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Etteplan Breakthrough: Electronics successfully embedded in a 3D printed metal object by Etteplan

Press release – Published: 08.11.2019 10:00:00

Etteplan press release November 8, 2019 at 10.00 a.m. EET

Finnish Etteplan and German EOS, the world’s leading technology supplier in the field of industrial 3D printing of metals and polymers, have succeeded in 3D printing metal objects with embedded electronics inside the object in a way that enables mass production. This technology has enormous potential in the manufacturing industry.

The first printed demo device has an integrated circuit board with sensors, and the metal shell of the piece acts as an antenna. To date, this kind of solution has been regarded as challenging, if not impossible, for conventional technology.

“Industrial 3D printing of metal is not a new thing, as various parts of industrial production equipment are already being 3D-printed around the world. Additionally, electronics can be placed inside the 3D printed objects, when they are made of plastic, for example. Metal powder-bed fusion printing (PBF), on the other hand, requires such high temperatures that the electronics have not been able to withstand it. Now we have succeeded in keeping the electronics in good working order even when 3D-printed in metal, ” says Tero Leppänen, Director from Etteplan’s Software and Embedded Solutions service area .

There is a vast range of possible use-cases for 3D-printed metal objects with embedded intelligence. The technology could find its use in applications where the placement of sensors is currently difficult or operating conditions are such that the sensors would not withstand them on their own.

“One example is a lifting hook, which may include sensors in the future. The sensors notify increased weight, track fatigue, and measure external forces. This data can then be used to predict the need for maintenance or to estimate the device’s lifespan, ” says Vesa Saastamoinen, Project Manager at Etteplan.

In the now 3D-printed demo device, the embedded electronics consist of sensors tracking acceleration, temperature, air pressure, and air humidity.

The breakthrough was made possible by an interdisciplinary development team, with experts from various fields. Etteplan has been investing in engineering for additive manufacturing know-how and experimenting for years. Now the engineering skills of Etteplan’s international organization combined with EOS manufacturing knowledge lead the way to this ground-breaking 3D printing success.

The demo device was presented to the public on Wednesday the 6th of November in Technology 19 event in Helsinki, Finland.

Additional information:
Tero Leppänen, Director, Software and Embedded Solutions service area, Etteplan, tel. +358 40 595 5238
Vesa Saastamoinen, Project Manager, Etteplan AMO Smart parts, tel. +358 40 836 4196
Outi Torniainen, SVP, Marketing and Communications, Etteplan, tel. +358 10 307 3302

Etteplan in brief

Etteplan provides solutions for industrial equipment and plant engineering, software and embedded solutions, and technical documentation solutions to the world’s leading companies in the manufacturing industry. Our services are geared to improve the competitiveness of our customers’ products, services and engineering processes throughout the product life cycle. The results of Etteplan’s innovative engineering can be seen in numerous industrial solutions and everyday products. In 2018, Etteplan had a turnover of approximately EUR 236 million. The company currently has over 3,400 professionals in Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and China. Etteplan's shares are listed on Nasdaq Helsinki Ltd under the ETTE ticker.