At Formnext, the international trade fair in Frankfurt (November 14-17, Hall 3.1/C38), Heraeus will be exhibiting new industrial applications for high-value metals and alloys in additive manufacturing. Current collaborative activities include the 3i Print Project, which illustrates the full potential of industrial 3D printing for the automobile industry, using the front-end structure of an old VW Caddy as an example. In another project with the Moog company, hydraulic control blocks for robot applications (such as salvage robots) are produced with additive manufacturing techniques. Heraeus supplied and qualified the high-strength aluminum alloy Scalmalloy® for the production of the components. A hydraulic systems application is used as an example to show how additive manufacturing for metals is also on the road toward cost-efficient industrialization and mass production. In this case, a hydraulic servo valve from Bosch Rexroth, a specialist in drive and control technology, was optimized as part of a collaborative project. The machine manufacturer Trumpf, with its competence in industrialization, was also a partner in this project, along with Heraeus, a powder specialist with comprehensive materials knowledge.
State-of-the-art simulation processes for optimal print results
Heraeus experts rely on state-of-the-art simulation processes in order to fully and, above all, efficiently, exhaust the possibilities, and can pre-calculate print results, which makes it possible to determine optimal process parameters. “We can simulate not only the printability of the powders, but also the process windows and printing parameters for our materials. For one thing, we have experts and internally developed software for this purpose. In addition, in the case of ‘difficult’ materials, we can quickly and reliably predict how these can be processed,” explains Tobias Caspari, head of Additive Manufacturing at Heraeus.
The decisive advantage is that additive manufacturing makes it possible to use new materials with new characteristics. These new materials can be evaluated for their suitability without any powder, through simulation. After that, printing processes can be simulated and efficiently developed so that they attain precisely these characteristics. Heraeus is at the forefront in the industrial application of these tools.
Heraeus develops, supplies, and qualifies appropriate powders for the layered construction of components. Materials and process expertise are crucial in this regard, as the metal powders and printing process must be perfectly aligned. “In the marketing of high-quality powders, Heraeus focuses primarily on the aerospace, automobile, and medical technology industries, while also covering the area that we call ‘industrial applications,’” says Tobias Caspari. “In the future, 3D printing will be the process of choice for many areas of technology. In the aerospace and automobile areas, additive manufacturing makes weight savings possible that are not achievable through traditional manufacturing. It is possible to manufacture much lighter and yet stable functional parts with completely new design possibilities. At the same time, we are conserving resources and can recycle excess powder.”