Project examples of the research topic Materials

© Fraunhofer IWU

Process development for additive multi-material fabrication

extension of the known laser-beam-melting-process with a paste-extrusion-process

© Fraunhofer IFAM

Comparison of 3DP and Metal Injection Molding (MIM)

Printing of demonstrators from 17-4 PH and Ferro-Titanit® as well as comparison of the achieved material properties with properties of MIM parts

© Fraunhofer IPK

µForm - Additive manufacturing of form electrodes made of cemented carbide (WC/Co)

Material-analysis and optimization of the manufacturing parameters Selective Laser Melting

© Fraunhofer IWS

Multimaterial processing via additive manufacturing - MultiBeAM

The complex market conditions in the high-technology sector require a constant performance increase and better efficiency at the same time.

© Fraunhofer IWM

New materials for Selective Laser Sintering

Selective laser sintering (SLS) produces components with the best material properties from all the 3D-printing technologies for polymers.

© Fraunhofer IGB

Printable Biomaterials

The Fraunhofer IGB provides R&D in the field of hydrogels and particle formulations for use in printing systems.

© Fraunhofer EMI

Design of Functional Materials - exemplified by pantographic structuring

Functional materials enable the selective fulfillment of increased material requirements.

© Fraunhofer IGCV

Heat treatment strategies for LBM

Laser melting leads to a rapid solidification, individual melt lines are recognizable. Different heat treatment parameters result from different dissolution and precipitation behavior

© Fraunhofer IGB

Additive production of artificial tissues

The Fraunhofer IGB provides formulation of biomaterials based on hydrogels of the natural tissue matrix for bioprinting applications.

© Fraunhofer IGCV

Space Applications: Platinum-Rhodium Alloy

Additive manufacturing offers new potential for the implementation of functionally optimized designs

© Fraunhofer IFAM

Process development for additive multi-material fabrication: Electro Beam Melting

Verification of processability of TiAl alloy (RNT650) by EBM

From material to component with system

Materials research provides answers to current questions in the fields of energy, health, mobility, information and communication technologies, construction and housing. Modern lightweight construction materials save costs and energy, ceramic micro fuel cells supply electronic devices, and new materials made from renewable resources help to protect the environment.

In the field of additive manufacturing, the institutes of the Competence Field focus on the development of new materials, technology-specific material adaptation and production as well as the generation of desired product properties with the following materials:

  • metals: steels, titanium and aluminum
  • ceramics: oxides, carbides, silicates and bioactive ceramics
  • Plastics: polymers and thermoplastic materials 

In addition, the Fraunhofer Competence Field Additive Manufacturing offers you individually adapted materials for your applications, individual processes and entire process chains - also considering conventional technologies.

More information

Ceramic materials and their composition

Components made of ceramic materials can be produced by all common additive processes, even from dense and porous ceramics, as current R&D projects show. With the exception of selective laser sintering, additive manufacturing is followed by a conventional thermal process for debinding and sintering. The additive manufacturing of ceramics serves particularly for the production of functional components in form of prototypes, small series or individual construction units. In comparison to polymers and metals, the production of ceramics is more challenging with respect to material and technology. The choice of materials depends on the respective requirements of the desired application: In addition to oxide ceramics (e.g. Al2O3, ZrO2), nitrides (e.g. Si3N4, AlN), carbides (e.g. SiC, TiC), silicate ceramic components (e.g. cordierite, porcelain) or bioactive ceramics (Ca-phosphates) as well as ceramic components can be produced by additive manufacturing from composite materials or with a graded material structure.

Current developments

Shaped body made of bioactive ceramics

Using 3D powder printing processes, complex shaped, individual components are manufactured from hydroxyapatite (HAP). The prerequisites for the generation of HAP mouldings are the modification of the starting powder and the adaptation of the binder system or the hydraulic fluid. After sintering, the printed ceramics can be used as bioactive implants. The application-relevant shaped bodies in Figures 1 and 2 prove the efficiency of this generative process for the production of complex three-dimensional hydroxyapatite structures for bioactive implants. Channels and macropores can be realized by the printing process, while the microporosity can be adjusted by the starting powder and the sintering conditions. In the same way as for HAP, bioactive ceramic bodies can be produced from other calcium phosphates.

