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Industrial 3D printing for modern machine and handling systems - Potential and solutions

: Gorn, M.; Cerwenka, G.; Gralow, M.; Emmelmann, C.


Journal of laser applications : JLA 31 (2019), Nr.2, Art. 022309
ISSN: 1042-346X
ISSN: 1938-1387
Fraunhofer IAPT ()

Parts manufactured by laser beam melting (LBM) are about to break through prototype status and into industrial applications, especially in the medical technology and aviation industries. Machine and handling systems (MHSs) have not yet benefited from the numerous advantages of this disruptive manufacturing method on a broader scale, although conditions appear promising for implementation. Certification and approval processes often require less time and costs for MHSs than for other industry branches, which promotes rapid implementation of LBM. In the future, modern MHSs will perform more specialized, diverse, and complex tasks, even going beyond industrial applications and entering the private use market, e.g., through household assisting robots. In Sec. I, an insight into the requirements and challenges in the context of existing manufacturing and use restrictions of MHSs is given. Furthermore, Sec. I briefly introduces the LBM process and its benefits and restrictions. In Sec. II, the concepts of lightweight construction, functional integration, and a high degree of design freedom reveal potential for the design and redesign of novel product solutions for current and future applications. Exemplarily, a 6-axis robot is being examined with regard to industrial LBM production. Suitable subcomponents will be identified. Possible solutions for the previously mentioned fields are described in Sec. III. In order to determine achievable weight savings and to allow masses to be more dynamic, conventional designs are compared with developed topology-optimized components. Additionally, feature integration allows MHS manufacturing steps to be reduced. An integral design is being studied to minimize the number of machine parts used. Biomimetic approaches are used to reduce interference contours. This is of great importance for preventive personal protection in human–machine interaction (HMI) in order to expand the range of applications of modern MHSs. Furthermore, modal properties are specifically adapted. Lattice and hybrid LBM construction methods are also being considered. Accumulated in-depth knowledge of industrial LBM, lightweight construction, functional integration, design flexibility in mass customization, and also HMI topics for MHSs are summarized. An outlook is given on further applications and future approaches for industrialization.