A prototype of a noise barrier with photovoltaic modules for generating power along highways

Project description

Industry/application group:

Prototypes for profiles and assembly of integrated components


Assembly of a miniature prototype of a noise barrier with photovoltaic technology for utility model protection, VR demonstration, and coordination of profile contours for production in extrusion presses.

3D-printed prototypes

Prototypes and functional models are increasingly being created using 3D printing to get an initial impression of how dimensions can be improved or simplified.

Manufacturing profiles using the SLS process may seem a little unconventional, as the FDM process entails lower material costs. The prototypes had to be bondable, robust and coatable without pre-treatment, however, so SLS 3D printing was used.

Four iterations of the profiles were printed in order to achieve optimal results. The molded contours and design of the profiles both played a part in the extrusion process. The contour radii, internal reinforcement ribs and strength-related parameters all had to be taken into account so that the profiles would interact as effectively as possible when deployed in the photovoltaic substructure.

In the specific case of the noise barrier, the cable ducts and various sealing strips that were subsequently inserted were the subject of particular attention. Even configurations that appear simple, such as profiles, often represent complicated systems that have to be coordinated effectively in order to offer custom solutions.

The metric screws used in the assembly were also scaled for the prototype and screwed in directly using a thread, to ensure that they would function in the final application. The option of integrating the hexagon socket screws into the 3D-printed version using the TIGITAL® 3D set was given due consideration and was deemed viable. Precisely fitting holes and cut-outs for feeding through the cable were also executed for the prototype.

The main advantage of this prototype is that it represents a realistic model, albeit scaled from its original size to an edge length of about 5m and a height of about 3m. Production of the extruded profiles can commence immediately, so this approach offers significant advantages:

  • Reduced time to market
  • Early optimization of component dimensions for production
  • Consideration of customer requirements regarding final assembly

Indirect profitability through powder coating in real production

As powder coatings cannot be applied to 3D-printed parts made of polyamides, due to their heat resistance, customers often have to switch to wet coatings. In addition to potential issues with adhesion problems, using polyamides can also lead to annoying variations in color.

Working with TIGITAL® 3D Set has opened up numerous other synergies due to our many years of expertise in powder coating with high-quality TIGER Drylac® coating solutions and printing with TIGITAL® Inks & Tattoo (digital inks and powder for industrial printing systems).

Opportunities abound for improving the visual appearance of prototypes and finished extruded profiles by powder coating and printing. The final products, which are manufactured from steel or aluminum profiles on the basis of the 3D-printed model, can be finished with TIGER Drylac® for the best possible protection against corrosion and weather effects. 

“We had relatively little previous experience with 3D printing aimed at optimizing extruded profiles, but we really wanted to produce some prototypes to display at trade fairs. Our customers were thrilled by the miniature noise barriers, which led to many enquiries, so they clearly sparked huge interest in our concept. The TIGITAL® 3D-Set team provided us with fantastic support and implemented our specifications to perfection.”

Joachim Till | Managing Director | draw4you


TIGER’s verbal and written recommendations for the processing, use and application of our products, including the information, product properties (e.g. mechanical properties and emission properties) and processing parameters (e.g. laser power, part bed temperatures, post-curing conditions)  provided in this use case, are based upon our experience and in accordance with present technological standards. These are given only in order to support the user, are noncommittal and do not constitute any additional commitment or product specification. The user shall be solely responsible for checking and verifying the suitability and/or fitness of our products and exemplary processing conditions for the intended use, application and process. Further, the user shall be solely responsible for the appropriate, safe and legally compliant use, processing, handling and application of our products as well as for any related 3D printed parts. To the extent permitted by applicable law, TIGER, its employees, boards, OWNERS, agents, subcontractors or affiliates can NOT be made liable for any damages, whether caused directly or indirectly BY or being related to this use case, or for any related loss of profit, loss of goodwill, or any other consequential damages. 

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