Voices of the stakeholders
Interview with Dipl. Ing. (FH) Philip Kunze
Fraunhofer IWU Zittau
What perspectives and special fields of application do you see for 3D printing in the future, which areas of cooperation do you consider particularly interesting and where can AMiCE play a supporting role?
The market is increasingly developing in the direction of personalization, that is, small quantities and individualization of parts. Especially in the automotive industry, this trend is noticeable and has the potential to open new niche markets for small and medium-sized companies. SMEs are, so to speak, the backbone of our society and sometimes have very high innovative strength. Taking into account the financial resources, I see great potential, by using networks such as in the project AMiCE, the prototyping and tooling continue to advance. In addition, the topics of continuous fiber integration, additive production of large components and the production of bionically optimized structures using 3D printing are becoming more and more important.
Do you follow the approach of the material cycle in your institute and in the context of additive manufacturing?
The topic of material circulation and the associated resource-efficient handling of petroleum-based materials is interesting and important in that producers can reuse recycled materials to obtain cheaper starting materials while at the same time protecting the environment. The IWU Zittau works among other things with the regranulation and the subsequent reprocessing of industrial plastic waste. This means that waste plastics are processed into granules and from that new components are created by means of a 3D printing process developed by the Fraunhofer. We continue to work with the laser-sintering process and the challenge of disposing of a great deal of plastic in this process - this is the thermally damaged powder of the construction space from which no parts are generated (about 90%). We have managed to prepare this material and reuse it. This has the consequence that a component production in laser sintering is significantly cheaper due to the associated multiple use of materials. In addition, the processing of bio-based polymers is being researched.
For which target group, in your view, 3D printing will gain in importance in the future and why?
In my opinion, many groups and industries can benefit from it as well as network and transfer work such as the AMiCE project. For example, for a product idea, start-ups can initially have the required components manufactured in small quantities. Although the profit margin is low, the start-up can observe the product on the market and create a financial buffer in order to purchase an injection molding tool for series production at a later date, for example. The number of home applications will also increase in the future, which means that instead of inkjet printers, 3D printers may be available in many households in the future to print worn or defective small household items themselves using the templates provided on the Internet.
The interview was conducted by Marlen Krause.