The process of producing components in layers using 3D printers known as additive manufacturing is a key technology of the future in both industry and research. A number of research groups and chairs at TU Berlin also work on 3D technologies and methods of additive manufacturing. To reflect this, TU Berlin set up the 3D-Tech central institute for 3D technologies on 1 January 2021. The aim is to coordinate the expertise of the various chairs as well as raise awareness of TU Berlin’s work in this area. This decision was taken by the Board of Trustees at the initiative of Professor Dr.-Ing. Dietmar Göhlich, head of the Chair of Methods for Product Development and Mechatronics at TU Berlin.
3D-Tech will be housed in a 1200-square meter space in the new IMoS research building (Interdisciplinary Center for Modeling and Simulation) currently under construction on TU Berlin’s east campus in the district of Charlottenburg. It will use its state-of-the-art equipment to undertake work in the area of 3D visualization, 3D scanning and additive manufacturing. In addition to supporting teaching and research at TU Berlin, the new central institute will also accept contracts from industry and commerce.
The idea for 3D-Tech emerged from the 3D lab of TU Berlin’s Institute of Mathematics (Faculty II Mathematics and Natural Sciences). The management of the new central institute is to be paired with a new “Design for Additive Manufacturing” professorship, which is to be housed at TU Berlin within the framework of the Werner-von-Siemens Centre for Industry and Science (WvSC) located in Siemensstadt 2.0. This new academic chair will conduct research into the processes of product manufacturing and the optimization of components as well as the use of artificial intelligence.
Two further professorships are also planned with a close link to innovative manufacturing industries, similarly to be located at TU Berlin within the framework of the WvSC and financed by the state of Berlin: The “Materials for Additive Manufacturing” professorship, which will be incorporated within the Institute for Materials Science and Technologies, will conduct research into the development and optimization of new hybrid materials and composite structures. The “Mathematical Modeling of Industry Life Cycles” professorship, to be located within the Institute of Mathematics at TU Berlin, will address the modeling, analysis and operation of digital twins, the technology used to simulate production plants or products. Recruitment for all three professorships is currently underway.
“We can very clearly see that current developments are moving towards generative products; in other words, products created directly from 3D printers using datasets and without the use of tools or casting molds,” explains Professor Göhlich. “Additive manufacturing is used to supplement classical processes like casting, cutting and forging in areas such as mechanical engineering and product manufacturing. This means that complicated shapes can be created using a single machine. However, a number of key research issues still need to be addressed regarding additive manufacturing’s wider use in industry.”
3D printing is already used in a number of areas such as construction, aeronautics and astronomics, automotive engineering, the consumer goods industry, and medicine. This diversity is also reflected at TU Berlin, where the research groups and chairs working with these technologies are currently still spread among all the University’s faculties. The new central institute is designed to coordinate their work by creating a strategic alliance. “We anticipate that 3D-Tech will inspire new inter-faculty and interdisciplinary joint projects with both a national and international impact,” explains Göhlich. “We already have an additive manufacturing research and teaching network and some 30 academic chairs have expressed interest in becoming involved.”
A 3D lab was set up at TU Berlin as early as 2003 by Professor Dr. Hartmut Schwandt as part of the MATHEON DFG research center. As such, the University can draw on many years’ extensive experience of working with this technology as well as highly qualified and experienced staff such as Dipl.-Ing. Ben Jastram, deputy director of the 3D lab. The lab’s impressive array of equipment includes a three-wall CAVE for interactive projections where virtual reality is brought to life, as well as 3D printers, scanners, a nano computer tomograph, CNC cutters and an extensive computer park with hardware and software for the additive manufacturing of components. There are also plans to purchase further large-scale equipment for 3D-Tech. This will be financed using investment funds of approximately two million euros, which had already been assigned in the budget for the new IMoS research center.
You can find an overview of 3D technologies and their applications for additive manufacturing at TU Berlin here.
Author: Patricia Pätzold-Algner