3DP-HAP 3DP-HAP mandibles
Figure 1 Figure 2

Strength increase with laser-sintered SiC

A process chain is used for the SiSiC material, in which the shaped body is generated from the powder bed by selective laser sintering and the SiSiC material structure is then produced by pyrolysis and infiltration steps. As with all generative processes, laser sintering requires that the achievable material properties of the ceramics must withstand a critical comparison with the properties achieved with conventional manufacturing processes. If SiC starting powder mixtures adapted to the specific process are used and carbon powder is also added, then the material properties (strength, modulus of elasticity) that can be achieved with the above-mentioned process chain via laser sintering are at the same level as those achieved with conventional processes. This process and material development is the basis for the production of application-relevant SiC components by means of laser sintering.

Tool insert for plastic injection moulding

Internal cooling channels and a complex structured surface characterize an injection molding tool insert made of SiSiC, which was manufactured with selective laser sintering (SLS). The SiSiC ceramic does not shrink during the manufacturing process, so that high contour accuracy is achieved without reworking. A combination of the classic SLS process and laser microsintering (in cooperation with the Mittweida University of Applied Sciences) enables a hybrid construction of the component. Areas of the tool surface can be generated with a small layer thickness in such a way that they have a high surface quality, high strength and detail accuracy. The basic body, on the other hand, can be built up with greater layer thicknesses in a cost- and time-saving manner. The ceramic tool insert for the injection moulding of plastics is characterised by its high wear resistance and long service life.

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Manufacturing processes of ceramic materials

The institutes of the Competence Field develop powder-based manufacturing processes for ceramic components and systems. In the lab and on testing facilities we work out prototypical solutions, produce small series and, if necessary, transfer it into pilot technology.

The benefit ranges from the processing of powders and raw materials to shaping, sintering, processing in green and sintered states as well as joining and integration techniques. In addition to direct additive manufacturing processes, shaping technologies such as powder injection moulding or vacuum casting are used in combination with rapid prototyping process chains.


Laser sintering of ceramic materials

Regarding laser sintering from powder bed, the Competence Field Additive Manufacturing, focuses on the development of functional patterns for selected ceramic materials as well as process and material feasibility studies. Laser sintering is particularly qualified for ceramic materials that can be further compacted after additive manufacturing by reaction sintering or glass infiltration.

Adapted process parameters enable the production of functional prototypes with high form accuracy and dimensional accuracy. The example of the SiSiC material shows, that the material properties of laser-sintered ceramic components can be on the same high level as those of conventionally produced ceramics.


Three-dimensional printing technology (3D printing) for ceramic materials

For 3D printing from the powder bed, we develop suitable binders as well as printing fluids and condition ceramic powders for the printing process. Process and material developments aim at the production of complex shaped bodies, which, after sintering, have a dense or porous material structure depending on the application requirements.

An innovative process and plant concept using highly dispersed ceramic suspensions will open up new application potential for 3D printing technology and produce dense ceramics with excellent material properties.



Polymeric Materials

Polymer materials are used as photopolymers for stereolithographic processes, as extrusion material for 3D printing or in powder form for processing with laser sintering processes. All additive manufacturing processes have in common, that the choice of materials for the user is severely restricted compared with the material variety in injection molding. These are often highly specialized materials. The specific properties of these materials make processing even possible, i.e. in the laser sintering process. Therefore, developments concentrate on the one hand on making further materials accessible for processes and on the other hand on further developing the processes with the aim use standard polymers in future.

Polymers for Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

The process of selective laser sintering enables additive manufacturing of polymer components with properties similar to components produced by injection-molding. It is therefore an important process for functional components. The materials are used here as fine powders. Although the process is already established, the range of materials is severely limited; polyamides are mainly used. In addition to natural-colored standard powders, modified types are available, which - for example - have a higher flame resistance (used in the electronics industry) or have elastic properties in order to approximate the material behavior of other polymers.

