Fraunhofer IFAM | Stade

Automation and Production Technology

Automation and production technology

for an adaptable aircraft production

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Stade is presenting at ILA Goes Digital 2020 its current R&D portfolio “Automation and Production Technology”.

Live event on July 1, 2020 | 11:00 - 11:45 am

• Automated cabin & cargo lining and hatrack installation method

• Mobile machining of large CFRP structures

• Automated adhesive layup and stringer integration

It is possible to compensate for the cost pressure as well as the shortage of the skilled workers in aircraft production
through automation by making the processes more economical and efficient. To serve this purpose, conventional
industrial robots with comparatively low investment costs and space requirements are used in combination with sensor
technology and artificial intelligence to pave the way further for new applications.

Automation offers flexibility

The focus lies on versatile production for the adaptive assembly and machining of large lightweight structures in the field
of civil aircraft production. The constantly growing fields of the activities range from mobile robotics to human-robot
collaboration to logistics in production.

Multiple technology platforms for machining and assembly of large structures readily exist at the research center in Stade
with an approximate hall area of about 4000 m² for development of Industry 4.0 technologies and automated processes
on a 1:1 scale as per individual customer requirements.

The spectrum of work of Fraunhofer IFAM in Stade comprises of technological modules, which can be combined with one
another, just like building blocks, in order to ensure, for example, high precision, maximum flexibility, comprehensive data
management or optimal use of resources depending on the requirements.

In addition, new possibilities for process design are being promoted through forward-looking approaches in digitalization
and offline programming.

Further information.



Live event highlights

Wednesday, July 1, 2020 | 11:00 - 11:45 am

Automated cabin & cargo lining and hatrack installation method

The Clean Sky 2 ACCLAIM project aims to automate cabin and cargo assembly processes for new lining and hatrack parts led by Fraunhofer. The project work also includes virtual reality (VR) based assembly planning and an augmented reality (AR) process environment for the installation and quality assurance. A fuselage section made for automation is used as mock-up for validation.

Further information.

Mobile robotic systems for flexible solutions of production applications

In recent projects like MBFast18 several different mobile and highly precise robotic systems for machining applications have been developed. With interchangeable manipulators multifunctional use and individual adaptions can be maintained. Further R&D-aspects include the development and examination of mobile holding fixtures, measurement systems and end effectors on AGVs.

Automated adhesive layup and stringer integration

The AutoGlare project aimed to a fully automated assembly of a fuselage shell consist of a Glare composite. The Fraunhofer IFAM research focus within this project was the development of an industrial robot tool for an automatic layup of a doublesided adhesive film, as well as the integration of stiffening elements using cooperating robotics. Supported by a virtual commissioning, an offline path planning was created, which allows a precise placement of the adhesive film and the integration of the stringers in a double-curved geometry.

Live Event

Recorded Live Event | July 1, 2020 | 11:00 - 11:45 am
"Automation in Aerospace Industry @ Fraunhofer IFAM"


Integrated production systems

Integrated production systems represent flexible, process-safe and holistic production for machining of large structures made up of fiber-reinforced composites (FRC). Especially when machining components at a high value-added stage, zero-defect production is required, which can only be achieved by reliable process control and comprehensive process monitoring.

A further focus is the realization of product- and application-flexible plant layouts based on high-precision machining modules that can also be used simultaneously. A connection between component, machine, measuring technology and process is established under the aspect of current and most modern digitalization systems, which are not only used but also actively developed further. A combination of industrial and lightweight robotics is just as much a focus as the use of high-precision actuation systems and measuring systems.

As part of the ILA Goes Digital 2020 we are also represented within the project SmartADU2020.

Further information.


Mobile CNC robot for machining of large structures

In the research project ProsihP II, Fraunhofer IFAM, in cooperation with an interdisciplinary project consortium from industry and research, developed a mobile CNC Robot which fulfills the high accuracy requirements in terms of machining in aerospace industry.

Christian Böhlmann, M.Eng.

Deputy Head of Department
Group Manager Integrated Production Systems
Automation and Production Technology

Ottenbecker Damm 12
21684 Stade, Germany

Phone +49 4141 78707-262

Assembly technologies

At the Fraunhofer IFAM, the complex, individual needs of an assembly process chain are taken up and transferred into a
prototypical, application-oriented automation solution. For this purpose, industrial and lightweight construction robotics,
modern measurement technology, high-precision flexible component fixtures and technology modules of digitization are
integrated and combined. This enables the demonstration of automated assembly processes on a 1:1 scale of both large
structural components with low inherent rigidity and light, sensitive components in narrow, floor load-sensitive spaces
such as the aircraft cabin, where components made of carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) are increasingly being used
to reduce weight.

The digital technologies further developed at the Fraunhofer IFAM offer considerable potential for increasing efficiency, in
particular through the modularization and interconnection of systems, the option of virtual commissioning and a digital
twin for system monitoring as well as novel interaction possibilities using augmented and virtual reality.

Further information


Automated assembly of the carbon fiber reinforced plastic box of a vertical tail plane

In the FLEXMONT research project, the Fraunhofer IFAM, together with mainly local project partners, automated the assembly of the box of a vertical tail plane unit with the aim of achieving a significant reduction in assembly times and costs.

Dipl.-Ing. Björn Reichel

Group Manager Assembly Technologies
Automation and Production Technology

Ottenbecker Damm 12
21684 Stade, Germany

Phone +49 4141 78707-207

Adaptive application systems

Automated bonding, surface pre-treatment, and release layers – application technologies for lightweight construction on a 1:1 scale

As part of the large component assembly process, Fraunhofer IFAM in Stade is developing tailor-made automated
application processes for sealants, gap fillers for adjustment (shim) and application of adhesive films together with the
associated application unit, usually in the form of a robotic end effector.

Another focus of the research and development activities includes, as preparation for subsequent adhesive bonding, the

  • surface cleaning with mobile, highly precisely controlled end effectors for wet cleaning using an endless cleaning belt
  • even on difficult-to-access component seams
  • surface activation using an atmospheric pressure plasma nozzle and
  • surface roughening by vacuum suction jets.

In addition, R&D work is focusing on the production of large components made of carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) for lightweight construction without the use of release agents. Here, vacuum-deep-drawable polymer release films (PeelPLAS®) are used. The current tests on a new type of low-pressure plasma coating, carried out in cooperation with Fraunhofer IFAM in Bremen, serve to coat the films in economical plasma processes with release layers of varying degrees of residual adhesion in order to be able to remove them more easily from the component. Furthermore, the insertion of the films into the components is to be automated in the future.

Further information

Dipl.-Ing. Urs Roemer

Group Manager Adaptive Application Systems
Automation and Production Technology

Ottenbecker Damm 12
21684 Stade, Germany

Phone +49 4141 78707-226