"The industry is looking for ever more and ever different materials that are often difficult to process," emphasizes Prof. Frank Brückner, Business Unit Manager Generation and Printing at the Fraunhofer IWS. One example of this is aircraft engines: they could work hotter and more efficiently if the materials could withstand temperatures of around 1200 degrees and more. Although there are materials that can withstand such high temperatures, they are more expensive and difficult to process using traditional methods. Additive manufacturing is intended to solve this dilemma. Using laser powder deposition welding, we can bring different powders into the process zone simultaneously or successively with precisely adjustable feed rates," explains Michael Müller. Designing an entire component from a single material is not very effective because the component is not exposed to the same heat at all points. "It would be better to use the expensive, highly stressable material only where it gets really hot," says project administrator Michael Müller from Fraunhofer IWS.
In other places, a cheaper material would be sufficient. This is precisely what can be achieved with additive production systems - once they have learned to process the required superalloys. "In the next step, we want to combine various high-performance materials within a single component," announces project administrator Müller. In the futureAM joint project, the IWS and five other Fraunhofer Institutes are bringing this and other know-how together to take additive manufacturing to a new level. By summer 2020, they want to integrate all this expertise into the additive manufacturing process chain and demonstrate it on tangible components.