The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research has funded and launched POLYLINE, a collaborative project aimed at developing a next-generation production line for the automotive industry. The €10.7 million project specifically addresses the integration of additive manufacturing into plastic part production in the automotive industry to complement conventional production methods through high-throughput production line systems.
The POLYLINE project aims to overcome existing challenges in the vertical and horizontal integration of AM into conventional production lines, including lack of standards across process chains, a low level of automation for the physical handling and transport processes and AM-specific workflows. Looking at horizontal integration specifically, the project will address the lack of continuity for digital data chains, which has created hurdles in fully exploiting the benefits of AM.
Recognizing these challenges, the project will therefore seek to establish a next-gen production line that will enable the optimal integration of AM into plastic automotive production workflows. To achieve this, the project partners will work together to record and document all central characteristic values and quality criteria from CAD models to final parts; to further automate individual sub-processes, including preparation, SLS printing, cooling, unpacking, cleaning and post-processing; and to fully link all the technological elements in the SLS production chain.
“POLYLINE uses a new solution approach that takes a holistic view and implements all required processes,” the project reads. “The targeted production line is planned to be implemented with a high degree of maturity according to the requirements of the application partner. The use cases include customized components as well as serial components in large quantities.” Ultimately, POLYLINE has the goal of presenting additive manufacturing as a viable alternative to conventional processes for series production.
The POLYLINE project has a timeline of three years and brings on 15 partners from across Germany’s industry and academia, including BMW Group, EOS, 3YOURMIND, DyeMansion, Grenzebach Maschinenbau, Additive Marking, Bernd Olschner, Optris, Krumm-tec, Paderborn University, the Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing, the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML, Dortmund University of Technology, University of Augsburg and University Duisburg Essen.