Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Digital photonic production: science and industry shape the future of production engineering

19.11.2012
The “Digital Photonic Production” research campus in Aachen offers local industry and science a skilled and responsive instrument with which to shape the future of production technology.

Support comes from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF, which has provided financial backing of up to 30 million euros through its “Research Campus – Public-Private Partnerships for Innovation” funding initiative.


Load- and resource optimized wheel bearing manufactured using selective laser melting.
Fraunhofer ILT/Volker Lannert.


Rapid manufacturing of turbine components.
Fraunhofer ILT/Volker Lannert.

The Chair of Laser Technology LLT at RWTH Aachen University emerged from the national competition as one of ten winners, having coordinated a proposals consortium made up of industry partners and further RWTH institutes.

A new national center for digital photonic production is now being set up in Aachen, in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT, one of the most outstanding facilities for laser technology in Europe, and the initiatives and networks already existing in this field. The intensive cooperation between research and industry also means the chances are good for the founding of spin-off companies.

The aim of the BMBF’s nationwide German funding initiative “Research Campus – Public-Private Partnerships for Innovation” is to offer long-term support, at an early stage, to encourage universities, research institutes and businesses to work together in ten economically and socially relevant technology fields. Federal Research Minister Annette Schavan announced the ten winners of the initiative on September 25, 2012, among them the Digital Photonic Production research campus coordinated by Prof. Poprawe through the Chair of Laser Technology LLT. Over the course of the next 15 years, the research cluster will have up to an additional 2 million euros at its disposal each year, on top of its own contributions, with which to systematically drive this pioneering issue forward.

“From bits to photons to atoms”

This phrase sums up the technological potential of digital photonic production. On the basis of numerical data, light can be harnessed as a tool for manufacturing customized components of almost any complexity cost-effectively in small batches. Photon-based production methods for rapid manufacturing have been a research and development topic in Aachen for many years now. One of the research team’s major achievements was the development of the first process for the fabrication of metallic dental prostheses using selective laser melting, which subsequently led to the creation of new business models in dental technology. Professor Poprawe and his team received the NRW Innovation Award 2011 for developing the SLM additive manufacturing process, now widely deployed in many sectors of industry.

Automotive and aerospace companies are currently testing the potential of such production methods to optimize component functionality and the consumption of resources. The next step involves linking the laser-based production processes to the upstream design and construction plans and the downstream processes and logistic issues. The aims of the industrial partners include channeling tailor-made components in small quantities into construction plants designed for mass production, involving customers in the design of individual components, and systematically reducing existing spare parts stores.

Digital photonic production is not limited to additive manufacturing processes. Further production strategies being systematically pursued within the scope of the BMBF funding initiative include the generation of nanometer-thin structures via abrasion using ultra-short-pulse lasers, laser polishing of metals, glass and plastic, and the generation of three-dimensional microfluidic systems using selective laser etching.

The 15-year funding period for the research cluster is also intended to be used to establish the fundamental requirements that will make digital photonic production marketable in many sectors of manufacturing industry. The actual challenge is linking planning, construction, design, material selection, production and logistics in such a way that flexible series production using additive, abrasive and functionalizing laser processes is economically viable, irrespective of batch size. Digital photonic production opens up new business models and services for the manufacturing industry, such as co-creation and mass customization. Important future fields of application include mobility, energy, health, and information and communication technology.

National center of expertise based on four pillars

In addition to the activities of the BMBF research cluster, cooperation between research and industry in Aachen is also being furthered by a unique initiative of RWTH Aachen. A new site covering approx. 250,000 square meters has been prepared to allow companies to set up business in direct proximity to the university campus, giving them the possibility to work in collaboration with the university’s 19 specialist research departments.

