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Focus on material and quality: QSmetalAM 24 was successful

The third and final part of the QSmetalAM event series took place on 20.06.2024 under the title "Materials - The name of the game". The series of events focused on the topic of "Quality in additive manufacturing", this time with a focus on materials. For the first time, the event took place in the new Park Innovaare premises.

The fact that there are relatively few metal alloys available for powder-based 3D printing and only a handful of them are processed in large quantities is a little sobering. What they all have in common is that they come from conventional manufacturing and were developed for conventional processes.

In his presentation, Güven Kurtuldu (cross-ING) impressively demonstrated that various alloyed elements are used to improve rolling, casting, extrusion, etc., processes that are not even used in additive manufacturing. With magnesium and zinc, there are even elements that can evaporate completely or partially during multiple melting and disrupt the printing process.

Why not simply develop new alloys that are optimized for the printing process? Thomas Etter (Lincotek), Christian Leinenbach (EMPA) and Sebastian Wierschke (GF Casting Solution) showed on the one hand that it is possible to develop new, better alloys and that modern methods are available for this. However, they also showed the obstacles that lie in the lack of data on new alloys on the one hand and the lack of production capacities for powder production in very small quantities on the other.

For the time being, optimization in 3D printing does not appear to be achieved through the development of new alloys, but through the further development of printing parameters (laser, etc.) and downstream processes such as heat treatment.

Roy Z'Rotz from Sika showed that quality is just as important in plastic printing as in metal printing. Defects in structural and civil engineering inevitably involve a great deal of effort to rectify. The sometimes required service life of 30 years and more does not allow any compromises in quality. Sika therefore operates a large internal laboratory in which all tests are carried out.

The program was rounded off by a contribution from Adriaan Spierings, who explained the role of the "Swiss Additive Manufacturing Group" working group of Swissmem (equivalent to the VDMA in Germany), and Cynthia Chang, who presented the possibilities of the Paul Scherrer Institute in the investigation of residual stresses in 3D-printed components.

The concluding drinks reception once again offered the opportunity to further discuss the topics heard and to maintain and expand one's own network. Although we do not have any pictures of it, this part of the event was, as always, a great success. The presence of numerous new faces was particularly pleasing, which illustrates the steadily growing interest in our events.

This year's information event successfully concluded our three-part series on the topic of "Quality in AM". The previous topics were:

  • 2022: Quality assurance of 3D-printed components

  • 2023: Costs - What can added value cost?

  • 2024: Materials - The name of the game

In view of the great interest, the organizers Fabian Tunzini (cross-ING), Christian Grünzweig (anaxam) and Adriaan Spierings will consider continuing the information event.

We would like to thank all speakers and participants for their valuable contributions and active participation.

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