Current developments

New materials for the SLS process

Current developments in the field of selective laser sintering are concerned with the development of further polymer materials for this process. The market demands "authentic" materials. So far, the mechanical properties of polyamide powders have been modified in order to simulate the material sensitivities of other polymers. Developments focus on so-called commodities, such as polyolefins, which promise to enter the mass market. At the same time, high-performance technical polymers are being tested that can be processed with standard machines on the market. In addition to powder technology parameters, the rheology of the polymers, the kinetics of the melting and crystallization process and the energy input have to be optimized.

Bionic manufacturing

Additive manufacturing processes are characterized by the fact, that components are formed layer by layer. There are therefore analogies to natural growth processes of biological materials such as bone, tooth enamel and mother-of-pearl. In spite of the limited supply of materials, nature enables a variety of material properties that are often superior to technical systems. This is achieved by selective modifications and hierarchical structuring of the materials. A current research project aims to transfer these principles to additive manufacturing processes. For this purpose, methods of selective laser sintering are combined with printing techniques.

New processes for the preparation of fine polymer powders

Polymer powders available on the market today are produced using complex precipitation processes. Few materials are produced mechanically by cryogenic comminution processes. An economically and technically promising process is the high-pressure melt spraying process, in which the polymers in the molten state are atomized under the influence of supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) into fine spherical powders. In a current research project, the process is being developed and polymer powders are being tested in application.

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Special materials - creative down to the smallest detail

Thermoplastics and natural materials such as wood and leather can be tailored to new applications, environmental aspects, novel or improved properties. By equipping them with additive, functional nano- and microparticles, microcapsules and hollow microspheres or hydrogels, a wide range of functions can be implemented.

Based on customer-specific requirements, the latest results of materials research or natural models, the institutes of the competence field develop strategies for new materials and test their industrial feasibility under ecological and economic aspects.

Metallic Materials - Powder Technology

Laser beam melting is a direct manufacturing process in which the desired parts are produced in a single-stage process in metallic series material. After completion of the laser beam melting process, the components can only be freed from unmelted powder material and - depending on the component geometry and orientation of the components in the installation space - from any supporting structures. The range of materials that can be processed includes stainless and tool steel, aluminum, titanium, cobalt-chrome or nickel-based alloys. On request, the development and qualification of further material systems according to customer requirements is also possible.

Processable materials  
Tool steel (1,2709) for the production of tool and mold components as well as highly stressed components
Stainless steel (1.4414) for the production of acid and rust-resistant components or tool components for pre-series tools
Titanium (TiAl6V4) for the manufacture of lightweight components, e.g. for aerospace applications, and medical technology applications, e.g. implants
Aluminium (AlSi10Mg, AlSi12) Powder material that can be used under high mechanical and dynamic loads and is therefore ideally suited for the construction of technical prototypes or small series made of aluminum
Nickel-base alloy (IN718) for the manufacture of heat-resistant components in the power generation and aerospace industries
Cobalt chrome for the production of dental prostheses and medical implants


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Three-dimensional printing technology (3D printing) for metallic materials

Powder Technology

Powdery materials are the starting material for the manufacture of an extremely diverse range of technical products and consumer goods.

The institutes of the competence field develop technologies and process chains for the production, modification and processing of powders into complex components. The work is aimed in particular at the cost-effective integration of functions in components and structures. The solutions are used in many industries.

Three-dimensional printing technology (3D printing) for metallic materials

This approach to extend 3D printing technology to the metal sector has not yet established itself on the market. Nevertheless, niche applications are conceivable, in which the advantages of 3D printing can be applied profitably - in particular the possibility of doing without supporting structures. In addition, 3D printing can still be of interest where, for example, special materials cannot yet be processed using the laser melting process.

Laser Beam Melting

The production of metallic components using laser beam melting technology enables the institutes of the competence field to show their industrial partners new ways in the development and production of innovative components. Laser beam melting technology belongs to the group of additive manufacturing processes. The components are built up ("generated") in layers directly based on
3D CAD data from powdery serial materials. The powder is completely melted locally by a laser and after solidification; the dense structure lays by 99.5 to 100 percent. Due to the layered, tool-free structure of the components, this process offers almost unlimited design and constructional freedom. Thus enables the production of any complex geometries and structures from metallic materials. The applications of laser beam melting are manifold, from the manufacture of original and forming tools with near-contour cooling channels to the production of highly complex and highly stressed components and the manufacture of patient-specific implants.