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Information for Researchers No. 91 | 4 December 2020
Priority Programme “Materials for Additive Manufacturing” (SPP 2122)

In 2017, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established the Priority Programme “Materials for Additive Manufacturing” (SPP 2122). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the second three-year funding period.

Lasers in production processes, including additive manufacturing, are becoming more and more powerful, but the micropowder feedstocks available are often inadequate for today’s laser processing tasks. Metal powders often lead to process instabilities as well as porosities and defects in the resulting components. In the field of polymer powders, there is also a lack of a sufficiently wide range of processable materials and a limitation in the final components’ property profiles compared to conventional processing routes. Fundamental research to shape the process chain right from the start is needed, i.e. powder materials development.

The Priority Programme’s main objective is the synthesis of new metal and polymer powders for efficient laser-based 3D additive manufacturing by means of formulations, additivations and (chemical) modifications of both, new and commercial powders. By this, the range of powder materials accessible for laser-based additive manufacturing shall be enhanced significantly. Improving the processability includes requirements like efficient, low cycling time, highly reproducible and precise laser-based additive manufacturing processes. Hence, a recursive research, where the knowledge on materials behaviour during laser-based additive manufacturing is used as input for improved materials design, and vice versa, is preferred. A deepened, preferably predictive, understanding of the material’s behaviour during laser-based additive manufacturing by means of suitable analytical and theoretical examination methods is desired.

Research will be carried out on materials for laser-based 3D additive manufacturing, namely laser powder bed fusion or direct energy deposition, which show a high need for improvement. These are limited to polymer and metal micro powders and their chemical as well as metallurgical and additive-based modifications. The Priority Programme also aims at addressing scientific questions and concepts bridging the two materials classes of polymers and metals. Exemplary scientific challenges are:

  • Specific adaptation of material parameters like absorption coefficients for infrared and visible lasers, crystallisation behaviour or calorimetric properties to improve the laser-based additive manufacturing process.
  • Development of micro powders with improved reusability, in the context of resource efficiency of the laser-based additive manufacturing process.
  • Development of scalable micro powder synthesis processes, aiming at an optimised crystallisation-melting-window or additive dispersion while providing spherical and size-controlled powders, including improved polymer chain mobility, kinetic control of melting and resolidification, or defined alloy recrystallisation.
  • Significant extension of the property profiles of laser-based additive manufacturing parts by new and improved materials with e.g. adapted meltability, flowability as well as wetting behaviour.
  • Improved understanding of the melting and sintering dynamics by in-situ process analytics as well as theoretical methods. In-situ process analytics shall provide information beyond imaging or temperature measurement, i.e. spectral or microstructural information linked to composition, processability, crystallisation, ageing, or reusability.
  • Improved understanding of the relationship between materials structure and processability on different length scales, e.g. via modelling and simulation.

The scientific frame of the Priority Programme is defined by the following criteria:

  • Projects need to address the dosage form of micro powders with a set of well-characterised properties and parameters, respectively. Powder characterisation (i.e., size, flowability, composition) shall be carried out within the project itself or collaborative within the Priority Programme by the strongly recommended set of methods listed on the programme’s website (see below).
  • The laser processability conditions shall be well documented (i.e., wavelength, spot size, relative hatch distance, specific energy density, powder layer thickness, scan pattern, recoating speed, atmosphere) following the strongly recommended set of methods listed on the programme’s website.
  • The detailed structural, mechanical, and/or chemical characterisation of the additively manufactured part is mandatory to understand the material’s response to the manufacturing process.
  • The powder synthesis, modification, and formulation approaches shall be capable of providing a kilogramme-scale amount of powder material that laser-based additive manufacturing requires for statistically meaningful fundamental experiments.
  • Commercial powders which are merely mechanically or thermally post-treated (e.g. simple fractionation or thermal rounding of commonly available steel or polyamide powders) or mechanically mixed micro powders are not of interest. Powder materials excluded from the Priority Programme are ceramics, semiconductors and glasses. Those materials classes may be studied as (nano- or matrix-) additives to the polymer and metal powders. The volume fraction of surface additives shall be smaller than 1 vol%.
  • Understanding the materials and the beginning of the process chain is in focus rather than the final component. Therefore, laser process parameter studies on given materials without a focus on materials development aspects will not be funded. Accordingly, contrary to structural or chemical properties, optimisation of the final components’ functional properties (e.g. biological, optical, magnetic, electrical functions) shall not be addressed.
  • Projects that focus on 2D surface processing, methods in which other beam sources (e.g. X-rays) are not within the scope of the Priority Programme. Furthermore, the focus is not on the development of beam sources, machines or optical components.

