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An Austrian research network presents concepts for the successful application of additive manufacturing in the industry

ecoplus Plastics and Mechatronics Cluster in Lower Austria report the completion of the CORNET project, ‘AM 4 Industry’, and published its findings on successful applications of additive manufacturing in the industry.

Additive manufacturing (AM) — colloquially referred to as 3D printing — is increasingly used in industrial production. Based on 3D model data, parts are automatically built layer-by-layer from plastics, metals and ceramics. The process is used to create complex structures that cannot be produced conventionally and to introduce new properties and functions for products. While some companies are already using additive technologies profitably, others are struggling to integrate them into the value chain. Economical use of AM requires users to have a wide range of skills in the areas of processes, materials, finishing and quality assurance. Besides, it demands a careful cost-benefit analysis which takes the required quality into account. A successful industrial application therefore depends on the definition of quality characteristics, the development of methods for design and construction, reliable monitoring of production processes, suitable guidelines for reworking and an appropriate cost-benefit model.

To explore these success factors, Ecoplus Plastics and Mechatronics Cluster in Lower Austria launched the ambitious CORNET project ‘AM 4 Industry’ in November 2016. For two years, eight renowned research partners and fifty-one companies from Austria, Germany and Belgium worked on industrial application concepts of AM. The COllective Research NETwork (CORNET) had a budget of 2.1 million euros. It consists of the Research Institute for Rationalization (FIR) of the RWTH Aachen University, the Research Subsidiary of FH Wiener Neustadt – FOTEC, the Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology – IGCV, the Institute for Polymer Injection Moulding and Process Automation of the Johannes Kepler University Linz, the Chair of Polymer Processing of the University of Leoben, the RHP-Technology GmbH, and the Belgian collective centre for and by the technological industry – Sirris.

After intensive cooperation, this network has reported the successful completion of its project. The results, which support companies in implementing additive manufacturing processes, were divided into five publications relevant for practice and research.

“Thanks to the expertise and the committed and open-minded cooperation of the partners involved, we were able to develop several methodologies and guidelines that will prove to be extremely relevant for the industry”, said ecoplus project manager Benjamin Losert.
The five publications include a catalogue of errors for laser beam melting, a practical design methodology for additive manufacturing, a fundamental study of processes, a tool for quality optimisation and cost analyses and an application-oriented example for getting started with OpenFoam® and chtMultiRegion.

The summarised project results can be downloaded from the network’s website: www.am4industry.com

Contact
DI Benjamin Losert, Project Manager Mechatronics Cluster
ecoplus. Lower Austria Business Agency GmbH
Niederösterreich-Ring 2, House A, 3100 St. Pölten
Email: b.losert@ecoplus.at, Phone: +43 2742 9000-19669
About ecoplus
As a privately managed agency with decades of experience, a highly specialised team and a comprehensive network, ecoplus offers tailor-made services for the Lower Austrian economy. First-class company locations are available in 18 business parks.

The technopoly programme strengthens technology-oriented location development, particularly for educational and research institutions. Furthermore, the Business Agency of Lower Austria provides access to regional subsidies and supports innovative cooperative projects in the ecoplus cluster’s competitiveness initiatives. Moreover, Lower Austrian companies can count on support for internationalisation and export.

The project was financially supported by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG in the course of a CORNET (COllective Research NETworking).

ecoplus is a committed member of the technology platform AM-Austria: www.am-austria.com.