With the Fraunhofer lead project futureAM, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is systematically advancing the further development of additive manufacturing of metallic components! Six experienced institutes in the field of additive manufacturing have entered into a strategic project partnership for this purpose.

The aim of the Fraunhofer IAPT in the project is to drive forward the digitization of additive manufacturing along the entire process chain with the help of Industry 4.0 technologies. The main objectives are:

AutoPartIO: Digital Pre-Processing

  • Automation of component selection regarding AM potential
  • Automation of component optimization through an expandable toolbox

Digital quality assurance

  • Assessment of component quality in the form of expected service life based on data from process monitoring
  • Development of a tool for lifetime prediction based on component-specific defects and knowledge of the requirements

Networked process chain based on a digital twin


  • Digital reproduction of the physical process chain with the help of special data models
  • Complete traceability and transparency in the digital process chain

AutoPartIO: Digital Pre-Processing

© Fraunhofer IAPT

The aim is to develop an expandable toolbox for the simulation and optimization of AM components. First, the topology optimization is implemented fundamentally mathematically. In addition to the classical goal of stiffness optimization for lightweight construction, bionic elements, heat transport and fluid mechanical problems are also considered. 

Bionics and functions

© Fraunhofer IAPT
Substitution durch Bionische Elemente mit Hilfe von Topologieoptimierung

Bionic elements can generate additional positive effects compared to classical topology optimization. In order to make such basic bionic forms usable, they must be identified and parameterized. It is purposeful to substitute areas of the same load type by suitable bionic features.

The technical abstraction of the biological model and its parametric optimization lays the foundation for this substitution. In this way, the full lightweight construction potential of bionic shaping is exploited.


Restrictions and topology

In the established topology optimization, process-, material- and plant-specific peculiarities and restrictions of additive manufacturing are not yet sufficiently considered. New multifunctional objective functions are being developed to ensure direct 3D printability.

Computer-Aided-Function Modul

© Fraunhofer IAPT
Substitution durch Bionische Elemente mit Hilfe von Topologieoptimierung

Furthermore, the collected software modules are to be made available to the user in a graphical user interface, so that the user can use the advantages and make an assessment of potential without extensive knowledge of AM. This is summarised in the term Computer-Aided Design (CAD) under the term Computer-Aided Function (CAF). To achieve this goal, the tasks were first specified and the functions to be implemented were worked out. For this purpose, technical applications such as active and passive heat sinks, heat exchangers and flow bodies such as the Venturi nozzle and the Mewis nozzle of a ship's propeller. Furthermore, the above-mentioned parameterized bionic features and topology optimization are to be implemented, taking into account process- and material-specific restrictions. In order to calibrate the material characteristics and restrictions to a plant-process-material combination, a set of test specimens (CAF-Development Kit) will be compiled, with the help of which the relevant characteristics can be determined.