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Now researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems in Dresden have adapted the 3D printing process Fused Filament Fabrication for hard metals and are confident that this process will enable the economic production of harder tools for the first time. The additive manufacturing process Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), which has its origins in the plastics processing industry, was adapted initially for high-performance ceramics and composite materials. The researchers report that the materials efficiency of FFF opens up interesting possibilities for hard metals in the production of large complex prototypes or special tools. FFF enables the manufacture of 3D bodies from a flexible, meltable filament. The Fraunhofer institute has decades of proven expertise in powder metallurgical technology that is the basis for the production of the filament required in FFF from hard metal powders with organic binders.

Depending on the structure of the material, the hardness, compressive strength and tensile strength of hard metals can be specifically increased through reduced grain size and binder content. The filaments can be used as semi-finished products in standard printers.

Machines understand nothing. When it comes to comprehension and interpretation, it is always up to the human mind.