Machinery & Tooling

In recent decades, advances in image and graphic processing have changed medical imaging into something far beyond traditional, two-dimensional visualization. Special software approved for medical applications can be used to turn a group of two-dimensional images into a virtual 3D model, and adapt the geometry in line with requirements. This results in specifically adapted 3D models that can be used as
a blueprint for producing medical structures by means of additive manufacturing. Additive processes provide innovative solutions for your medical applications. The elimination of design restrictions makes it possible to produce geometrically complex parts for individual patients. Besides implants, increasing numbers of medical tools and demonstration models are also being made. These are suitable for preoperative planning and intraoperative visualization, while also simplifying communication with the patient. As a result, the operation can be planned in detail beforehand, significantly reducing the actual operating time. Tools made for individual patients by means of additive manufacturing allow surgeons to perform precise operative procedures such as bone transplants and reconstructive surgery. Patient-specific spare parts and implants made from a wide range of materials can be quickly produced thanks to additive manufacturing.

Additive manufacturing in hydraulics

© Fraunhofer IAPT

When designing hydraulic parts, the key constraints in the past were minimizing the volume of metal removed by cutting (and thus also minimizing costs) and taking into consideration production restrictions. Completely new approaches to design can be taken with additive manufacturing. One successful example of this is the hydraulic manifold designed and produced at Fraunhofer IAPT. The corresponding design with homogenous junctions and variable channel sections reduces pressure losses by over 40 percent and the weight of the part by 80 percent. This not only results in benefits at part level, but also improves the performance of the system as a whole,

Additive tools for EPP processing

© Hofmann

A revolutionary tool concept for processing expanded polypropylene has been developed by project partners Werkzeugbau Siegfried Hofmann GmbH, WSVK GmbH & Co.KG, and Fraunhofer IAPT as part of the LaEPPFo (laser additiveproduced EPP mold) project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). Traditionally, tools used for processing EPP have been produced by machining an aluminum base, subsequently incorporating steam nozzles, and creating the desired surface structure. It has now been possible to combine these steps using additive manufacturing. The mold was created, the steam nozzles were optimally positioned, and the surface structure was directly integrated during CAD modeling. With the subsequent heat treatment, the CAD model was turned into the finished tool  with an integrated steam chamber. No further machining was necessary and the tool could be immediately used. This resulted in a 97 percent reduction in steam consumption and an almost
50 percent reduction in the cycle time – increasing productivity while also saving a huge amount of energy.


Additive manufacturing of spare parts

Machine construction involves very long product life cycles. Efficient spare parts management is therefore of the utmost importance for being able to supply customers with the necessary spare parts at all times without tying up large amounts of capital in stored parts or risking considerable downtime. It has been possible, for instance, to deliver a quality-assured individual machine part after just 12 days instead of several months. The original part design was directly adopted and all manufacturing tolerances were met. Integrating additive manufacturing into spare parts management can open up completely new avenues, leading to a profitable aftersales market.