In many industrial sectors, such as in the automotive industry, in aerospace or in the energy sector, the demand for special metal components that are light and have a high-strength is increasing. Modern gas turbines, for example, require extremely stable and at the same time lightweight heat shields. An important manufacturing process for this is the powder-bed fusion process of metals using laser beam (PBF-LB/M). Depending on the application, the process is not yet always competitive compared with conventional production in terms of unit costs. The research and innovation project InShaPe, funded by the EU with EUR 6.8 million, aims to make a decisive contribution to the further development of the technology.
Under the coordination of the Technical University of Munich (TUM), here the Professorship of Laser-based Additive Manufacturing, ten partners from seven countries are working together on the project. In powder-bed fusion of metals, extremely thin layers of metal powder are applied to a building platform. This powder layer is melted by a focused laser beam and binds to the underlying material layer during solidification. This process is repeated layer by layer until a finished component is created. Due to the layered structure, complex and weight-saving geometries can be realised. After removal of excess powder, the finished component is then usually post-processed depending on the application.