ZIM-Project “Lightweight gear”: Development of a production process for novel lightweight steel alloy gears based on an innovative selective laser melting process together with surface treatment

M.Sc. Philipp Schüßler


The design of components in accordance with the load by means of topology optimization is playing an increasingly important role in industrial product development. Additive manufacturing processes such as selective laser melting (SLM) are considered to have a high potential for future industrial use. The SLM process is characterized by a high degree of design flexibility, making it ideal for the production of topology-optimized components.

In the SLM process, powder layers are applied incrementally and melted locally by a laser beam to build up a component layer by layer. Buildup defects such as pores influence the component quality and lead to anisotropic and inhomogeneous material properties, which have to be taken into account when developing a process-specific topology optimization method.


The main goal of this project is the development of a process-specific topology optimization method for the additive manufacturing of lightweight gears manufactured with steel alloys with a carbon content lower than 0.8 wt.-%. The anisotropic and inhomogeneous material properties resulting from the SLM process are to be taken into account, resulting in the following objectives:

  • Characterization of the process-related mechanical material behavior
  • Investigation of a inductive heat treatment for topology-optimized gears
  • Characterization and correlation between macrostructure and mechanical parameters of the material produced in the SLM process
  • Validation of lightweight design optimization by mechanical component tests on a gear


  • FEM-Simulation (Topology optimization, process simulation)
  • Characterization of the process-related mechanical material behavior
  • Mechanical characterization
  • Metallography