Intelligence inside metal components

November 24, 2009
Metallic components are produced by means of Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), with integrated RFID chip; pendant of the integrated RFID chip (front). © Fraunhofer IFAM

Up to now, extreme production temperatures made it impossible to equip metallic components with RFID chips during the operating process. At Euromold in Frankfurt (Dec. 2-5), Germany, Fraunhofer researchers present a variation on a process that makes the non-destructive integration of radio chips a reality.

Whether it's CD packaging, containers or identification cards: RFID tags () are increasingly finding their way into everyday life. They make it possible to label objects or goods and identify them automatically by radio frequency. The appropriate scanner can read and process the data contained in the label. »Smart labels« can be affixed to goods under production conditions of up to 100 degrees Celsius. But at higher temperatures - such as with laser fusion - they fall apart: the metal components are being manufactured out of stainless steel powder, using a laser at temperatures in excess of 1400 degrees Celsius. Such production conditions precluded the use of radio-based identification - until now.

Recently, researchers from the Fraunhofer-Institute for Manufacturing and Advanced Materials IFAM in Bremen developed a new, non-destructive process. They use the »Rapid Manufacturing« method: A machine produces a component based on a three-dimensional CAD model, building it layer-by-layer directly from the computer. The laser melts off the areas of each metal powder layer that are intended to be solid. Next, the building platform is lowered and the process restarts until the component is completed. Fraunhofer scientists can control this process in a manner that allows the RFID to be installed and completely encased by the material.

»This new process finally puts the intelligence into the metal component. You can store critical information in the radio tags, like the serial number or the manufacture date. So, for example, companies now can make their top-grade replacement parts tamper-proof and resistant to fraud,« explains project manager Claus Aumund-Kopp. If someone tries to remove the chip, they will wind up destroying it in the attempt. And soon, it will be possible to do more than just reading the identification code. Conceivably, it might even be possible to store information during the period of usage. Experts also envision the potential of this process as it relates to sensors or actuators: With the aid of temperature or expansion sensors, it may be possible to record data on thermal or mechanical stresses on the components.

In addition, the new Fraunhofer Additive Manufacturing Alliance will present technologies and services along the entire value creation chain. This includes everything from additive manufacturing technologies and tools manufacturing through to tooling, repair and maintenance. Ten institutes have joined together under the aegis of the alliance.

Source: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (news : web)

Explore further: Printing of components with functional ink

Related Stories

Printing of components with functional ink

April 8, 2005

Time is money - even in component manufacturing. Researchers can continuously print out three-dimensional metal parts using a rapid manufacturing process. The unique feature is that they can vary the material composition ...

Cycling More Intelligently

April 11, 2008

Modern bicycles leave nothing to be desired. 21, 24, 27 gears! For many amateur cyclists, such luxury is too much of a good thing. They change gear too infrequently and too late, get out of breath and don’t enjoy the ride. ...

Hollow spheres made of metal

October 13, 2009

Producing metallic hollow spheres is complicated: It has not yet been possible to make the small sizes required for new high-tech applications. Now for the first time researchers have manufactured ground hollow spheres measuring ...

Dual simulation improves crash performance

September 14, 2009

Crash tests often produce startling results. A new simulation process which factors in deformation during production as well as preliminary damage can predict the results of a crash test more accurately than ever.

Plastic components from the microwave

October 20, 2006

Manufacturing fiber-reinforced plastic components for ships, facades of buildings and wind power plants is a technically difficult process. Researchers are now developing a new, environment-friendly process that enables the ...

Recommended for you

Microsoft aims at Apple with high-end PCs, 3D software

October 26, 2016

Microsoft launched a new consumer offensive Wednesday, unveiling a high-end computer that challenges the Apple iMac along with an updated Windows operating system that showcases three-dimensional content and "mixed reality."

Making it easier to collaborate on code

October 26, 2016

Git is an open-source system with a polarizing reputation among programmers. It's a powerful tool to help developers track changes to code, but many view it as prohibitively difficult to use.

Dutch unveil giant vacuum to clean outside air

October 25, 2016

Dutch inventors Tuesday unveiled what they called the world's first giant outside air vacuum cleaner—a large purifying system intended to filter out toxic tiny particles from the atmosphere surrounding the machine.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Nov 24, 2009
Add RFID to firearm frames, so the guns can be tracked anywhere, always.
not rated yet Nov 24, 2009
Add RFID to firearm frames, so the guns can be tracked anywhere, always.

Sorry, too costly and too easy to foil by using current manufacturing means, I guess.
not rated yet Nov 25, 2009
One should note that the inclusion of the RFID is the new part - not the layer-by-layer rapid prototyping process using metal. That has been around for at least a decade.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.