Robotic Screw Extrusion Additive Manufacturing


Nicolas Unger

German Aerospace Center


Robotic SEAM

In the hybrid manufacturing cell Yizumi SpaceA

Robotic Screw Extrusion Additive Manufacturing (SEAM) is a novel 3D printing process used in the Yizumi SpaceA hybrid manufacturing cell operated by the DLR Institute of Vehicle Concepts. The system enables the processing of low-cost standard granulates at high build rates and is used, for example, in the production of structural parts for the DLR Next Generation Car family.

Hybrid additive manufacturing cell SpaceA

The SpaceA system combines additive manufacturing using SEAM with subtractive machining capabilities as well as part handling capabilities into one flexible unit.

The core of the cell is formed by four compact single-screw extruders that allow additive manufacturing based on standard pellets, guided by industrial robots. Here, the spatial degrees of freedom of the positioning system are combined with the flexibility of the extrusion system in the range of available and processable materials, allowing product areas previously untapped by additive manufacturing to be served. In particular, the high production speed, large component dimensions and the processing of highly filled materials, e.g. for structural components, should be mentioned.

In addition to pure additive manufacturing, hybrid manufacturing, i.e. the combination of different process types and materials in one component, is also being investigated in the project. The entire process chain, from component design, intelligent planning and generation of robot paths and the manufacturing data set to monitoring of the manufacturing process and integrated quality assurance, is being considered. In addition, materials are qualified for the SEAM process and material combinations, e.g. for printing and functionalizing metallic structures, are evaluated.

Additive manufacturing for industrial applications in the vehicle

Additive manufacturing (AM) processes can offer the possibility of meeting future requirements for mobility and the vehicles needed for it. In particular, the prospect of (partially) autonomous driving opens up new usage concepts and thus demands for a flexible structure and an interior that can be customized. In addition, model and development cycles are becoming shorter and shorter. These developments pose a major challenge to production and especially to its flexibility.

Because AM processes generally do not require component-specific molds, they can in principle produce geometrically different components one after the other without additional setup times. Flexibility is therefore given in this respect, but most processes lack productivity and material selection. The Robotic SEAM process principle addresses these limitations and can be used in new areas that were previously served by conventional processes such as injection molding. Especially hybrid additive manufacturing on existing structures for functionalization and individualization is a promising approach at this point.

The aim of this project is to identify the obstacles of this still young process and to develop appropriate solutions that enable and support its wider use. This will only work if the entire process chain is taken into account, especially the digital one. In addition, use cases will be developed and demonstrated together with partners inside and outside the arena to show the possibilities of the technology.