Fraunhofer IFAM researches digital surface and coating technology

With the newly opened !Center for Networked Surface and Coating Technology”, Fraunhofer IFAM combines its expertise in the fields of cleaning, pre-treatment, coating and quality assurance for the automated processing of small and large structures on more than 750 square meters of technical center space.

A picture shows the Laser paint stripping in combination with CO2 snow cleaning for selective decoating and cleaning of ablation products.
Laser paint stripping in combination with CO2 snow cleaning for selective decoating and cleaning of ablation products. Image source: Fraunhofer IFAM.

Virtual reality, augmented reality, Internet-of-Things – digital tools and methods that link virtual models with real components are the applications of the future in surface treatment and coating processes. Properly implemented, they offer enormous potential for product development, process efficiency and quality assurance. Current challenges are the storage and management of relevant data, a creation of reliable models and resilient simulations, correct data provision and continuous data flow along the entire process chain, an automated inclusion of relevant data to optimise process steps and the integration of interfaces for collaborative machine interactions.

Offering for industry and research partners

Industry representatives immediately recognise the benefits of digital tools and methods. However, integrating the technologies into their own treatment and coating processes is extremely complex. This is precisely where the new “Center for Networked Surface and Coating Technology” comes in. With this holistic, application-oriented and practical offering for industry and research partners, processes can be selected according to requirements and optimized for individual production conditions. In addition, commercial coating processes can be simulated and optimised.

Pretreatment with plasma technology and decoating with laser techniques are precision processes for preparing component surfaces for further processing, e.g. for bonding or coating. The slightest fluctuations in process parameters or starting substrates can have serious consequences, even leading to component failure. Surface pretreatment processes must therefore be extremely controlled. In order to counteract process fluctuations, Fraunhofer IFAM is researching into making these processes self-adjusting using optical and spectroscopic monitoring methods in combination with artificial intelligence, and thus making them safer.

For further information, please visit the Fraunhofer IFAM website.

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