The overall goal of the project is to be able to offer each customer the best possible production variant for their individual application in the area of rapid prototyping of metal components. This is based, for example, on the required number of pieces, the complexity of the geometry to be produced and the required quality for surface and freedom from pores as well as the price.

For simple undercut geometries, investment casting should remain the favoured production method. Depending on the variant of the master model (wax or PMMA), very good to good surface qualities can be achieved compared to 3D printing, which plays a decisive role especially for surfaces that are difficult to access for post-processing. In order to remain competitive with 3D printing in terms of price and delivery time in such applications in the long term, it is essential to make the process chain in investment casting more effective and to expand the possibilities with regard to the complexity of geometries. This project will focus primarily on the production of master models using 3D printing. The printing of model waxes and water-soluble waxes for the production of complex master models as well as the production of burn-out models using various 3D printing processes (SLA, SLS, etc.) and the further treatment of these models within the process chain will be investigated. The possibilities for manufacturing 3D-printed injection moulds and silicone moulds as well as ceramic cores will also be discussed.

In parallel, metal 3D printing is to be integrated into the corporate environment of NRU GmbH in order to be able to offer customers individual solutions for complex undercut geometries. This will initially be done by awarding such contracts to external partners. To this end, a network of external service providers for printed metal components is to be established. Since the post-processing of 3D-printed components is of particular importance (support removal, surface finish), partners who specialise in the post-processing of 3D-printed metal components using various finishing technologies are also to be integrated into this network.