Flexible production for smart surfaces

View on the machine hall of the Fraunhofer IST.
© Fraunhofer IST,
View on the machine hall of the Fraunhofer IST.

Linking expert knowledge for an overall system suitable for industrial use

Customers increasingly expect products to be tailored precisely to their individual needs. For production, this means a greater diversity of variants with smaller batch sizes through to fully individualized products. This increasing complexity in relation to the products, in conjunction with fluctuating qualities of the raw and auxiliary materials or semi-finished products, places greater demands on the flexibility of production systems.


»With the establishment of a flexible production system, we are working to enable the economical manufacturing of complex layer systems in high quality, including unit-quantity variants.«

At Fraunhofer IST, we are building a modular production system with the aim of producing different layer systems with a high number of variants. One area of application is the production of thin-film sensors developed at the institute. The objective is to make surface technology accessible for a multitude of applications in different sectors by shortening run-in times and reducing costs. Beyond the necessary adaptation of the core processes, we also consider support processes and transfer them into an overall system that can be automated. In doing so we answer, amongst others, questions concerning planning and control, logistics and ergonomics, and develop cross-technological solutions for multifunctional components. 


Selected reference project

With the project "SE.MA.KI" – Self-learning control of a cross-technology matrix production by simulation-based AI – Fraunhofer develops a solid basis for companies to realize a flexible and adaptive production system to increase resilience – matrix production. Through the production system, not only large but also small batch sizes up to ”quantity 1” and individually personalized products can be produced quickly and cost-effectively. The new approach addresses the issues of unit number fluctuations, increasing product variant diversity and constantly changing challenges such as supply chain disruptions or shifts in technological trends. The design of the production system has a decisive influence on the company's ability to successfully hold its own in its competitive environment in the future.


Reference project

Overall concept of a production system for coating technology


Blog post

Flexible production systems for smart surfaces

From research

Possible approaches to the work at the Fraunhofer IST in the field of flexible production systems can be found in the interior, for example, in the area of smart surfaces, in the condition monitoring of occupants and the autonomous vehicle, or in manufacturing technology by means of tool-integrated sensors for intelligent process control. The goal is to develop economical, resilient, reproducible processes with short cycle times for this purpose. The scientific objective is to enable manufacturing cells for flexibly chained production, AI-based planning and control of production systems for resource-efficient and resilient production, and process parameter-structure-property relationships of thin-film systems.


From research

Smart, modular and sustainable interior for the transportation of the future


From research

Sustainable material and surface systems for future vehicle concepts


Press release

Flexible and individual: Fraunhofer team develops groundbreaking vehicle concept

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