Figure: Laser-melted multi-material component sprue made of CuCr1Zr and tool steel 1.2709.

Additive manufacturing, and laser beam melting in particular, is finding more and more application areas in the industrial environment. One of the main factors behind this development is the ever-growing understanding of the process and the increasing number of materials that can be processed. However, the current understanding of the process is still limited to mono-material components, i.e., components consisting of one material. The production of hybrid or 2-D multi-material components, characterized by a change of material in the build-up direction, is also already widespread. In a process developed at AMLab, it is now also possible to manufacture components made of two different materials, which have an arbitrary distribution of both materials both in the build direction and in the build plane. Due to the arbitrary material distribution in all spatial axes, these structures are called 3-D multi-material components. Thus, advantages of additive manufacturing such as load-bearing design or functional integration can be further extended by locally using materials with the required properties (e.g., ductility, thermal conductivity, hardness). In this way, additive manufacturing can be made more flexible to produce function-optimized tool and mold inserts, e.g., by using tool molds and inserts with long-term resistant coatings that increase service life. Research projects are also being carried out to investigate the combination of metallic structural components and electrical components and separation processes for powder recycling in mixed powders. Thanks to its experience and leading position in research into multi-material processing, the AMLab knows material behavior, interactions that occur, and other process-related challenges that are introduced into new research projects.

The 3D printing process in video: Production of multi-material components in the FORNEXTGEN project: