Go Beyond 4.0 – Digital Manufacturing Revolutionizes Mass Production

The current globally implemented production concept is all about the mass production of identical products to maximize production efficiency. On the other hand the future of automotive, aerospace and lighting markets is designated by the demand of manufacturing customized products. The obvious challenge of this demand is to maintain the economic advantages of mass production. Exactly this challenge meets the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft with its strategic lighthouse project “Go Beyond 4.0” and intents to bolster German industry and its leading position in global economic competition.

Six Fraunhofer Institutes (ENAS, IFAM, ILT, IOF, ISC and IWU) have succeeded to manufacture electrical conductor patterns, sensors, and high-tech lighting modules, individually integrated into components by using digital printing and laser technologies. The result: individualization of components in mass production environments with new opportunities for design, material savings and weight reduction.

The demand for customized components with sophisticated electrical or optical functionalities in industrial production has been growing for years. By integrating digital printing and laser technologies into existing mass production environments, the challenges of individualization can be faced successfully. Thus, the development of entirely new products becomes feasible.

“At first, it sounds paradoxical to produce unique products in mass production lines. However, if the digital manufacturing technologies of inkjet printing and laser processing are clever integrated into mass production environments, the respective products can be individualized in-line”, explains Prof. Reinhard Baumann of Fraunhofer ENAS, project coordinator of the Fraunhofer lighthouse project »Go Beyond 4.0«.

As a result of the Fraunhofer lighthouse project, the design of automotive body components, such as  car doors, can be revolutionized. The video below shows how conductive tracks can now be directly applied to automotive body parts employing digital printing and laser processes. This makes a complex body part lighter and subsequently the manual installation of a wire harness redundant

Lightweight constructions in aviation, such as wings, are due to their fiber-reinforced composite materials (CFRP and GFRP) suitable for the integration of printable components as temperature sensors or signal lines. Printed heating structures including sensors will enable chemical-free defrosting of wings and the collection of data for the on-board management.

For more information: www.iof.fraunhofer.de