Digital economy: Simulation solutions in surface technology

Data acquisition and data analytics are the foundation of the digitalization of production lines.
© Fraunhofer IST
Data acquisition and data analytics are the foundation of the digitalization of production lines.

Industry 4.0 in surface technology and digitalization of production lines

The continuously increasing demands on coating products with respect to efficiency, reproducibility and sustainability call for systematic acquisition of product and process data. Digital Twins make use of these data in order to identify the origins for process drifts or defects and to reveal complex interdependencies between different process steps and can thus aid in process optimization in surface technology. While in thin film technology, digital twins exist for selected sub-processes, a digitalization of complete process lines is nowadays still a big challenge.

Contribution of Fraunhofer IST for digitalization in thin film technology

Fraunhofer IST offers simulation codes in the field of thin film technology in combination with long-term experience from real coating processes and film analytics. Thus, all prerequisites to create experimentally validated simulation solutions are available in place. Based on these tools we offer simulation case studies for process optimization or knowledge transfer by software licensing and hands-on training workshops. Furthermore, we offer to support the digitalization of production lines via sensor data acquisition, conception and implementation of databases. Additionally, we offer support in the field of high performance computing hardware and cloud computing.

Holistic digital process chain – from material to high-tech product

At the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST, we keep an eye on the entire product life cycle and develop sustainable products and associated production systems. Digitization, networking and automation are the keys to a holistic design of process chains and their embedding in production systems. Central to our work is a profound understanding of the relationships between the process parameters, the resulting structure of thin films and surfaces, and the final properties of the product. Inline and laboratory analytics create the foundation for this and provide important data for simulation-based approaches, e.g. for a simulation of layer growth or new data-driven approaches based on machine learning.

We offer solutions for your applications


In focus

Digitalization in surface technology

Digitalization and data driven product and process optimization at Fraunhofer IST

At Fraunhofer IST numerous plants for coating and surface treatment are acquiring real time process data and store them in centralized databases. This also includes metadata. Based on this, various concepts for process data visualization and their model- or data driven evaluation are developed and implemented. This activity is an important building block in our strategy towards a systematic digitalization of all processes and process chains. Data driven models enable product and process optimization by various AI or model based approaches. Examples are deep learning based on neural networks, grey-box models or simplified physical models which are real-time capable. We would be glad to support you in your infrastructure implementation towards digitalization via data acquisition and development of tailored product and process models.


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Our main focuses and expertise



Sensor technology



Simulation & Digital Services