A 3D printed test piece, with supports removed with a wet-chemical process. (Photo courtesy Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.)
A 3D printed test piece, with supports removed with a wet-chemical process. (Photo courtesy Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.)

Five companies, including GKN, have completed a project focused on how to integrate additive manufacturing processes in automobile series production.

Coordinated by automotive company Daimler AG, the AutoAdd project uses the selective laser melting (SLM) metal additive manufacturing (AM) process developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT. The aim was to make it easier for the automotive industry to AM within three years, according to GKN.

The project partners aimed at integrating the laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) process chain in the automotive mass production environment to create a hybrid process chain and help reduce unit costs. They team also developed automatable post-processing concepts, including removal of support structures, and analyzing scalable materials produced by GKN Powder Metallurgy.

Following the project, modular cylinders and the use of wet-chemical immersion baths can now be used to remove, batchwise, components in the post-processing step, helping automative the entire process chain. The AutoAdd project team has also developed common metrics for evaluating LPBF manufacturing equipment and identified them for the most popular equipment manufacturers as part of a large-scale benchmarking exercise.

This story is reprinted from material from GKN, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.