Environmentally friendly production
Recycling of materials in production
The costs of raw materials and energy are skyrocketing. In many industries they have long since been the determining factor in the price of the end product. A paradigm shift is needed if German companies are to continue to thrive in the global market. Instead of maximum profit from minimum capital, maximum added value must be generated from minimal resources. "One of the key tasks for the future is to increase efficiency in production," stresses Professor Fritz Klocke, chairman of the Fraunhofer Group for Production. Consequently, the Group has also been focusing its research on resource-friendly manufacturing over the past few years.
Car body production as an example of increasing efficiency
The researchers have demonstrated that a great deal of potential is inherent in even small process steps, for instance the adjustment process during body production. To hold body panels in place during the joining process, they are positioned by hand and fixed using clamping devices – a time-consuming task. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU are working jointly with Volkswagen, Ortlinghaus and Sibea on a strategy: "Adjustment at the push of a button". An electrohydraulic drive system enables the clamping points to be controlled and precisely adjusted. The result is increased process reliability and product quality. At the same time less rework is required, enabling resources and energy to be utilized more efficiently.
Utilizing materials economically
Researchers are active across a wide range of disciplines. Resources can be saved while processing metals by replacing machining manufacturing processes with forming processes. The experts aim to improve resource utilization in component manufacture by means of innovations in tool construction; they also aim to reduce emissions and manufacturing costs. Resources can be conserved very effectively through the economical use of materials, so it is important to increase process stability and produce as few rejects as possible. This is where zero-defect production comes into its own, which the researchers have implemented in areas such as the foundry. New materials and surface structures also offer a great deal of potential: The development of micro- and nanostructures not only feeds through into shorter process chains but also facilitates more energy-efficient production of engines and other powertrain components.