Mechanical and Plant Engineering

Machine and plant engineering is one of the main target groups of the laser-based systems and process technologies developed at Fraunhofer ILT. New high-performance beam sources and optical systems as well as highly efficient laser-based manufacturing processes give mechanical engineering the leverage to create new process chain solutions and business areas, as well as help users to create new products and to lower production costs., Fraunhofer ILT has a deep understanding of these processes - particularly in the manufacturing sector – such as laser cutting, laser welding, structuring and drilling techniques, as well as additive manufacturing. This is based on many years of experience in the simulation and modeling of laser technology. The institute supports its cooperation partners in selecting application-specific beam sources, in optimizing process efficiency and product quality through adapted optics systems and in using high-power process monitoring systems. It also cooperates with its R&D partners in commercializing and licensing its developments.

The digitization of industrial production makes the integration of sensors and process monitoring systems more important. The model-based planning of process chains and sensor-integrated implementation, as envisioned in Industry 4.0 concepts, makes it possible to create digital shadows of process flows, products and plants. Digital Photonic Production is a focal point at Fraunhofer ILT and makes an effective contribution to Industry 4.0.

The Digital Photonic Production research campus is systematically driving forward the interplay between laser processes and the digitally networked world. Particularly in the field of 3D printing and ultra-precision machining, Fraunhofer ILT is developing new approaches in close cooperation between science and industry to develop innovative laser systems and production processes. With the possibilities of artificial intelligence and Industry 4.0, process control will achieve a new quality in the future.

Additive manufacturing and Industry 4.0

Several lasers at Fraunhofer ILT in Aachen use 3D printing to transform metal powder into a demonstrator component for the future generation of Rolls-Royce engines.
© Fraunhofer, Germany.
Several lasers at Fraunhofer ILT in Aachen use 3D printing to transform metal powder into a demonstrator component for the future generation of Rolls-Royce engines.

Component and process development, system integration, design of material properties or individual consultation: Fraunhofer ILT offers extensive expertise in the field of additive manufacturing (AM), whereby the robust AM processes stand in the foreground. In addition, the importance of digitizing process chains is growing – which is a key component of Industry 4.0. The institute works on ensuring the consistency of the data, from the CAD design through simulations and manufacturing processes to the quality assurance of produced components. Data are recorded in real time, then evaluated and fed into appropriate control loops.

In particular, additive manufacturing can be used in sectors that place the highest demands on design and material properties with regard to individualized or complex components. In this regard, Fraunhofer ILT focuses on both laser material deposition (LMD) and Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF).

In the Fraunhofer lighthouse project "futureAM - Next Generation Additive Manufacturing" Fraunhofer ILT and five other Fraunhofer Institutes bundled their expertise in order to push Additive Manufacturing to a new level. The partners paved the way for the development of a tool to document and track the progress of AM projects with a distributed process chain. Thanks to the “Virtual Lab”, a comprehensive platform for the highly integrated cooperation, real systems can be optimized by means of modeling and simulation on the basis of digital twins. This will enhance error diagnosis, predictive analysis, product and process optimization or long-term quality assurance.

Real-time process monitoring for laser welding and cladding

Alignment of powder focus, position of the processing laser radiation (green) and measuring radiation of the "bd-1" (red).
© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.
Alignment of powder focus, position of the processing laser radiation (green) and measuring radiation of the "bd-1" (red).

Fraunhofer ILT is developing various systems for real-time process monitoring, which offer more economical production and improved quality assurance. The result of the EU research project “MAShES ” (Multimodal Spectral Control of Laser Processing) is, for example, a multispectral, imaging sensor system for process monitoring. This can be integrated into laser processing optics and used in welding and cladding. In real-time, different sensor data streams are analyzed simultaneously during the process, creating a clear fingerprint of the process. This fingerprint consists of several features, such as the cooling rate of the component surface or the melt pool’s surface geometry, which are determined using »machine-learning« concepts from multispectral process image data. The algorithms employed can be used, for example, to classify welds and make corresponding manufacturing processes more cost-effective through real-time control.

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

Prof. Arnold Gillner

Head of department “Business Development Research Markets”


Telefone +49 241 8906-148
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Prof. Carlo Holly

Head of department “Data Science and Measurement Technology”


Telefone +49 241 8906-142
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Dr.-Ing. Christian Vedder

Head of department “Surface Technology and Ablation” 


Telefone +49 241 8906-378
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Dr. rer. nat. Achim Lenenbach

Head of department “Laser Medical Technology and Biophotonics”


Telefone +49 241 8906-124
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Dr.-Ing. Alexander Olowinsky

Head of department “Joining and Cutting” 


Telefone +49 241 8906-491
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Dr.-Ing. Thomas Schopphoven

Head of department “Laser Material Deposition”


Telefone +49 241 8906-8107
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Tim Lantzsch M. Sc.

Head of department “Laser Powder Bed Fusion” 


Telefone +49 241 8906-193
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Dipl.-Ing. Hans-Dieter Hoffmann

Head of department “Laser and Optical Systems”


Telefone +49 241 8906-206
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