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Light metal components from the 3D printer

With the funding commitment for the COMET project "We3D" (Wire-based additive manufacturing – materials and technologies – for 3D metal structures of the future), a comprehensive research project in the field of industrial additive manufacturing has been selected for funding and will now be realized in the next four years. Under the lead of LKR, a broad consortium of research and industrial partners will take wire-based additive manufacturing (WAM) to a new level in the coming years.

Additive manufacturing as the production process of the future

Additive Manufacturing (AM) stands for a new type of manufacturing process in which a component is produced layer by layer based on 3D design data by means of a defined material inform of powders or wires. Compared to the conventional, subtractive approach to component manufacture, the technology has enormous potential, particularly in terms of cost and resource efficiency – especially with regard to the drastic shortening of manufacturing and product development cycles and the reduction of the necessary use of materials.

One process used for the additive manufacturing of metals is the so-called "wire-based additive manufacturing". Here, conventional standard welding equipment is adapted in such a way that component manufacture by direct metal deposition from welding wires is possible at comparatively high build-up rates and theoretically unlimited component size. At the LKR Leichtmetallkompetenzzentrum Ranshofen, both standard aluminium- and magnesium-based welding consumables as well as special process-designed wire-alloys developed and manufactured in-house are processed.

We3D: Next generation additive manufacturing

Wire-based Additive Manufacturing (WAM) is regarded as a key future technology, using welding wires for the layer-by-layer manufacturing of large 3D parts that cannot be produced with powder-based AM technologies in an economic efficient manner. WAM combines the advantages of the latest welding technologies, robot automation, computer-aided design and manufacturing. This means that large 3D components can be produced from new WAM-compatible welding wires made of aluminium and magnesium in a material and energy-saving, high-quality, cost-effective and time-efficient manner.

In the framework of the COMET project "We3D", WAM will now be further developed accordingly: The aim of the research project with a total volume of approximately 5.3 million euros is to further develop the technology for new applications in a wide range of industrial fields, such as the automotive sector, aerospace and mechanical engineering.

Dr. Stephan Ucsnik, Thematic Coordinator and responsible for the project submission at LKR: "With We3D we aim at taking wire-based additive manufacturing to a new level: with innovative wire materials, novel process, sensor and control technologies and validated software tools for process simulation. We are thus opening up completely new fields of application for this manufacturing process in the aerospace, oil & gas, automotive and railway sectors. Through the further development of WAM, with We3D we are making a decisive contribution to a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate-neutral economy – in line with the goals of the European Green Deal for 2050".


COMET: Cooperation between industry and research for the technologies of tomorrow

The COMET Competence Projects for Excellent Technologies programme promotes the establishment of competence centres, the core of which is a high-level research programme jointly defined by business and science. This should provide new research impulses, lead to increased technology transfer and strengthen the innovative capacity of participating companies, resulting in new product, process and service innovations. In this sense, COMET is an essential factor in strengthening Austria as a research and business location.

The COMET programme is funded by the Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK) and the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs (BMDW), and in the case of We3D by the federal provinces of Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Styria, Vienna and 16 business partners. COMET has been a constant success since 2008. It is managed by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG.