A multifunctional laser system capable of cutting, welding and 3D printing in a single process is currently under development at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT) in Aachen, Germany. The project for this system is termed MultiPROmobil. It is coordinated by Dr. Dirk Petring, group leader for Macro Joining and Cutting at Fraunhofer ILT. “In volatile markets, laser technology combined with digitalization is a predestined enabler for cost-effective production […],” comments Dr. Petring.“WITH AGILE, LASER-BASED MANUFACTURING, PROCESS CHAINS FOR THE PRODUCTION OF SHEET METAL ASSEMBLIES CAN BE MADE VERY FLEXIBLE AND SCALABLE SO THAT THEY CAN BE GRADUALLY INTRODUCED INTO ELECTROMOBILITY APPLICATIONS.”A multi-functional laser-head is being modified to enable metal 3D printing. Image via Fraunhofer ILT/Twitter.The future of AMThe Fraunhofer Society is a German organization based in Aachen. It constitutes 72 independent research institutions, including Fraunhofer ILT. These institutes of the Society have significantly influenced the development of 3D printing, with ILT leading the Future Additive Manufacturing (FutureAM) project, and working to create low-distortion LPBF. Other projects from Fraunhofer Society members include multiphoton lithography, and the TwoCure 3D printer, taking a different approach to supports.A hybrid laser systemThe MultiPROmobil project at ILT began in November 2018. Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, the project will run for three years.Working with the institute on the project are three other German partners: laser system manufacturer Bergmann & Steffen, software solutions provider CAE Innovative Engineering and the Laser Processing and Consulting Centre (LBBZ).Currently, a combi-head by laser expert Laserfact is being modified by the team to enable additive manufacturing. The same combi-head is already capable of welding and cutting using a single laser-head. Once the laser system is complete, a semi-bionic vehicle will be manufactured with the combi-laser. Design and simulation software for the process is also being developed in collaboration with Digital Twins, a project partner of CAE Innovative Engineering.The latest update on MultiPROmobil will be presented by Fraunhofer ILT will be present at LASER World of PHOTONICS 2019 from 24-27 June, Stand 431, Hall A2.For the latest news on metal 3D printing, subscribe to our 3D printing newsletter and join us on Facebook and Twitter. Visit our 3D Printing Jobs to start a career in manufacturing.Feature image shows a multi-functional laser-head is being modified to enable metal 3D printing. Image via Fraunhofer ILT/Twitter.