3D printing is one of the so-called generative manufacturing processes, also named additive manufacturing (AM), which are developing into a new core technology of product manufacturing. In principle, this involves the layered construction of components. The process is already available for a wide range of materials such as plastics, resins, ceramics and metals, which ensures a versatile application.
Due to the new manufacturing possibilities offered by AM, it is possible to realize products that are not creatable with existing, conventional processes. This advantage favours above all the design, as well as the functionality and performance of products.
Particularly innovative is the freedom in shaping and design. Curved surfaces and curved elements can be produced without any problems. In contrast to conventional methods, these are associated with an enormous amount of effort, many work steps and a large number of required tools.
In addition, the potential of hollow structures can be fully exploited, since they can be adapted to local loads at specific points, and can thus be individually designed for a product-dependent load case. These optimized grid structures for stiffening a component are generated and optimized using algorithms developed specifically for this purpose.
However, AM does not only fit perfectly into the repertoire of the ELiSE concept due to the realization of the above-mentioned grid and hollow structures, but also the unique possibility to apply and manufacture complex, bionically developed structures clearly speaks for the use of generative manufacturing processes. Thus, the efficiency between lightweight construction and stability of a product can be significantly increased.
Additional advantages are offered by the high speed of production through 3D printing. Demonstrators and first small series can be produced quickly on site, called rapid prototyping, which can be used for customer presentations and similar illustrative purposes.