Key Areas of Research

Laser sintered test structures based on repeating hollow sphere geometries
© Fraunhofer IFAM

Laser sintered test structures based on repeating hollow sphere geometries

Metallische Bauteile mit integriertem RFID-Chip
© Fraunhofer IFAM

Metallische Bauteile mit integriertem RFID-Chip

Customer and application oriented development projects are the focus of the work undertaken by Fraunhofer IFAM. The development and qualification of laser melting materials and the improvement and implementation of AM processes belong to the core pillars of our working group.

Material qualification

The infrastructure at Fraunhofer IFAM for laser melting enables comprehensive material qualification and process development. A wide range of materials from light metals such as aluminum and titanium through to hard metals and high melting point alloys are processed and further developed for additive manufacturing

Geometrical freedom

The almost unlimited geometrical freedom of design and manufacture, one unique feature of Additive Manufacturing processes, in conjunction with new design philosophies and simulation techniques offer further opportunities for new products.

The manufacture of components with conformal cooling channels, such as injection molding tools, and also with honeycomb-like structures for flow control is also possible. Internal, repeating shapes to increase the internal surface area – for example for enhancing energy and material exchange in units for heat recovery, filtration and catalysis – can also be produced using this process.

Topology-optimized structures can be simulated and manufactured at Fraunhofer IFAM. The design, simulation, and manufacture of graded cellular structures, with high rigidity and low weight, for components that are subject to mechanical loads can also be undertaken. The processes are based on optimized distributions of different material properties in the component.

RFID integration: Communication for metallic components

The freedom conferred by laser melting allows precision functionalized components to be manufactured which meet high requirements. The process allows the manufacture of individual tools in one step and the integration of new additional functions such as radio frequency identification (RFID).

Metals normally shield electromagnetic fields such as radio waves. When RFID chips are cast in metal, a reading gap must be left above the chip otherwise it cannot be read. For laser melted work pieces this is not necessary. Incorporated RFID chips can transmit and receive over short distances, even if they are completely covered with metal.