21 partners from across Europe have teamed up to advance the development of multi-material metal additive manufacturing through the three-year MULTI-FUN project. The project has dual goals. First, to improve performance and efficiency in metal AM through the integration of multi-functionalities based on active materials, as well as to develop new structural materials for Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM), such as high-strength aluminum alloys and low alloyed steel grades. Second, to enable multi-material design for complex 3D printed parts without size constraints.
The project will notably focus on the use of nanotechnologies to develop the new materials, to “improve heat transfer rates, higher complexity of internal design and inclusion of sensing and data transfer capabilities for condition and structural health monitoring and process control.”
MULTI-FUN project members come from across Europe, including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. Members include voestalpine Metal Forming GmbH, WAAM3D Limited, EDAG Engineering GmbH, RUAG Space GmbH, the European Federation for Welding, Joining and Cutting, and several others. Together, they cover the AM process and equipment manufacturing chain.
The project has laid out four science and technology objectives. The first relates to the development of five new materials for additive manufacturing, at least three of which are applicable for nanotechnology. This will enable the creation of new products by maximizing thermal conductivity, minimizing electrical conductivity and improving wear resistance.
The second objective is focused on new processes and will consist of developing AM equipment and software to produce new material compositions. The consortium partners intend to develop 10 new material combinations using the five new materials, which will be showcased through seven demonstrators for various applications.
The third goal is to manufacture and evaluate seven physical demonstrators with multi-material design and integrated multi-functionalities. These will cover three use cases, including structural parts, molds and test equipment, and will address four different markets: automotive, aviation, space and production. This objective is expected to contribute to the development of new knowledge on increased efficiency of parts and molds using multi-material, integrated functions.
The fourth and final objective seeks to establish a feedback loop for constant process assessment and improvement. The feedback loop will address environmental and economic impact by evaluating AM materials, hardware, process strategy and demonstrator design. This goal will help to establish new standards and help regulatory bodies develop new standards for multi-material metal AM.