Aerospace

For the aerospace industry, reducing weight and energy consumption is a core issue. To optimize turbine engineering and save costs, the industry is looking at various approaches to turbine construction. Novel turbine design, lighter turbine blades, optimized cooling and low cost repair techniques are just a few examples.

In this environment, additive manufacturing is proving to be a promising technology. Leading turbine manufacturers have formed R&D partnerships with Fraunhofer ILT – in some cases through branches at the Digital Photonic Production research campus in Aachen, located in the immediate vicinity of the institute. At the International Center for Turbomachinery Manufacturing ICTM, turbine manufacturers from the aerospace and energy sectors cooperate with Fraunhofer Institutes ILT and IPT, both of which are based in Aachen.

In addition to production issues, additive manufacturing processes also play a key role in maintenance, repair and overhaul. The cooperation partners not only drive forward the R&D activities, but actively take care of the technological prerequisites to certify new procedures.

In the field of satellite-based measuring systems for environmental analysis, increasingly powerful, narrow-band laser systems are needed with which concentrations of gas constituents of the atmosphere can be detected with high accuracy. Fraunhofer ILT has developed its own technology platform for satellite-based laser systems. It is cooperating with partners such as the German Aerospace Center DLR, the Airbus Group, the TESAT Spacecom or the European Space Agency ESA.

Laser Material Deposition for lightweight construction

With the "Laser-based Manufacturing" technology platform, experts from Fraunhofer ILT offer SMEs central access to numerous European specialist colleagues with years of experience. In the picture: Laser Material Deposition (LMD).
© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Aachen / Volker Lannert.
With the "Laser-based Manufacturing" technology platform, experts from Fraunhofer ILT offer SMEs central access to numerous European specialist colleagues with years of experience. In the picture: Laser Material Deposition (LMD).

Additive manufacturing (AM) is considered a key technology for the production of lightweight components and structures. Among AM processes, Laser Material Deposition (LMD) stands out as it can be used to manufacture a wide variety of free-form surfaces. For this reason, LMD can be flexibly applied to repair and coat as well as to selectively individualize and functionalize prefabricated basic components (hybrid additive manufacturing).

However, the processing of aluminum alloys with laser-based methods is challenging, especially because these alloys have a low degree of absorption and high thermal conductivity. This means that adapting the LMD process control to the specific material plays a decisive role in opening up lightweight construction applications with aluminum materials.

Powder-based LMD was used to process aluminum alloys with silicon, magnesium and zinc – as the main alloying elements – in order to produce structural elements such as tracks, layers and solid bodies. Scientists of Fraunhofer ILT are investigating process regimes that span orders of magnitude in terms of key process parameters, such as feed rate and deposition rate. Since the process control has been fundamentally advanced, new types of lightweight construction applications with aluminum can be put into practice, e.g. in the aerospace, automotive and mechanical engineering sectors.

Robust laser technology for environmental satellites

The LIDAR system for the MERLIN mission incorporates all components from the pump laser to the frequency conversion in a particularly compact design suitable for space operation.
© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.
The LIDAR system for the MERLIN mission incorporates all components from the pump laser to the frequency conversion in a particularly compact design suitable for space operation.

Fraunhofer ILT is developing and building the Laser Optical Bench as the core element of a laser beam source for the German-French climate mission MERLIN (Methane Remote Sensing LIDAR Mission). This bench constitutes the laser transmitter along with the pressure housing developed by Airbus and the cooling, supply and control units. The aim of the mission is to measure the greenhouse gas methane in the Earth's atmosphere from a satellite. The laser pulses backscattered from the Earth's surface will provide information about the methane concentration of the overlying atmospheric column.

The complex and compact laser system must be insensitive to strong vibration and temperature fluctuations. Since the enclosed system must have a service life of more than three years, it is necessary to do without outgassing materials to avoid contamination.

In addition to the optical elements, the design includes a passive cooling structure and an electrical harness for signal, high-current and high-voltage transmission for laser operation. Soldering techniques are used to contact electrical components and to mount the optics, ensuring robust, ultra-precise and contamination-free connections for a long service life. The institute has demonstrated that the system is able to resist environmental loads and that it performs as required. After the successful completion of the Critical Design Review, the client Airbus Defence and Space GmbH and DLR Space Management confirmed and approved the design.

The work is being funded by the BMWi (German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy) under the reference number 50EP1601 and is being carried out on behalf of DLR Space Management by Airbus Defence and Space GmbH as a subcontractor.

A Selection of Project Results 2020

Projects with participation of the Fraunhofer ILT

Strategic Fraunhofer Projects

A selection of strategic projects involving the Fraunhofer ILT can be found on our cluster website.

Current Collaborative Projects

Here you will find a selection of current collaborative projects in which Fraunhofer ILT is involved.

Completed Collaborative Projects

Here you will find a selection of completed collaborative projects in which Fraunhofer ILT is involved.

Annual Report

In our current annual report you will find a selection of further project results.

Contact Research & Development

Dr. Achim Lenenbach (acting)

“Measurement Technology
and EUV Sources”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-124
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Dipl.-Ing. Hans-Dieter Hoffmann

“Lasers and Laser Optics”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-206
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Prof. Arnold Gillner

“Ablation and Joining”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-148
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Jasmin Saewe M.Sc.

“Laser Powder Bed Fusion”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-135
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Dr. Thomas Schopphoven

“Laser Material Deposition”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-8107
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Dr. Jochen Stollenwerk (acting)

“Functional Layers and Surfaces”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-398
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