ThinKing October 2022: Digitised swarm intelligence for additive manufacturing



Collecting data together, sharing swarm intelligence, and bring lightweight products to the market more quickly and economically – the ThinKing for October 2022 goes to Rosswag GmbH for this idea. The launch of the platform is scheduled for the Formnext 2022 in November.

Where the strength of one fails, the action of the many is required. “AddiMap” – a marketplace for additive manufacturing – follows the digital platform economy trend. It is a marketplace for trading in data: validated starting materials, process parameters, and resulting material data from and for all market participants in additive manufacturing. Collecting data together, sharing swarm intelligence, and bring lightweight products to the market more quickly and economically – the ThinKing for October 2022 goes to Rosswag GmbH for this idea. The launch of the platform is scheduled for the Formnext 2022 in November.

The Baden-Württemberg State Agency for Lightweight Design will be presenting this innovation with their ThinKing in October 2022. Every month, Leichtbau BW GmbH promotes innovative lightweight technology products and services in Baden-Württemberg under this label.

At a glance:

  • Improve market opportunities: Lowering development costs reduces the prices of lightweight components produced using resource-efficient additive manufacturing, thereby accelerating their distribution.
  • Shorten development times: Available data accelerates the time to market for products produced using additive manufacturing.
  • Share knowledge efficiently: Once data is collected, it can be used by all participants.
  • Tap into new business models: Parameter sets and validated starting materials generate new revenues for participants who provide data.

In additive manufacturing, as in lightweight technology, working together allows participants to achieve more. “No matter how hard we try, we cannot qualify every material for additive manufacturing” says Gregor Graf, Head of Engineering at Rosswag GmbH. Due to the large number of potential materials and process parameters required for additive manufacturing, no company can collect all of the data alone. “This led to the idea for “AddiMap”, to build a community on an online platform that could share knowledge and make it easier to get started with additive processes, as well as accelerate the time to market for products produced using additive manufacturing” says Gregor Graf.

The current situation is unsatisfactory and inefficient: available material and process data is distributed across many companies in the AM industry. Duplicate development work by different actors due to poor coordination or collaboration uses up resources, and in some cases interferes with new developments. Implementing processes is very time-consuming for those getting started with additive manufacturing, due to the complexity of the technologies involved and the market. High prices for starting materials and complex process development result in high component prices. Once a company has invested and qualified the material for an order as well as evaluated process expertise, in the past it was still difficult to use this data for similar orders in the same company, due to restricted portability.

Data democracy accelerates developments

The goal of the “AddiMap” platform project is to advance industrialisation and market growth in additive manufacturing technology, for more sustainable and resource-saving production processes, and make this technology available to the entire market as an open system. The project was launched in 2020 alongside NuCOS, a software company, and based on experience with production of over 60,000 3D printed metal components from over 40 internally qualified materials.

“For the platform to truly work well, it needs to generate benefits for everyone involved. This is true both for the providers of parameter and material data sets, as well as for users who take advantage of and download these data sets in their production. “Therefore, the platform will offer added economic benefit for all actors throughout the entire additive manufacturing process chain” says Gregor Graf.

The first service of the “AddiMap” platform will be a marketplace for trading validated process parameters and associated material data. The focus will initially be on metallic materials that are finished with the LPBF process. Rosswag GmbH has been working in this area since 2014, and will be able to add a large number of data sets itself. For data providers focused on R&D activities, the marketplace will create new business models for selling unproductive parameters and data that are going unused by the provider. However, marketing data can also be a new source of income for AM companies whose production order has expired.

Increasing productivity with validated data

Instead of validating the quality and productivity of optimised parameter sets over the course of multiple weeks with in-house test series and analyses, users can purchase results directly on the marketplace to save time. The price of a data set will be based on the work required to collect the data, and will be between approximately 5,000 and 20,000 euros.

This allows users to improve the productivity of their AM systems, for instance, by more than 80 percent compared to generic standard parameters, with only a low investment in validated data. Verified material and process data will be available to less experienced AM users at a high level of technological development, reducing scrap and allowing the highest quality production right from the start.

In addition, in the future Rosswag GmbH wants to make it possible for multiple actors to invest in development projects for new materials and process parameters together. These kinds of co-innovation projects can generate synergies to qualify materials and processes required for specific industrial needs over the entire AM process chain, with the help of development-focused partners and experts. “This is why the B2B platform is created as an open platform; it is secure and fulfils data protection law requirements” says Gregor Graf.

Material efficiency and diversity thanks to swarm intelligence

The platform provides simple, inexpensive access to validated starting materials, process parameters, and resulting material data, in order to establish lighter weight components in an industrial environment with the help of additive manufacturing. Unnecessary duplicate development work is reduced on the market, since users can access previously generated results.

This means more materials are available for production and product development. Thanks to various cost savings and more efficient production processes throughout the supply chain, prices for components produced through additive manufacturing can be lowered significantly. This, in turn, will result in more applications on the market for components produced using additive manufacturing, thereby accelerating the process due to saved resources from optimised functional design. “We will officially present the platform to the AM community at the Formnext 2022. Once the community is ready to exchange data, all market participants will benefit” says Gregor Graf.

About Rosswag GmbH

The family owned and operated company Rosswag GmbH was founded in 1911 and is a leading provider of forged components with 200 employees, working under the name Edelstahl Rosswag. The Rosswag Engineering division was founded in 2014. This division offers a comprehensive, fully integrated process chain for 3D metal printing services with in-house metal powder production for manufacturing functionally optimised metal components from over 40 materials using an LPBF process. The company's services range from prototypes to tools and series products to individual qualification of new materials and process parameters in its in-house material laboratory.