Whether engines for vehicles or airplanes and rockets: such technical constructions consist of a multitude of highly specialized metal components. To ensure that everything fits together exactly and can withstand even the toughest loads, each individual part must be perfectly formed. "The tolerances required can be in the micrometer range," explains Professor Dirk Bähre from Saarland University. With 3D printing processes for metals, it is possible today to produce rather complex components. But what comes out of the printer layer by layer in additive manufacturing is often not sufficiently accurate to meet the highest demands. For some geometries, the 3D printing process simply reaches its limits.
Dirk Bähre and his team are researching how to refine the workpieces from the 3D printer so that they fit exactly to the thousandth of a millimeter. "With our technologies for finishing metal parts manufactured using additives, we can cost-effectively produce precision functional surfaces for high-precision applications. Even high volumes can be produced economically," he explains. The basis for this high accuracy is provided by novel processes in which the researchers combine metallic 3D printing with electrochemical ablation.