Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Germany)

JEC World Innovation Awards Finalist 2020

Associated partners: Fraunhofer ICT (Germany), HBH Microwave GmbH (Germany)

Key Benefits:

  • 10 times higher printing speed than state of the art printers
  • Possibility to print thick continuous carbon fiber reinforced filaments
  • Printing of free-standing lattice truss and bionic structures
  • Highly energy efficient and cost saving technology
  • Load-dependent printing path generation for continuous FRP

Developed the world’s first prototype of an ultra-high speed 3D microwave printer SERPENS. The bionic and free-standing lattice composite structures are printed by the SERPENS.

Within the last two years, the world’s first prototype of a 3D microwave printer SERPENS (Super Efficient and Rapid Printing by Electromagnetic-heating Necessitated System) has been designed and built up at KIT. The system can manufacture CFRP parts with at least 10 to approx. 100 times higher speed than the traditional 3D printing technologies by taking the benefits of rapid, selective and volumetric heating of microwaves. Current additive manufacturing methods have a limited and slow printing speed because of the intrinsic slow and contact needed heat transfer disadvantages of the traditional resistive heating approach. Laser, infrared or ultraviolet heating sources can only heat the surface of the CFRP filament and slowly transfer the heat to the core. As a result, current 3D printing methods manufacture composite products with extremely low printing speed (10 mm/s) and can hardly increase it. The key innovations of this system include the small microwave resonant heating cavity, the prediction-model based printing temperature control and the load- dependent printing path planning. Using these innovations, SERPENS is able to produce new bionic and free-standing lattice truss CFRP structures in three-dimensional space at outstanding speed.

Rapid 3D Microwave Printing of Lattice Composites
Rapid 3D Microwave Printing of Lattice Composites
Rapid 3D Microwave Printing of Lattice Composites