Intelligence inside metal components

Nov 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: Researchers use 3D printers to create custom medical implants

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Printing of components with functional ink

Apr 08, 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 ...

Cycling More Intelligently

Apr 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 ...

Hollow spheres made of metal

Oct 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 ...

Dual simulation improves crash performance

Sep 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 ...

Plastic components from the microwave

Oct 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 ...

Recommended for you

For secure software: X-rays instead of passport control

10 hours ago

Trust is good, control is better. This also applies to the security of computer programs. Instead of trusting "identification documents" in the form of certificates, JOANA, the new software analysis tool, examines the source ...

Razor-sharp TV pictures

12 hours ago

The future of movie, sports and concert broadcasting lies in 4K definition, which will bring cinema quality TV viewing into people's homes. 4K Ultra HD has four times as many pixels as today's Full HD. And ...

Michigan team finds security flaws in traffic lights

13 hours ago

What if attackers could manipulate traffic lights so that accidents would happen with mayhem as the result? That is a question many would rather put off for another day but authorities feeling responsible ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

theken101
not rated yet Nov 24, 2009
Add RFID to firearm frames, so the guns can be tracked anywhere, always.
PPihkala
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.
antialias
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.