3D Cluster

Using new additive manufacturing processes, which in the context of digitisation are capturing markets, it is now possible to manufacture customised products and on the basis of high adaptability to respond quickly to market requirements. The market for 3D printers alone is growing rapidly. This growth is accompanied by a multitude of technological solutions. 3D printing is a collective term for several technical processes for different materials (diverse polymers, metals, ceramics etc.) which work using the layer manufacturing method.    

With the aim of harnessing 3D technologies for companies and their customers and of driving development forward, a 3D printing cluster was set up at Reutlingen University in 2017. The focus of this research initiative is the investigation of possible applications of 3D technologies, paying particular attention to technical process chains, business models, application possibilities, potentials and limitations.

Thanks to a grant from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the University was able to invest in a lot of devices, thus opening up many possibilities for the 3D Cluster. Various high-performance printers which are interconnected for the research and demonstration of the efficient utilisation of hybrid manufacturing facilities by collaboratively used production networks are available on campus to the cross-faculty and interdisciplinary centre of expertise with its comprehensive know-how. .   

In the Werk150 Professor Vera Hummel’s team investigates the modes of action and the interaction of innovative additive manufacturing technologies and technical assistance systems as well as intelligent objects in production systems. Currently available lightweight robots for deployment in the context of cooperation between humans and robots (HRC) are incomplete machines. Only the use of tools (end-effectors), periphery, sensors and programming makes them become complete and therefore productively usable machines. Regarding gripping systems, additive manufacturing enables the cost-efficient production of gripping systems with integrated functions that can be manufactured individually for the product to be transported. Tools and devices can be provided economically for adaptable production systems with small batch sizes. In research projects innovative solutions and instruments for new business models are being developed. Companies from the region are invited to test innovative manufacturing processes and to develop joint solutions to their challenges.  

Other members of the 3D Cluster are the School of Applied Chemistry with the 3D printer Nanoscribe, the School of Textiles & Design with the 3D printing of synthetic material integrated in textiles, the School of Informatics with their know-how of print data administration and the School of Engineering which among other things deals with the design and features of additively manufactured components.

Within the 3D Cluster, the schools‘ complementary competences are intensified and interconnected, innovative research projects carried out and implemented in real, viable and sustainable applications. Thanks to the solutions developed for and with the companies in the region, the university location Reutlingen and the entire Neckaralb innovation region are given a lasting boost.