News and Media

futureAM Lighthouse Project

Next Generation Additive Manufacturing

Project term:
From 2017-7-1 to 2020-6-30

On this page you find news about the futureAM Lighthouse Project and downloads.


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  • The Fraunhofer Lighthouse project futureAM was launched in 2017 with the aim of accelerating the additive manufacturing (AM) of metal components by at least a factor of 10. Activities focused on a holistic view of digital and physical value creation from order entry to the finished metallic 3D printed component, and on the leap into a new technology generation of AM. The project partners defined the four fields of action for these goals: Industry 4.0 and digital process chain, scalable and robust AM processes, materials and system technology/automation. This video presents the project results.

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  • Novel LPBF machine concept for Additive Manufacturing of large components Conventional systems for Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) are limited in size. When increasing the usable build-volume, the challenge is to realize a homogeneous shielding gas flow over the entire powder bed. In addition, an increase in productivity is necessary in order to be able to use such systems economically. To meet these challenges, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT has developed a novel LPBF machine concept (size: 1000 x 800 x 350 mm³) for the production of large components as part of the Fraunhofer lighthouse project futureAM.

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  • At Fraunhofer IWS in Dresden, the applicable spectrum of additive processable materials is extended. With tailored direct energy deposition metallic multi-material components can be realized.
    © Fraunhofer, Germany.

    Accelerating the additive production of metal components by at least a factor of 10: With this goal in mind, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft launched the lighthouse project “futureAM – Next Generation Additive Manufacturing” in 2017. As the project ends in November 2020, six Fraunhofer institutes have made technological leaps forward in systems engineering, materials and process control as well as end-to-end digitalization, thus increasing the performance and cost-effectiveness of metal-based additive manufacturing along the entire process chain.

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  • High-power diode lasers exhibit interesting properties for use in Additive Manufacturing. However, due to their comparably low beam quality, diode lasers are challenging to integrate into conventional scanner-based LPBF machines. As part of the Fraunhofer lighthouse project “futureAM” a LPBF machine setup combining an industrial high-power diode lasers, a galvanometer scanner and a custom f-theta lens was developed and validated for the processing of stainless steel (AISI 316L). This approach yields comparable part properties and machine productivity as conventional fibre laser based LPBF-Systems.

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  • In the scope of the Fraunhofer lighthouse project futureAM, scientists from Fraunhofer ILT have developed an enhanced processing strategy for Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF). A multi-scanner processing head with five laser-scanner-systems was integrated into Fraunhofer ILT’s prototype LPBF machine with a maximum build envelope of 1000 mm x 800 mm x 500 mm. In order to increase the system’s productivity, a synchronized movement of the galvanometer scanners and the linear axis system was realized enabling on-the-fly processing.

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  • Digitally united: In the futureAM project, the Virtual Lab serves as a digital bracket for all four fields of activity.
    © Fraunhofer IAPT, Hamburg, Germany.

    In the Fraunhofer lighthouse project “futureAM – Next Generation Additive Manufacturing,” an alliance of six Fraunhofer institutes shall accelerate 3D printing with metal powder by at least a factor of ten. The first tangible results prove that this is not a dream of the future. The futureAM team will be presenting these results at the joint Fraunhofer booth D51 in Hall 11 during formnext from November 19 to 22, 2019 in Frankfurt am Main.

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  • Additive machines discover superalloys

    Press Release / May 17, 2019

    By means of laser powder build-up welding, components made of different materials can be integrally manufactured. Thus, specific materials can be placed exactly where their properties are required. This offers, for example, the prospect of lighter, better and cost-reduced blades for gas turbines.
    © Fraunhofer IWS, Dresden, Germany.

    Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS in Dresden have developed innovative methods enabling more materials to be processed in additive manufacturing than ever before. For example, additive manufacturing systems could facilitate better future aircraft engines with lower fuel consumption. However, engineers must first improve the current industrial 3D printers in such a way that these machines can also process very strong and extremely heat-resistant alloys. Here, the Dresden researchers rely on their profound experience with laser powder buildup welding technologies and employ artificial intelligence (AI). They contribute their profound materials expertise to the Fraunhofer joint project “futureAM”. The aim of the partners is to speed up additive manufacturing systems for metal components by a factor ten and also to manage superalloys.

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  • In the scope of the Fraunhofer lighthouse project futureAM, Scientists from Fraunhofer ILT have developed a scalable machine concept for Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) of large metal components. A new mobile processing laser head is used in this system, which also offers a very large, effectively usable build volume (1000 mm x 800 mm x 500 mm). Thus, productivity can be increased by a factor of 10 compared to conventional LPBF systems. The video shows excerpts from an LPBF process in the new system.

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  • The future of 3D printing will be the focus at formnext 2018 in Frankfurt am Main. For this, the Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project futureAM offers particularly exciting insights, a project in which six Fraunhofer institutes are involved. The partners are doing both, comprehensively looking at digital and physical added value right from the order to the finished component; and at the leap into a new technology generation of additive manufacturing.

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