Industrial high-end 3D printing for functional prototypes, spare parts and series directly from 3D data.
Reproducible quality for individual parts, spare parts, or series production.
Additive manufacturing is the opposite of material-removing, subtractive manufacturing, in which the desired object is carved out of a block of material. In additive manufacturing (AM for short), the final product is built up and created layer by layer with the help of various materials and a 3D printer.
FKM stands for functional additively manufactured components that must meet the same mechanical requirements as a component that is to be replaced or is at the end of product development. For this reason, we rely on powder-bed-based additive manufacturing processes of selective laser sintering for plastics and selective laser melting for metals from the very beginning – since 1994.
Even if the colloquial term 3D printed component is usually used, additive manufacturing is a completely separate production process, at the end of which there are real components and fully functional prototypes that are produced in reproducible and assured quality.
Additive manufacturing – Our services
FKM creates products for you and according to your specifications via 3D printing. The final products of additive manufacturing are fully functional, ready for use and resilient. Depending on your wishes, materials, and requirements, we use various technologies in the production process and put the finishing touches on finished printed objects. Our services include:
- the two processes SLS (selective laser sintering) and SLM (selective laser melting)
- various surface finishes
- machining of 3D components
- in-house quality assurance
The basis for this is print-data via CAD-programme that you send us or that we create along your specifications. Depending on the application of the printed object, we select the optimal material from our total of 18 different 3D-printable plastics and metals. We exhaust all possibilities to realise even seemingly impossible ideas and projects.
Our service portfolio
The two processes SLS and SLM are based on the same additive technology and differ only in detail. In laser sintering, plastic powders are fused into objects. If metal components are to be created, the laser melting process comes into play. Both processes are used in rapid prototyping, rapid tooling and rapid manufacturing, i.e. the rapid production of functional prototypes, tools and components. Three-dimensional objects are created in this way right up to ready-to-use components. FKM offers a range of techniques for optimal finishing and refinement. On request, we can lacquer, dye, coat or polish your printed projects. With the help of a special infiltration process, we can also make the components water- or gas-proof. Thanks to numerous modern 5-axismillingmachines (in cooperation with Henkel Modellbau GmbH), it is possible for us to carry out demanding finishings. We guarantee uniform standards and consistent quality through our ISO 9001 certified quality management system as well as thanks to our in-house quality assurance, e.g. via 3D scanning, particle measurements, density measurements and tensile tests.
What is Additive Manufacturing?
Additive manufacturing is considered to be one of the key technologies in the context of Industry 4.0. While in the past it was often only used for rapid prototyping and rapid tooling, it is now increasingly being used in the manufacturing of product series and has revolutionised industry worldwide. Thanks to this process, costs and manufacturing times are reduced enormously. Product development and thus market launches are also much faster. Until now, tools were produced exclusively in an ablative manner, and components created via metal or plastic casting could only be produced economically when in very large quantities, which consumed significantly more unnecessary resources. From the automotive industry to prosthetics, additive manufacturing is a method with versatile applications. 3D printing can be an alternative solution to previous production processes or can be intelligently integrated into established processes.
All advantages at a glance:
- time- and cost-efficient production of components
- complex and filigree geometries possible
- complex internal structures possible
- less consumption of material
- tool-free production
- prototype production during developmental process
- fully automated production of fully functional workpieces
The advantages of AM processes
Particularly in development processes, three-dimensional printing of components is an extremely useful way of achieving new results with little time and material expenditure, or of optimising shapes and functions. Above all, the possibility of producing individual and very specific products quite quickly, especially in medicine, is a major plus of additive manufacturing. Another and probably the most important advantage is that geometrically complex and intricate objects can be produced. And all this without the need for specially made tools, as would be the case with injection moulding, which is not always necessarily economical. Additive production can produce filigree shapes. Even internal complex structures such as near-contour cooling channels, thin-walled or loose parts can be produced in one step. This reduces the number of potentially mechanical weak points in the form of seams.
The AM process at FKM Sintertechnik
At FKM we offer two different 3D printing processes – SLS and SLM. In selective laser sintering, plastic powders are fused to objects along the respective pre-programmed data, while selective laser melting uses various metal powders as base material. Both are based on the idea of the layered construction method. The final product is built up layer by layer in a closed construction space of one of our 40 3D production systems, automated and without tools. Within the confined construction space, there is a movable platform, which is lowered step by step during the manufacturing process. After each lowering, a thin layer of the selected material is applied in powder form. A powerful laser beam adapted to the base material fuses this powder precisely and according to CAD-specifications along the desired contours and structures. In our machines, construction volumes of a maximum of 1000 x 500 x 450 mm can be created. Components that are larger are printed in individual units and then assembled in our factory.
Additive Manufacturing – Materials
In total, we work with 18 different 3D printing materials in additive manufacturing – plastics and metals. Depending on the desired object, some materials are better suitable for properties such as tensile strength, flexibility, lightness or temperature resistance than others.
We use ten different polymers in powder form for the laser sintering process. The choice depends on the intended use of the finished object.
- PA 12 white, natural and grey
- PA 12 GF (with glass)
- PA 11
- PA 6
- Alumide (PA 12 with aluminium)
- PA 12 FR (with flame retardant)
- PEEK HP3
We currently offer eight different metals in powder form. Each base material allows for certain functionalities and advantages, so we always choose the material that is best suited to the purpose of the finished component. We can also manufacture objects that have to withstand high loads – thermal and/or mechanical – thanks to special initial materials.
- Aluminium AlSi10mg
- Stainless steel 1.4404 and 1.4542
- Tool steel 1.2709
- Inconel 718
- Copper CuNi2SiCr
- Titanium Ti6Al4V
Areas of application for additive manufacturing
Additive printing processes have diverse, almost unlimited areas of application. From model making to small series, three-dimensionally printed products can be found. Often, individual pieces or spare parts are needed that are otherwise unavailable or difficult to obtain. AM also offers enormous advantages in the field of medicine and prosthetics for producing patient-specific solutions. 3D printing is also an unbeatable solution during development, on the one hand to keep development costs as low as possible and on the other hand to test and optimise function and handling on the object itself until the idea has been fully and successfully realised. The aerospace and automotive industries are probably the sectors that benefit most from 3D printing. For the first time, it is now possible to develop components that are extremely filigree and light in a cost- and time-efficient way. At the same time, these lightweight objects are very stable, as unnecessary welded or screwed joints are eliminated. This means reduced fuel consumption, increased stability and safety as well as novel shapes.