At the beginning of 2022, the DLR Innovation Lab EmpowerAX reached an important milestone in terms of collaboration and technology transfer in the field of fibre-reinforced 3D printing with the signing of a multilateral cooperation agreement by 23 partners of different sizes and from different industries. In order to implement the joint technology transfer after the time dominated by online meetings, all partners finally came together in an extraordinary location on 4 and 5 October 2022.
Fibre-reinforced 3D printing in research and industry – A common status quo
At the DLR Innovation Lab EmpowerAX, everything revolves around the topic of fibre-reinforced 3D printing in industry and research. This still young technology makes it possible to produce components that are as light as plastic but as strong as metal. These properties find optimal application in a wide variety of areas, such as aerospace, medical technology and also in mobility applications such as electric motorbikes.
Since the launch of EmpowerAX in May 2020, a lot has happened in the field of fibre-reinforced 3D printing – from initiating the network to co-working on the 3D printing robot and designing joint projects. In addition, the Innovation Lab has already identified use cases, validated simulations and brought the Institute of System Lightweight Design’s 3D printing infrastructure up to industry standard. To further drive this progress, the team behind EmpowerAX asked the following questions:
- Where do we stand in research and industrial application?
- What are the successful use cases?
- And which topics will be relevant in the context of fibre-reinforced 3D printing in the future?
Professional exchange during the breaks at the exhibition stands of the partners from industry and research in the DLR CFK Wing Lab.
Key players in fibre-reinforced 3D printing visit DLR
At the EmpowerAX Days on 4 + 5 October 2022, the members of the Innovation Lab addressed these questions together with Composite United e.V., potential technology users and other important players in the industry. The location underlined the usefulness of the discussion: on the left a 3D printing robot, on the right the carbon rib structure of an aircraft wind turbine and at the front of the stage exciting presentations on the current state of fibre-reinforced 3D printing in industry and research. During the breaks, the 60 or so participants were able to admire the current activities of the players in this field in the exhibition and talk to them. From suppliers for aircraft construction, to providers of the latest material combinations for printing, to print heads and finished components, a comprehensive insight was offered.
On stage, there were many exciting presentations on fiber-reinforced 3D printing from the EmpowerAX team, industry partners of the Innovation Lab, and potential
users of the technology. There was even a real e-motorbike on stage, on which potential applications of fiber-reinforced 3D printing were discussed live.
The result? The technology is just taking its first successful steps into application. At the same time, it is beginning to close ranks with the surrounding infrastructure. Here, the EmpowerAX Days 2022 were able to identify new use cases for fibre-reinforced 3D printing, where the next steps will identify stumbling blocks in the implementation and eliminate them. In a personal exchange, the participants from research and industry were able to discuss various projects. These ranged from applications in the field of leg prosthetics to the use of fibre-reinforced additive manufacturing in the field of lightweight e-mobility (motorbikes).
The team behind the Innovation Lab is now testing the feasibility of these projects in initial preliminary studies. In the next step, the team is aiming for a joint transfer of the projects into funded projects.
In addition to these use cases, the EmpowerAX partners, together with the Innovation Lab team, identified the additive functionalisation of curved structures by means of local fibre-reinforced stiffening ribs as a relevant topic that could be applied above all in aerospace components. This is to be pursued and implemented within the framework of a demonstrator component for a suitable trade fair. The team behind EmpowerAX offers hands-on technology transfer and has thus turned a vision into reality.
A comprehensive insight into the EmpowerAX Days 2022 can be found here: