportunities for the development of sintered and composite materials with tailored properties and property combinations. The starting point for powder technology solutions is always the material used. By mixing powders, materials with the required property profiles can be produced. For example, properties such as hardness, toughness, Young's modulus, wear and thermal expansion can be adapted to the requirements.

Metal Injection Molding (MIM)


Metal powder injection molding combines the molding capabilities of plastic injection molding with the material selection and material properties of powder metallurgy. The process enables a wide range of materials to be processed and a high level of geometric component complexity to be produced in large quantities. In the MIM process, metal powder is made flowable by adding thermoplastics and waxes and then molded in an injection molding process. The plastic content is then removed again and the component is densely sintered.

Additive manufacturing


By using additive processes, components can be created from powders in almost any and very complex shape. The finished components are given their final properties directly in the process. All commercially available process variants have one thing in common: the principle of tool-free, layer-by-layer construction of the component on the basis of a three-dimensional CAD model. These processes are used in particular in the implementation of rapid product development in prototype and small series production and, in the area of sinter-based processes, increasingly also in the series production of geometrically complex components.

Casting technology


Fraunhofer IFAM supports industrial customers in the casting technology implementation of an idea from the first prototype to the applicable product. For this purpose, the institute has extensive plant technology for die casting, low-pressure die casting, and investment casting. Aluminum, magnesium, zinc, copper, steel and customer-specific special alloys are processed here. Research focuses on the development of novel core and molding materials (e. g. salt or ceramics) as well as the development of casting applications in the field of alternative drives with the aim of enabling customers to use their products and technologies in a broader range of applications. Another focus is on hybrid casting, which enables cast components with integrated structures to be bonded to other types of materials such as fiber composites or sheet metal and profile structures. By combining this with simulation, simulation models and interface modeling can be built directly parallel to the development of the technologies. Further developments concern the direct integration of sensor structures into cast components as well as requirement-specific solutions for individual and secure component marking.

Printing technology


In industrial production, there is a great need for functional structures to optimize the properties of a wide variety of components. For targeted functionalization, structures can be applied to the required component locations with a precise fit using printing processes. Sensors or electronic components can thus be integrated into existing products and give the component additional or completely new properties.

Supporting technologies


The technology portfolio is rounded off by corresponding supporting technologies. These include, among others, computer simulation and extensive metallography and analytics with a focus on powder characterization and rheology, as well as X-ray fluoroscopy and computer tomography. An important focus is on plant and technical equipment for heat treatment.