Cables and lines are inserted into the printed components

Additive manufacturing

May 12, 2022

By Stefan Ash

The aim of the “3DConFil” research project at TU Darmstadt is to integrate various elements into laminated plastic parts.

The project team with the prototype of the “3DConFil” printer: Kay-Eric Steffan, Martin Schinnerl and Eckhard Kirchner (from left to right).
Photo: TU Darmstadt/Katrin Binner

It’s great, the freedom of design that additive manufacturing offers: almost any shape imaginable can be produced! But what good is topological freedom if cables still have to be inserted after the printing process? Then it must be clamped manually and drilled or countersunk again. It’s a shame actually… Because: “Today we are witnessing increasing mechatronization,” says Kay-Eric Steffan, associate researcher at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at TU Darmstadt. The demands on the products are more and more individual, their functional density is increasing.

Production becomes more resource efficient

This is exactly where the “3DConFil” funding project comes in. Researchers from the Product Development and Machine Elements department have developed a hybrid process and production system that combines plastic 3D printing with flexible cable processing. This means that cables, electronic lines, pipes and optical fibers are integrated and integrated into the component thus produced. Subsequent assembly, which is complex and costly in conventional manufacture, is therefore no longer necessary. “This shortens the process chain, saves work steps and material and thus makes production more resource efficient”, explains Steffan, project coordinator at 3DConFil.

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