Group photo with Brandenburg's Minister of Economics Prof. Dr. Jörg Steinbach

Lightweight design: a location with the potential to take off

The 1st edition of Cottbus’ Day of Additive Manufacturing holds promise for the economic development of the region of Brandenburg. The interest in additive manufacturing is high and so is the chance of creating a knowledge centre in Cottbus.

Lighter, safer, standardised: five research institutes and companies from the capital region have joined forces to build equipment containers that are unique in the world. New joining technologies and extremely lightweight hybrid laminates play an important role in their endeavours because they can do just about anything conventional materials cannot do. Knowledge, experience and a spirit of innovation converge in this project.

Germany is the home of industrial 3D printing and therefore it meets all the requirements to play a pioneering role. The 1st edition of Cottbus’ Day of Additive Manufacturing clearly showed that the Cottbus region, in particular, has an excellent chance of setting the tone in this future-oriented area.

During a 3D printing production process a certain object is created layer by layer and not by removing material, as is the case during milling or drilling. This reduces the amount of waste material that is produced. Hence the name “additive manufacturing” derived from the Latin word “additivum”, which means “added”. Thanks to this special manufacturing method the components are lighter, more stable since they have fewer breaking points and they can be produced quickly and very cost-efficiently.

Table with workpiece and people in blurred background
Get-together, hands-on part and exhibition in the Panta Rhei Hall

The material properties of the components produced in this way are also being continuously improved through a permanent optimisation of the processes themselves. A wide variety of materials such as metals, plastics, cement, foodstuffs, sugar and chocolate or even organic materials are turned into perfect products.

This is why Brandenburg’s Minister for Economic Affairs, Prof. Jörg Steinbach, emphatically called upon the participants in his welcoming speech and said: “Cottbus, you better get going!” The entire region now had the unique opportunity to become a groundbreaking centre for technology located at the juncture between research and industrial production. Such an outstanding location would give the entire state of Brandenburg a location advantage.

One in a suit at the lectern opposite the auditorium
Prof. Jörg Steinbach, Brandenburg’s Minister for Economic Affairs, in the large auditorium

“With regard to this emerging technology it is particularly important to focus on the interactions between the various research institutes, companies and service providers in order to pave the way for innovations,” said Andreas Nick of APWorks in his presentation. The investment costs of large industrial-scale 3D printers are too high for many medium-sized companies to take the risk associated with the acquisition. The official inauguration of a production facility on the premises of the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg offers an opportunity to strengthen the transfer of knowledge between institutions of higher learning and the industry.

Especially in the transport sector, large companies such as Deutsche Bahn, and companies in the aviation sector have already recognized the great potential of this technology. When every gram counts and material failure leads to costly delays and maintenance work, additive manufacturing can play to its strengths. “Pilot projects have helped advance the technology,” said Arvid Eirich of the network “Mobility goes Additive” in his presentation.

2 men in conversation in front of lightweight production parts
Detlef Haje, Siemens AG (left) and Arvid Eirich, Mobility goes Additive (right)

At the end of the conference one thing was clear: The interest in additive manufacturing is high and so is the chance of creating a knowledge centre in Cottbus. However, companies wishing to approach this innovative technology are also facing obvious obstacles. All the more important is the initiative Innovation Hub 13. This hub provides transfer scouts in the field of lightweight design. They foster the transfer of knowledge between the respective relevant players and can also point you in the right direction with regard to prototyping and experimental manufacturing to help you overcome obstacles that stand in your way when it comes to additive manufacturing.

The following link will take you to the presentations of the speakers at the conference:

Transfer scouts in the field of lightweight design

Dr.-Ing. Sarah Schneider
Transfer Scout Lightweight Design / Innovation Hub 13
Technical University of Applied Sciences in Wildau
Phone: +49 (0) 3375 508 498
Mobile Phone: +49 (0) 175 1957644

Marco Lubosch, M.Sc.
Transfer Scout Lightweight Design / Innovation Hub 13
Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg
Phone: +49 355 69 4464
Mobile Phone: +49 170 282 63 89

Dr. rer. Nat. Stefan Kamlage
Transfer Scout Lightweight Design/ Innovation Hub 13
Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP
Phone: 03328 330 299

The Cluster Metal Industry as well as the Cluster Plastics and Chemistry of Economic Development Agency Brandenburg support the event as partners.