In 2015, the ACAM Aachen Center for Additive Manufacturing was founded as a Center in the Photonics Cluster at the RWTH Aachen Campus. This network bundles the competences around Additive Manufacturing (AM) of the leading scientific and research institutions at the RWTH Aachen Campus and facilitates the access to this technology for the industry. The ACAM community today counts 31 companies in Germany, Austria, France, Japan and the USA among its members. The new industrial partners are tackling the topic of Additive Manufacturing (AM) together with the Aachen research network. They will facilitate the creation of holistic solutions covering everything from project design, training, feasibility studies and consulting services to the generation of knowledge.
Improved machine tools thanks to Additive Manufacturing
Until now the managing director of ACAM, Dr. Kristian Arntz from the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT, can count on the support of his new co-director, Prof. Johannes Henrich Schleifenbaum. The two scientists approach their work from different but complementary angles, as do the Fraunhofer Institutes to which they belong. Kristian Arntz’s interest in Additive Manufacturing dates back to his student years. When he joined Fraunhofer IPT, he researched applications in tool and die making – based on techniques such as laser material deposition and laser powder bed fusion. In this context, he regards AM as a complement to existing techniques because it is an ideal means of functionalizing surfaces. Arntz: “What excites me most about ACAM is finding ways of integrating AM into existing process chains.”
His counterpart from Fraunhofer ILT, Johannes Henrich Schleifenbaum, is a nuts-and-bolts producer, who started out as an apprentice mechanical fitter at Waldrich Siegen, specialist in heavy-duty machine tools, before embarking on engineering studies in Aachen. It was in 2005, while writing his thesis at Fraunhofer ILT, that he discovered the magic combination of machine tools, lasers and powdered metal. “I immediately felt an affinity with AM which has stayed with me ever since,” says Schleifenbaum. He therefore didn’t hesitate when recently offered the opportunity to widen the scope of AM applications by accepting the post of expert group manager for “Additive Manufacturing and Functional Layers” at Fraunhofer ILT and the appointment as Chair of “Digital Additive Production DAP” at RWTH Aachen University. In addition to these responsibilities, Schleifenbaum also agreed to coordinate Fraunhofer’s “Next Generation Additive Manufacturing – futureAM” lighthouse project, in which the six Fraunhofer Institutes ILT, IAPT, IFAM, IGD, IWS and IWU will be collaborating.
Lower costs, automated processes
How will ACAM benefit from his involvement in this project? Schleifenbaum: “Key issues for me are end-to-end process digitalization, from the design stage to quality control, process chain automation, the development of customized materials, increasing productivity and reducing turnaround times – while maintaining costs at the same level or even reducing them.” In other words: the project applies a holistic approach encompassing all areas of interest to members of the ACAM community.
Biography: Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dipl.-Wirt.-Ing. Johannes Henrich Schleifenbaum
A native of Siegen in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, Schleifenbaum studied mechanical and industrial engineering at RWTH Aachen University and at the Ecole Centrale de Marseille before joining the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT as a project manager in 2007. After obtaining his doctorate in 2011, Schleifenbaum joined the Phoenix Contact Group in Blomberg, Germany, where he most recently headed toolmaking, project management and sales. In 2016, he returned to RWTH Aachen University, this time as a professor and Chair of “Digital Additive Production DAP”. He additionally took on the post of expert group manager for “Additive Manufacturing and Functional Layers” at Fraunhofer ILT.