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EU project InShaPe

Green Additive Manufacturing through Innovative Beam Shaping and Process Monitoring

InShaPe makes metal-based additive manufacturing faster, cheaper and more sustainable

In many industrial sectors, such as the automotive industry, aerospace and the energy sector, the demand for lightweight, high-strength and mechanically highly resilient special metallic components is increasing. Modern gas turbines, for example, require extremely stable and at the same time lightweight heat shields. An important manufacturing process for this is the powder bed-based additive manufacturing of metals. This method is technically referred to as powder bed fusion of metals using laser beam (PBF-LB/M).

Depending on the application, the process is not yet always competitive compared with conventional production in terms of unit costs. The InShaPe research and innovation project, funded by the EU with EUR 7.2 million, aims to make a decisive contribution to the further development of the technology. Under the coordination of the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the Professorship for Laser-based Additive Manufacturing, eleven partners from eight countries are working together on the project.

In powder bed-based additive manufacturing of metals, metal powder is applied to a building platform in an extremely thin layer of around 50-80 µm. This powder layer is melted by a focused laser beam and binds to the underlying material layer during solidification.  The process is repeated layer by layer until a finished component is created. Complex and weight-saving geometries can be realised thanks to the layered structure. Excess powder is removed from the finished component, which is then usually reworked depending on the application.

The overall goal of InShaPe is to further develop and demonstrate an innovative powder bed fusion process for metals (PBF-LB/M). Compared to the current state of the art, the following advantages should be achieved:

a seven times higher production rate
over 50 % lower costs
60 % less energy consumption
30 % less waste

In the long term, the successful development and marketing of InShaPe technologies is intended to strengthen the European PBF-LB/M manufacturing industry as a leading provider of highly complex parts and set new best-in-class standards for digital, resource-conserving and agile laser-based production methods.