Metal-based additive manufacturing technology for professional applications

metal-based additive manufacturing

Metal-based additive manufacturing is one of the most complex and impressive production processes in the world. The technology of so-called metallic 3D printing is gaining importance in the industrial field. Recently 3D fab+print spoke with Mr Gregor Graf and Mr Stefan Ritt from SLM Solutions about this and many other topics.

As a machine manufacturer, SLM Solutions Group AG has a leading position in its industry. The powerful metal-based additive manufacturing technology of SLM Solutions Group AG is one of the leading 3D printing technologies. The SLM machines are used in many industrial areas and applications.

The SLM process is currently used most extensively in the aerospace and medical areas, as well as in the automotive and energy sectors, where numerous fields of application are already being identified. The way of manufacturing metal parts in an additive layer-building process creates new possibilities with regard to geometrical freedom, such as the production of internal cooling channels or undercuts.

“The production of additives has enormous potential.”

Since these geometries are beyond the traditional manufacturing methods, the unprecedented freedom of design flexibility opens up completely new business opportunities. For example, the energy sector benefits from new designs that reduce component weight and are more cost-efficient with regard to material consumption than the subtractive manufacturing methods. The SLM process for example has brought a new approach for the use of conforming cooling channels installed in components that are used in heat exchangers and turbine generator systems.

This is a freedom of geometry that not only improves on-site system performance, but also allows engineers to design each component for maximum performance regardless of existing manufacturing constraints.

Combined expertise for industrial manufacturing

SLM Solutions is continuously working to expand its excellence, among other things, in the energy sector. In this context, the company from Northern Germany depends on the cooperation with experienced partners, such as the medium-sized family-owned company Rosswag GmbH, the largest industrial open-die forge in Southern Germany, with the divisions Edelstahl Rosswag and Rosswag Engineering.

Experiences are exchanged to develop engineering services and innovative manufacturing processes for the industrial use of additive manufacturing in combination with many different materials and the classic processing technology of forging.

“The metal-based additive manufacturing is still a young technology. However, in only fifteen years of research and development, this technology has established itself for applications even in large production environments.”

“The production of additives has enormous potential,” says Stefan Ritt, VP-Head of global marketing and Communications at SLM Solutions Group AG. “The metal-based additive manufacturing is still a young technology. However, in only fifteen years of research and development, this technology has established itself for applications even in large production environments.”

Mr Ritt continues to tell that this type of manufacturing of metal parts in a powder bed fusion process offers new possibilities to produce geometries that were previously not possible, such as internal cooling channels or undercuts: “The paradigm shift in metal processing continues in companies, since the philosophy of free geometry is increasingly contributing to the integration of additive manufacturing designs into production. In addition,” Mr Ritt continues, “the connection with the classic manufacturing technologies provides further application-optimized solutions.”

Gregor Graf, Head of Engineering of Rosswag GmbH adds: “The combination of the two production processes – forging and selective laser melting – creates new products which can be produced efficiently through the innovative process chain despite high complexity.”

The company is addressing the existing constraints of the two manufacturing processes and pursuing the goal of optimizing the process chain, thus increasing the efficiency of manufacturing certain components. “This is done by combining the positive properties of the two manufacturing processes in the respective geometry elements,” Mr. Graf states.

To receive the full interview, please contact Jolanda Heunen .