Unlocking 3D Printing Potentials for Final Automotive Parts Technology Is Aim of SYMPA       

By Fabian Wanke

Acquisition or Partnership

Henkel is partnering in a research and development project called SYMPA, that is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF1) and the Federal Ministry Republic of Austria Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT2).  The German and Austrian project consortium aims to develop new materials, printing methodologies and post-processing technologies for durable Stereolithography (SLA) products using Digital Light Processing (DLP) with a focus on automotive applications.  SYMPA started end of 2018 and involves five partners bringing different expertise along the entire value chain of the SLA technology. 

The project partners believe that the SLA technology has a huge potential to enable the production of customized parts and products specifically designed for customer needs especially in automotive.  Thus, SYMPA aims to overcome some of the weaknesses of current SLA materials, such as low mechanical properties, low durability and low UV stability.  The innovation objectives include the development of a new photosensitive polymer with increased long-term thermal and mechanical properties, the fibre reinforcement of the polymer and surface modification technologies to further enhance the environmental resistance of products.  All developed technologies will be demonstrated based on real automotive parts considering the requirements on industrial production processes. 

SYMPA is coordinated by the Institute of Aircraft Design (IFB) of the University of Stuttgart and involves partners across the entire value chain of the SLA technology including material specialists, machine producers and research institutes: 

Henkel AG & Co. KGaA has developed novel high-performance photopolymers with improved mechanical and thermal durability for the SLA technology.

The Institute of Aircraft Design (IFB) brings a strong background in lightweight construction and composite applications, including fibre reinforced SLA materials for strongly increased mechanical properties and fatigue limit.

Rapid Shape GmbH offers high speed open 3D printing systems that can be adopted with different process extensions to meet various material or customer requirements and environmental conditions.

Joanneum Research and INOCON Technologie GmbH are specialists for development and application of plasma technology for coating and activation, i.e. deposition, post-processing and surface modification for better mechanical and environmental resistance, controlled wettability and electric conductivity of polymers.

cirp GmbH as experienced 3D-printing service provider enables technology demonstrations on real automotive structures and improved design processes of SLA components.

SYMPA has been set up for three years until end of 2021 resulting in an SLA toolbox as preliminary stage for tailored 3D printing solutions in the automotive industry. 

Fabian Wanke, ARC Advisory Group, commented, “New raw materials specially developed for AM are exactly what end users, machine builders and research institutes have been demanding for a long time.  Henkel and its cooperation partners have thus taken a clever, strategic step.  The AM industry needs more such projects, which also consider the sustainability and recyclability of new AM starting materials, both for plastics and metals.  We demand this from ARC, among other things, in our Strategy Report for AM, which will be published soon.”

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