The use of granulate-based plastic processes is revolutionizing 3D printing and paving the way for durable and cost-efficient products. With a robust shelf and a vehicle frame, the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology (IWU) is demonstrating how individual shaping, low material costs and high resilience can work in practice.
Granulate-based processes can be used to manufacture heavy-duty products economically and in closed material cycles. A comparison by the Fraunhofer IWU shows that 3D-printed shelving offers optimized space utilization compared to standard shelving.
In the DynaLight project, a load-bearing frame was constructed for the electric cargo scooter. The 3D-printed plastic shelves for battery electric police vehicles not only maximize the load capacity, but also optimize the cargo space. For example, a 3D-printed rear shelf for the Mercedes Vito can save 26.5 kilograms compared to previous solutions without sacrificing payload capacity. The lower drawer of the new shelf can carry up to 100 kilograms, which is essential for the increasingly heavy equipment used by the police.
SEAM technology (Screw Extrusion Additive Manufacturing) was used to produce the shelf and frame. This 3D printing process developed by Fraunhofer IWU is not only eight times faster than conventional methods, but also processes cost-effective standard plastic granules. Compared to conventional fused layer modeling (FLM) processes, which use expensive filaments, production costs are up to 200 times lower.
SEAM also supports the circular economy approach by using pellets made from recycled thermoplastics without reducing the quality of the previous product. Plastic bottles can thus be given a second life as highly resilient shelves or supporting frames for e-scooters.
The Fraunhofer IWU’s projects with MOSOLF Special Vehicles GmbH and other partners show that 3D printing with granulate-based processes is a viable solution to the challenges of e-mobility. They combine sustainability with efficiency and offer a strong basis for future production in the mobility sector.