One of these subject areas is digital photonic production. Initiatives that already exist in this area include the Integrative Production Technology for High-Wage Countries cluster of excellence (comprising 25 research establishments with an available budget of 40 million euros spread over 5 years) and the Fraunhofer innovation cluster Integrative Production Technology for Energy-Efficient Turbomachinery, TurPro (in which the 16 industrial partners include global players such as MAN Diesel & Turbo, Siemens PG, Rolls-Royce Germany, and MTU Aero Engines, and total research funding amounts to 10.25 million euros). As a member of these research consortia, the scientists in Aachen have, for example, developed innovative production technology that significantly reduces the manufacturing costs of blisks, or blade-integrated disks. Laser material deposition enables these essential components of aircraft engines and gas turbines to be manufactured much more efficiently, with material savings of up to 60 percent and a reduction of approx. 30 percent in the overall production time. The cluster of excellence has also developed automobile components for lightweight construction that are up to 40 percent lighter than conventional components when produced using SLM, including topologically optimized wheel bearings.

“Photonic process chains” symposium

At EuroMold 2012 in Frankfurt, the BMBF will be hosting a symposium entitled “Photonic process chains – the revolution in production?” on November 28-29 in collaboration with Fraunhofer ILT, VDMA, and DEMAT. Tool and mold manufacturers, automotive industry suppliers and manufacturers, medical technology companies and representatives from the turbomachinery and aircraft industries will deliver presentations on the possibilities and challenges of intelligently linked photonic production processes. At the heart of the presentations and discussions lies the necessity to comprehend the manufacture of a product not just in terms of the individual steps involved, but rather to view the entirety of the various processes involved within the context of the complete process chain.

Further Contact
Dipl.-Phys. Christian Hinke
Head of the Integrated Production Group at the Chair for Laser Technology LLT at RWTH Aachen University
Phone +49 241 8906-352
christian.hinke@ilt.fraunhofer.de
Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT
Steinbachstraße 15
52074 Aachen, Germany
Phone +49 241 8906-0
Fax+49 241 8906-121

Axel Bauer | Fraunhofer Institut
Further information:
http://www.ilt.fraunhofer.de

More articles from Machine Engineering:

nachricht Locating natural resources in the deep sea – easily and eco-friendly
25.04.2016 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

nachricht Aachen Center for Additive Manufacturing
05.04.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

All articles from Machine Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nuclear Pores Captured on Film

Using an ultra fast-scanning atomic force microscope, a team of researchers from the University of Basel has filmed “living” nuclear pore complexes at work for the first time. Nuclear pores are molecular machines that control the traffic entering or exiting the cell nucleus. In their article published in Nature Nanotechnology, the researchers explain how the passage of unwanted molecules is prevented by rapidly moving molecular “tentacles” inside the pore.

Using high-speed AFM, Roderick Lim, Argovia Professor at the Biozentrum and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute of the University of Basel, has not only directly...

Im Focus: 2+1 is Not Always 3 - In the microworld unity is not always strength

If a person pushes a broken-down car alone, there is a certain effect. If another person helps, the result is the sum of their efforts. If two micro-particles are pushing another microparticle, however, the resulting effect may not necessarily be the sum their efforts. A recent study published in Nature Communications, measured this odd effect that scientists call “many body.”

In the microscopic world, where the modern miniaturized machines at the new frontiers of technology operate, as long as we are in the presence of two...

Im Focus: Tiny microbots that can clean up water

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute Stuttgart have developed self-propelled tiny ‘microbots’ that can remove lead or organic pollution from contaminated water.

Working with colleagues in Barcelona and Singapore, Samuel Sánchez’s group used graphene oxide to make their microscale motors, which are able to adsorb lead...

Im Focus: ORNL researchers discover new state of water molecule

Neutron scattering and computational modeling have revealed unique and unexpected behavior of water molecules under extreme confinement that is unmatched by any known gas, liquid or solid states.

In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory describe a new tunneling state of...

Im Focus: Bionic Lightweight Design researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute at Hannover Messe 2016

Honeycomb structures as the basic building block for industrial applications presented using holo pyramid

Researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) will introduce their latest developments in the field of bionic lightweight design at Hannover Messe from 25...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

The “AC21 International Forum 2016” is About to Begin

27.04.2016 | Event News

Soft switching combines efficiency and improved electro-magnetic compatibility

15.04.2016 | Event News

Grid-Supportive Buildings Give Boost to Renewable Energy Integration

12.04.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

New fabrication and thermo-optical tuning of whispering gallery microlasers

04.05.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Introducing the disposable laser

04.05.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

A new vortex identification method for 3-D complex flow

04.05.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>