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Turbine manufacturing research centre launched

A research centre for the repair and manufacture of turbines has been launched in Aachen, Germany.

The International Center for Turbomachinery Manufacturing (ICTM) is a collaboration between 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). Nineteen industrial partners are also involved in the centre.

‘The ICTM was founded to speed up innovation,’ commented Professor 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.

The ICTM industry partners agreed on a 10-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. For example, the network plans to improve machining processes when using all-ceramic tools and also the final processing of additive manufacturing components.

The Aachen researchers founded the research centre without any government funding. It is one of the few independent networks to have emerged from the successful Fraunhofer Innovation Clusters.

‘Since 2008, when the Fraunhofer TurPro Innovation Cluster was launched, we’ve reached numerous milestones together with many industrial partners,’ said Klocke. ‘We started out with the focus on aircraft turbines before opening it out to incorporate the manufacturing of turbines for the energy, oil and 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) 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). 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.

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