Metal-based additive manufacturing

Direct additive manufacturing of metal components

Additive manufacturing of metal components can be »direct« or »indirect«. In the »direct« production of metal components, the metal component with full-fledged properties is created directly by the additive assembly. In »indirect additive manufacturing«, 3D printing merely creates a green compact, which is then debinded in furnace processes and sintered into the desired metal component. This process chain closely resembles Metal Injection Molding (MIM, conventional manufacturing process of powder metallurgy).

At Fraunhofer IGCV, research is conducted exclusively on direct metal additive manufacturing processes. The following processes are possible with us:  

  • Powder Bed Fusion of Metals using a Laser Beam (PBF-LB/M)
  • High-pressure cold gas spraying
  • Wire and arc-based Directed Energy Deposition (DED)

The research focus at Fraunhofer IGCV is on Powder Bed Fusion of Metals using a Laser Beam (PBF-LB/M), which also has the greatest importance in the industrial environment with a market share of about 70 percent.

Laser-based powder bed fusion: Gyroid structure with stainless steel alloy
© Fraunhofer IGCV
Powder Bed Fusion of Metals using a Laser Beam (PBF-LB/M): Gyroid structure with stainless steel alloy

Additive manufacturing: Powder Bed Fusion of Metals using a Laser Beam (PBF-LB/M)

The materials used must be available in fine powder form to apply a thin layer to the build platform. A powerful laser then selectively melts the powder (laser-based powder bed fusion, LPBF). The locations at which the powder is exposed can be determined directly from the CAD data of the component to be produced. This makes it possible to realize the most complex structures without tools, achieving maximum stability with low weight. Besides, a new form of functional integration is possible. For example, cavities can be left free during the building process to integrate sensor technology into solid material components. In this way, information can be collected in components at points otherwise difficult or impossible to reach.

Functional integration through multi-material solutions

Another research area for function integration is multi-material processing, where at least two different materials are used. These can then have any distribution both in the build direction and in the build plane. A possible application would be, for example, a carbide tool with integrated cooling channels made of copper. This technique can also be used to contact the integrated sensor technology. The development of multi-material solutions is a core competence of Fraunhofer IGCV.

Additive manufacturing in industry

To make the process even more economical in general, constant optimization occurs concerning in-, pre-, and post-process. Therefore, innovative improvements are constantly being implemented concerning the preparation of CAD and construction job data, the setup and preparation of the laser-based powder bed fusion systems, the post-processing of the components, and ideal powder recycling. Fraunhofer IGCV is focusing on these and other research areas at the cutting edge of technology to continue to increase quality and efficiency, reduce costs, and further advance the rapid progress of additive manufacturing in the industry.

Reference projects additive manufacturing


Lightweight gear wheel

  • Processing of special alloys
  • Multi-material processing and customer-specific process optimization
  • Function-integrated lightweight components
  • Process chains and metal-CFRP composites


The aim of the CLLAIM project (Creating KnowLedge and SkilLs in AddItive Manufacturing) is to develop a standardized education and training system within the EU for skilled workers in the field of additive manufacturing.



The MULTIMATERIAL Center Augsburg is one of the largest additive manufacturing projects in Germany and Europe.

Further reference projects

Here you will find an overview of various reference projects at Fraunhofer IGCV.

Cooperation with Fraunhofer IGCV

We will be happy to find an individual solution for you.

contact persons

All contact persons for specific project inquiries.