Additive functionalisation is multifaceted and ranges from printing local stiffening ribs to integrating assembly and adhesive aids to introducing electrical conductors into the component. The basic structure of the component can be produced using an established process, such as tape laying for the production of large-area structures. Using fibre-reinforced 3D printing (short and continuous fibre-reinforced, SFR/CFR), the component is functionalised according to its requirements. This combination of different manufacturing processes and materials enables the cost- and time-efficient production of resilient as well as individualised lightweight structures.
DLR Innovation Lab EmpowerAX strengthens accessibility to the industrial process chain
Various process modules are needed to implement additive functionalisation. In addition to the design and simulation, the preparation also includes the material selection and the definition of the CAM interface through the path planning for printing. The next step is the additive functionalisation itself, e.g. by printing stiffening ribs. This is followed by quality testing using suitable measuring methods and non-desctructive testing (NDT). Established suppliers of the process chain are ready to implement additive functionalisation on the market.
The team behind the DLR Innovation Lab EmpowerAX has set itself the task of making this process chain and the associated technologies accessible to the wider industry. To this end, the team identifies use cases for fibre-reinforced 3D printing in so-called Use Case Challenges and carries out a preliminary feasibility assessment.
But how can the barriers to entry to the technology itself and the associated infrastructure for industrial application be lowered?
The Innovation Lab team discussed this with the partner network behind EmpowerAX at the EmpowerAX Days on 4 and 5 October 2022.The result of this collaborative discussion process: The EmpowerAX demo part on the topic “Additive Functionalization: Demonstration of an industrial process chain for local reinforcement”, which will be exhibited at the JEC in Paris in April 2023.
The EmpowerAX Demo Component- Additive Functionalisation of a Multi-Curved Shell
The EmpowerAX demo component is a collaborative project between DLR and ten players in the industrial process chain for additive functionalisation. It consists of a multi-curved base structure with a functionalised cover bead, which was classically laid and manufactured using an infusion process. The basic structure is derived from an aviation application. A landing at a speed of around 360 km/h per hour with simultaneous front and side winds was therefore taken as the load case as the design requirement.
In order for this multi-curved shell to withstand the demands of its final application, local stiffening is necessary. This is done with the help of a rib structure designed for the load case, which is subsequently applied using robotic 3D printing with short-fibre reinforced high-performance thermoplastic (SFRP). This is then stiffened again at certain points with a continuous fibre-reinforced high-performance thermoplastic (CFRP). EmpowerAX partners along the entire process chain of additive functionalisation are involved in the implementation.
Industry partners’ contributions to the EmpowerAX Additive Functionalisation Demo Component for JEC 2023
We realise the printing of the stiffening ribs in a co-working process at WEBER, whereby the short-fibre reinforced ribs were printed on using robotic 3D printing in less than an hour.
In the next step, the rib structure of the EmpowerAX demo part will be selectively reinforced using high-precision CNC robotics at DLR. This will be followed by non-destructive testing by FILL and the printing of supports and fixtures to attach the demo component to the presentation stand using fibre-reinforced materials by FIBERTHREE.
You want to experience additive functionalisation live? Meet our EmpowerAX team and examine our EmpowerAX demo part at the JEC in Hall 6, Stand S28 from 25 – 27 April 2023 in Paris. In addition to our EmpowerAX demo part, you will also find our DLR Fused Bonding Demonstrator on the topic of “Reliable bonding due to reactive surfaces” at our booth.