Tobias, a look into the future: When do you think 3D printing will have established itself as a manufacturing method for metals?
Tobias Heusel: From my point of view, there is still a long way to go before we are creative enough to take full advantage of the new freedoms in shaping and develop parts for 3D printing at the drop of a hat. We are already mass producing parts and sales are steadily increasing. I could imagine 3D printing becoming established in our field in the next year or two.
Florian, 3D printing of composites is a double challenge. When do you expect the market breakthrough?
Florian Reichert: Yes, it is a challenge, but a highly interesting one. Our high-temperature composites are high-end materials. I am sure that we will open up new applications or improve established applicationso with the new possibilities of additive manufacturing. In my opinion, the real breakthrough in additively manufactured fiber composites will be achieved with a true 3D fiber orientation. This means that the fibers, and thus the strength and stiffness, are oriented in all dimensions. This is what we want to achieve and will achieve. That's why I'm optimistic that we'll be making sales with parts like this in two to three years and then steadily increasing our market share.
Technical Ceramics started 3D printing quite early, Lars. Have you completed your development?
Lars Schnetter: We started eight years ago and have now reached a good level of maturity. However, we are far from having reached the end. One example: for many applications in the defense sector, materials with a B4C content bring decisive weight advantages, which is why our RBSiC/B4C is the main material here. To make the advantages of 3D printing technology accessible to this market as well, we will launch our IntrinSiC-B4C this year. It is a perfect choice especially for complex ballistic protection applications in aerospace, vehicle protection and also body protection. Tight tolerances are another field we are exploring at the moment. As you can see, there is always a next innovation in our pipeline.
Lars Schnetter about IntrinSiC-B4C for ballistic protection applications.
Thank you very much for the interesting exchange!