New materials and innovative production technologies complement the established sectors within the metal industries. Of key importance is the digitalisation of the process chain. Almost an ideal model for complete digital production from design on screen to the finished part, are the generative procedures of 3D printing.
Additive manufacturing based on metals allows for a maximum of creative freedom combined with tool-less production of metal parts. Melting metal using lasers has allowed 3D printing to gain importance as a competitive production technology, especially where limited numbers of production, complicated geometry and a high degree of customisation are required.
Additive manufacturing supplements traditional methods and can be integrated into an existing production. Both as a direct and indirect additive method, 3D printing is gaining importance in the foundry industry. With direct metal printing foundries also are open to special orders which they would not have been able to deliver using classic pouring methods. The indirect method on the other hand, additive manufacturing of foundry moulds and cores, for example made from sand, by 3D printing, can be used for example to cast prototypes in a short time while saving on costs, thanks to a quick and tool-less way of making moulds.
Last but not least, the suppliers of foundries are called to action as well. For example, the additive manufacturing of cores and moulds needs specialised binding agents – a challenge for foundry chemistry. But the innovation potential of the classic shaping methods employed in casting is also renewed and proven time and again with new raw materials, continuing improvement of the casting process, digitalisation and new developments in mechanical engineering for foundries. One impressive example from pressure casting is so-called mega or giga casting. By casting components made from light metal as a single piece, several different functions can be integrated into a single component.