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Laser metal fusion is a relatively new process. A laser beam controlled by a CAD dataset melts very thin layers of powder at several hundred degrees. Processing is in a vertical direction. This allows components with unusual shapes to be manufactured, which is often impossible in conventional production.

Together with the project partners FKM Sintertechnik and Woco , a research project at Mittelhessen University of Applied Sciences is now exploring the options that the procedure offers for using findings from bionics in lightweight construction. “We will be developing two processes: a computer-supported process for identifying optimal structures with the aid of bionics and an additive manufacturing process for components with a high surface quality that do not require any finishing,” says Prof. Udo Jung.

As an example, as part of the project an innovative wastegate actuator is to be made – a wastegate actuator is a component that controls the boost in a turbocharger and is exposed to heavy loads. The electro-hydraulically operated wastegate actuator should be more efficient and lighter than the electro-mechanical equivalent and only uses half as much energy. The project partners are expecting sales figures of 1 million units for the new product in 2020 and two million by 2025.