Additive manufacturing processes offer an impressive amount of freedom when it comes to designing products and components but they still have their limitations. The possibilities and limitations of additive and conventional technologies often complement one another: with additive methods, the degree of geometrical freedom is almost infinite but the range of materials that can be used is very restricted. With conventional technologies, the opposite is true. Thus, interesting possibilities arise if the two different technologies are combined. From integrated electronic and microsystem components, right through to hybrid lightweight products, exciting applications can be realized through the direct interaction of additive with conventional processes.
Fraunhofer IPA develops such hybrid processes and process chains for specific applications. The aim is to overcome the limitations of additive technologies and to implement them in areas where they could not be used before. To achieve this, additive methods are combined with other technologies in automated process chains, or completely new processes developed by combining elements of additive technologies with conventional ones. An example of this is the integration of microassembly and minimal volume metering technologies into an inkjet-based additive process. This allows electronic circuits to be integrated directly into additively-manufactured products.