Fraunhofer and RWTH Aachen launch R&D Center for Turbomachinery Manufacturing

Press Release from Fraunhofer IPT and Fraunhofer ILT /

On October 28, 2015, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Production Technology IPT and Laser Technology ILT, and RWTH Aachen University’s Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) and Chair for Laser Technology (LLT) launched the International Center for Turbomachinery Manufacturing ICTM Aachen together with 19 renowned industrial partners. The center’s activities will focus on research related to the repair and manufacturing of turbomachinery.

“The ICTM was founded to speed up innovation,” explained Prof. Fritz Klocke, Director of Fraunhofer IPT and Head of RWTH Aachen’s Chair of Manufacturing Technology at the kick-off meeting. “To this end, it connects experts, joins forces, and provides excellent R&D.” The industrial partners in the new network include turbine manufacturers as well as corporations and medium-sized companies covering all areas of the value chain. And just as varied as the companies and sectors are the reasons they give for taking part: a well-known turbine manufacturer wants to introduce additive manufacturing methods with the help of the ICTM network; a machine tool manufacturer was attracted by the “unique form of cooperation;” a service provider in the aviation sector is looking for cooperation partners; and a family-owned company is interested in improving the surface quality of aerospace components made of titanium.

How well the network already works, despite the different motivations, was demonstrated on the kick-off day. The ICTM industry partners agreed on a ten-member steering committee with representatives from the industrial companies and research institutes, and selected seven collaborative research projects with a budget of around 400 000 euros: for example, the network plans to improve machining processes when using all-ceramic tools and also the final processing of additive manufacturing components.

Success story: from a Fraunhofer Innovation Cluster to an independent research center

The Aachen researchers founded the R&D center without any government funding. Accordingly, it is one of the few independent networks to have emerged from the very successful Fraunhofer Innovation Clusters. Within seven years, an innovative and inspiring network of research and industry grew up and turned into the International Center for Turbomachinery Manufacturing (ICTM). “Since 2008, when the Fraunhofer TurPro Innovation Cluster was launched, we’ve reached numerous milestones together with many industrial partners,” summarized Prof. Klocke. “We started out with the focus on aircraft turbines before opening it out to incorporate the manufacturing of turbines for the energy, oil/gas and automotive industries. Now our work in this area embraces the principal industrial sectors worldwide.”

Fraunhofer’s TurPro Innovation Cluster (11 partners, budget of 10 million euros) was followed in 2012 by the Adaptive Production for Resource Efficiency in Energy Generation and Mobility (AdaM) Innovation Cluster (21 partners, budget of 10 million euros). The same period saw the emergence of the ICTM conference, at which turbine manufacturing experts from around the world have been meeting to exchange information every two years since 2011. In 2014, experts from 23 partners also attended workshops and meetings as part of the Picture of the Future for Turbomachinery Manufacturing study.

ICTM Industry Partners

  • ABB Turbo Systems Ltd
  • Alicona Imaging GmbH
  • BCT Steuerungs- und DV-Systeme GmbH
  • DMG Mori Seiki GmbH
  • GF Machining Solutions Agie Charmilles SA
  • HAMUEL Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG
  • IHI Corporation
  • KUKA Industries Reis GmbH & Co. KG Maschinenfabrik
  • Lufthansa Technik AG
  • Makino Milling Machine Co. Ltd
  • MAN Diesel & Turbo SE
  • Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd
  • MBFZ toolcraft GmbH
  • MTU Aero Engines AG
  • Pietro Rosa TBM
  • Rolls-Royce Deutschland Ltd & Co KG
  • SLM Solutions GmbH
  • Walter AG

ICTM R&D Institutions

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT
  • Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL), RWTH Aachen
  • Chair for Laser Technology (LLT), RWTH Aachen