Production line for the series How plastic parts for cars will come out of the 3D printer

The Polyline project start-up meeting in March at EOS Headquarter near Munich

The Polyline project brings together 15 industrial and research partners from Germany for the automotive industry: They want to transfer conventional production techniques such as machining or casting to series 3D printing.

The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research with a total of 10.7 Mio. Euros.

3D printing - additive manufacturing - can realize almost any geometry and even complex structures without significant additional effort - a big step towards mass production of individualized products. At present, however, both the vertical and horizontal integration of additive manufacturing processes in conventional lines can only be implemented to a limited extent due to the lack of standards across process chains. This is due to AM-specific production steps (e.g. production time in the "batch process") and the generally low level of automation of the physical handling and transport processes. On the other hand, the digital data chain along the horizontal process chain is not continuous at many interfaces, which currently leads to intransparency, susceptibility to errors and limited monitoring along the process chain and makes integration into relevant production control systems more difficult. These obstacles limit the obviously high potential of additive manufacturing processes in existing series production and assembly lines.

From flexible solution for prototype construction to scalable additive production chain

In order to achieve the project objective, the project aims at a digital and physical system breakthrough. To achieve this, it is important to record and document all central characteristic values and quality criteria (including identification, history and measured values) from the CAD model to the finished component. The individual sub-processes of production - from process preparation to the selective laser-sintering process, cooling and unpacking as well as cleaning and reworking of the parts - will be automated and integrated into the planned production line, in which all the trades of an SLS production chain will be fully linked for the first time.

Polyline uses a new solution approach that considers and implements all required processes in a holistic way. The planned production line is to be implemented according to the requirements of the application partner with a high degree of maturity. The use cases include personalized components as well as serial parts in large quantities.

The project is part of the funding measure "Line integration of additive manufacturing processes" as part of the funding programme "Photonics Research Germany - Light with a Future". The lead management owner of Polyline is EOS.