Better Materials for 3D Laser Printing

DFG Priority Program Extended

© Prof. Jan T. Sehrt / RUB

The starting signal was given in 2018, and now the 2nd round is underway: the German Research Foundation (DFG) is continuing to fund Priority Program (SPP) 2122 "New materials for laser-based additive manufacturing". Over the next three years, laser-based 3D printing and the materials used for it will be further developed to make the process even better. The University Duisburg-Essen (UDE) remains the coordinating university. In total, the DFG is funding 12 projects with around 25 doctoral students.

Fast and precise: Laser-based 3D printing has become established and revolutionized manufacturing technology. Lasers in production are becoming increasingly powerful and brilliant, but the materials available for the necessary processing are often completely inadequate. To this day, additive manufacturing uses metal powders that were developed over 50 years ago for a completely different process. However, in modern laser-based additive processes, these powders lead to process instabilities as well as porosity and defects in the component.

The first funding phase of SPP 2122, coordinated by the UDE and the Center for Nanointegration Duisburg-Essen (CENIDE), therefore focused on the starting materials. The research team developed new materials adapted to the laser-based production process and focused on the synthesis of new metal and polymer powders. This significantly expanded the range of powder materials.

"For the first time, we have succeeded in merging materials development with photonics research," explains SPP spokesperson Prof. Dr. Stephan Barcikowski. The researchers believe that there is considerable potential in targeted materials development for photonic production. It is important here to understand the complete process chain of a product - from powder modification to powder flow properties and powder bed laser printing to microstructural properties - and not just its individual steps.

The participating research groups have published their results from the first funding phase in more than 55 publications and special issues in scientific journals. This coming March, the highlights of the first funding phase will be presented to the public in a bundled form for the first time.

In the coming years, the researchers plan to continue working in cross-project tandems and to tackle joint interlaboratory studies including targeted research data management. In doing so, progress for metal- and polymer-based starting materials in industrialization, standardization, robustness and fundamental understanding along the entire process chain of laser-based 3D printing will be consolidated.