The Priority Programme aims to bring together materials scientists and photonics researchers. To this end, interdisciplinary and transregional cooperation between the two fields of “materials” and “laser-based additive manufacturing” in the form of tandem projects (joint projects with applicants from both fields) is highly desired. Projects that are not proposed as tandem projects will need to include additional scientific justification.

Specific links across the project boundaries are envisaged (e.g. sample exchange, analytical characterisation, modelling data). Therefore, each project should specify plans to exchange knowledge, materials or data with other projects. Applicants need to specify their planned inter-project collaborations comprehensively. This specification ideally advances both fields, the metal and polymer powders. In this context, the following topical areas, addressing common questions, are proposed:

  • Particle synthesis and formulation: How shall materials properties be adapted to the laser-based additive manufacturing process via matrix modification (e.g. alloying, doping, compounding) or surface modification (e.g. nanoparticle adsorption, surface chemistry) of powders? How shall target properties like flowability, wetting, porosity or (heterogeneous) nucleation be adapted to the laser-based additive manufacturing process via surface modification of powders?
  • In-situ measurements: How can in-situ X-ray imaging/diffraction, or in-situ spectroscopy (e.g. infrared spectroscopy, optical emission spectroscopy) contribute to understand the melting and recrystallisation dynamics? How can in-situ spectroscopy be used to predict micropowder aging or reusability?
  • Process dynamics: How can simulation of heat transfer, melt pool dynamics, powder spreading, and microstructure formation contribute to understand the process dynamics?

Furthermore, an interlaboratory testing (“Round Robin”, see the programme’s website, is planned within the Priority Programme to

  • study the influence of nano-additivated metal and polymer micropowders on processability and part properties by laser powder bed fusion under standard operating procedures,
  • document powder properties via the set of characterisation methods defined above,
  • produce seed data for principal component analyses of the research data

where each partner shall have an active role, in particular by laser processing, in-situ process analytics, powder or part characterisation, or accompanied modelling.

Your specific contributions to the interlaboratory test that will start synchronised with the second funding period shall be included in section 2.3 “Work Programme” of the proposal. Please use section 6.4. “Researchers in Germany with whom you have agreed to cooperate on this project” of your proposal to specify your contributions to the collaborations with other tandem projects.

Within the Priority Programme female and early career researchers will be supported in developing their careers, so members of both groups are strongly encouraged to submit a proposal.

Proposals must be written in English and submitted to the DFG by 21 June 2021. Please note that proposals can only be submitted via elan, the DFG’s electronic proposal processing system.

Applicants must be registered in elan prior to submitting a proposal to the DFG. If you have not yet registered, please note that you must do so by 7 June 2021 to submit a proposal under this call; registration requests received after this time cannot be considered.

If you would like to submit a proposal for a new project within the existing Priority Programme, please go to Proposal Submission – New Project – Priority Programmes and select “SPP 2122” from the current list of calls. Previous applicants can submit a proposal for the renewal of an existing project under Proposal Submission – Proposal Overview/Renewal Proposal.

In preparing your proposal, please review the programme guidelines (form 50.05, section B) and follow the proposal preparation instructions (form 54.01).

The proposals will be evaluated in the course of a colloquium with short talks and poster presentations, currently scheduled for 21 September 2021.

Further Information

More information on the Priority Programme is available under:

The elan system can be accessed at:

DFG forms 50.05 and 54.01 can be downloaded at:

For scientific enquiries please contact the Priority Programme coordinator:

Questions on the DFG proposal process can be directed to:

Note:

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