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Customized mass products out of the digital printer

Partners of the Chemnitz University of Technology: New Lighthouse Project for digital production starts at both Chemnitz Fraunhofer institutes

The Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project 2016 “Go Beyond 4.0” under the leadership of the Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems ENAS links traditional production technologies with future technologies and digital production procedures. The acting Director of Fraunhofer ENAS and President of the Center for Microtechnologies (ZfM) of the Chemnitz University of Technology, Prof. Thomas Otto, leads the project. It is funded by the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft for three years with eight million euros.

Thanks to the longstanding and close cooperation between the Chemnitz Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology (IWU) and Fraunhofer ENAS with the Chemnitz University of Technology, the researchers were able to combine their experiences and receive funds for their future oriented project “Go Beyond 4.0”. In the framework of the Federal Cluster of Excellence “MERGE”, ENAS and IWU are research partners of the Chemnitz University of Technology and work closely with the Professorship of Digital Printing and Imaging Technology (Prof. Reinhard R. Baumann) and the Professorship of Adaptronics and Lightweight Design in Production (Prof. Welf-Guntram). MERGE is the only federal Cluster of Excellence in the field of lightweight construction research. In the course of the Cluster of Excellence several lightweight composites were produced, amongst others, for the automobile sector.

Re-thinking production: customized and resource-efficient

The opening event of the new Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project took place at the Smart System Campus, close to the university campus, on February 10, 2017. The President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Prof. Reimund Neugebauer and the acting Director of the Fraunhofer Institute ENAS, Prof. Thomas Otto welcomed the representatives of the Chemnitz University of Technology – Rector Prof. Gerd Strohmeier, Chancellor Dr. Eberhard Alles, and the Vice President for Research and Junior Researchers Prof. Jörn Ihlemann – as well as representatives of industry and researchers from six Fraunhofer institutes.

In the field of micro system technologies and microelectronics, the joint research and development activities of the Center for Microtechnologies (ZfM) and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology of the Chemnitz University of Technology are the scientific foundation of the project. By merging traditional production technologies with future technologies and digital production procedures under the leadership of Fraunhofer ENAS, solutions are developed: “In the project consortium we want to use digital print and laser processes that are currently rarely used in mass production in order to customize mass products”, project leader Prof. Thomas Otto emphasizes. One aim of the project is to build a demonstrator, for example a car door, which is mass produced but at the same time can be customized with various functionalities due to the new production procedure. In this combination, mass productions keep their level of resource and cost efficiency but are also enabled to manufacture unique products.

“In this Lighthouse Project we want to show that with the combination of the production procedures digital print and digital laser processing, small and mini scale mass production is possible, culminating in an efficient - and completely customized - large-scale production of batch size 1,” project coordinator Prof. Reinhard Baumann explains. The project is therefore aimed at the demands of the industry: “We strive for an expansion in the global markets shares with new, customized products that can be produced in Germany with an increased production efficiency”, Baumann stresses. (Authors: Andrea Messing-Wetzel/Matthias Fejes)


Re-thinking production: The new Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project “Go Beyond 4.0” ties in with the slogan. The project represents a further contribution of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft to the global success of the German producing industry. It is based on the profound experiences of the lead project “E³-Produktion” 2014.

Matthias Fejes

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