Industrialization of Digital Engineering and Additive Manufacturing (IDEA) - Additive manufacturing for serial production




Martin Peterek

Executive Chief Engineer


+49 241 80 27112



Additive manufacturing for serial production

  Man in front of robot arm Copyright: © WZL/Krentz Prof. Dr.-Ing. Robert Schmitt, Holder of the Chair of Production Metrology and Quality Managenemt

The aim of the IDEA project is to reduce the duration and costs of additive manufacturing of complex metal components by 50 percent. The aim of the IDEA project is to reduce the duration and costs of additive manufacturing of complex metal components by 50 percent. Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, offers many advantages. Almost any geometry and even complex structures can be produced without significant additional effort. For example, sophisticated metal components such as turbine blades, transmission or engine parts are produced. At the same time, mass production of individualized products becomes possible.

At present, the individual work steps in the process chain for powder and metal-based 3D printing are often still carried out in isolation. IDEA's goal is to work with 14 partners from industry and science to advance the further industrialization and automation of additive manufacturing.

Challenging manufacturing process

In industrial 3D printing, metal powder is melted layer by layer using laser radiation. Complex metal components are created from up to 8,000 layers, which would otherwise have to be produced using conventional metal processing such as turning, milling or welding. The complete process chain ranges from creating the models on the computer to powder selection, the 3D printing process, quality control, heat treatment and post-processing.

Partners from business and science

The IDEA project partners include the hardware and software suppliers ALLMATIC, BCT, Jenoptik, ModuleWorks and Siemens Digital Industries, the leading solution providers for industrial 3D printing EOS and TRUMPF and the 3D printing users Liebherr-Aerospace, MBFZ toolcraft GmbH, MTU Aero Engines and Siemens Gas and Power. The project receives scientific support from the Fraunhofer Institutes for Laser Technology ILT and for Production Technology IPT and the RWTH Aachen with the Chair of Production Metrology and Quality Management headed by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Robert Schmitt at the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) and the Chair for Digital Additive Production DAP.

Fully integrated, automated production line

The overriding goal of IDEA is the further industrialization of additive manufacturing for the German industry. The best way to accelerate this is with the help of a cross-industry team approach. There is great potential above all in the more efficient coupling of hardware and software. With digital twins of the products to be manufactured, the manufacturing process and the entire production line, a production that has been characterized by manual intervention until now is to become a highly efficient production line. The productivity advantages are to be achieved in particular through the use of consistent data formats, process simulation, the use of a modern production control system and the continuous recording of production data.

After a development and implementation phase, validation is planned for the second half of the project, with the achievement of objectives being measured on the basis of the production of demonstrator components in two pilot lines. The models for industrial production lines will be developed at the Siemens gas turbine plant in Berlin and the MBFZ toolcraft GmbH in Georgensgmünd. The requirements of medium-sized companies as well as large industry will be taken into account and implemented in the additive production lines.

"IDEA represents an outstanding opportunity for my chair to define a quality assurance across all process steps along the entire additive production chain and to implement it exemplarily by means of the pilot lines. A central research goal is to standardize the currently very divergent data handling along the digital chain and thus to enable the use of this data stream. Because only the use of suitable sensor technology allows the comparison of the data from the virtual process chain with the information of the actually manufactured components and thus enables an optimization of the processes, for example in the form of a direct feedback to the individual process steps.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Robert Schmitt, holder of the Chair of Production Metrology and Quality Management at WZL, about the project.

Funding of about 14 million euros

The project is part of the funding initiative "Line Integration of Additive Manufacturing Processes (LAF)" which was launched by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the framework of Photonik Research Germany. The funding amounts to almost 14 million euros. The duration is planned to be over three years.