Digital Reconfig­urable Manufacturing

...of fiber composite components in a resilient manufacturing environment.


Michael Liebl

Institute of Aircraft Design / University of Stuttgart


A New Production Environment

DIREKT aims at developing a quickly reconfigurable, self-monitoring and sensor-supported production environment for components made of high-performance fiber composites.

Proactive production

Among other things, new, low-waste (target: max. 5% waste) lay-up methods for carbon fiber-based semi-finished products are used, as well as shape-adaptive tools whose geometry is automatically adapted to a digital model. This allows the cost-intensive lightweight material CFRP to be used in a resource-saving manner and new components to be produced directly from the digital workspace without the need to manufacture component-specific molding tools.

The concrete goal here is the possibility to realize a new component geometry within one day. The integration of various sensors into the production environment allows the status of the system to be continuously monitored, thus providing early intervention possibilities. Whether errors have occurred in the production process and can be corrected directly, if necessary, is to be determined by direct data analysis near the data source (edge/fog computing), without time-consuming data transfers to the cloud. The characteristics of a complex production environment, to react robustly to disturbances and thus always work in an optimal range, is also called resilience.

In the long term, a combination of digital production technology and shape-adaptive, automated manufacturing processes can be expected to significantly reduce product costs by at least 50% for small to medium quantities. This enables the production of customized components, short-term adjustments of the component geometry and the use of the lightweight material CFRP in a wide range of applications.

Leverage through links with joint projects at ARENA2036

In terms of content, the project is closely linked to the joint projects of ARENA2036 in order to create a leverage effect:

The Digital Fingerprint project aims to establish an open data architecture of components along their entire life cycle. DIREKT is linked to the project via the use of data semantics for processing process- and product-specific component data.

The goal of the FlexCAR project is to build an open vehicle platform. DIREKT wants to implement demonstrator components and thus forms the link to FlexCAR.

Fluid Production wants to build a anthropocentric, cyperphysical production concept. DIREKT will be linked to FluPro via intelligent and fluid resource modules.

International Cooperation

Another focus of the InterSpiN funding initiative is the scientific exchange with the Australian Global Innovation Linkage at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. This project deals with the topic of automated Industry 4.0 manufacturing of fiber composite components for large volumes. As part of the project, the new I4.0 Testlab - a facility for innovative research in the field of composite manufacturing - has been set up in collaboration with CSIRO (Australia's National Science Agency, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) until mid-2021. In addition to the mutual exchange of information and project results, the existing international cooperation will be further intensified by the joint supervision of five PhD students within the GIL project by Professor Fox (Swinburne University of Technology) and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Middendorf (IFB, University of Stuttgart).

Expected results from DIREKT

Five precisely expected results were defined for the focus project:

  1. A virtual engineering environment for the flexible production system
  2. A system-enabled learning production system for the resilient production of high-performance fibre composites
  3. Three validated demonstrators
  4. Profitability, production concepts, strategies & scenarios of the future
  5. Implementation strategies and application scenarios of flexible production systems

Key Technologies


In manufacturing technology, the forming of, for example, carbon-based, textile semi-finished products represents one of the most fundamental processes. In the classic manual laminate, textiles such as woven fabrics or NCFs are manually laminated into the mold and adapted to the geometry. For increased productivity of the forming process, there are increasingly automatic diaphragm or stamping processes to obtain the desired three-dimensional shape of the component.

Adaptive tooling

Molding tools for the production of fiber composite components can be associated with high costs. Changes in the geometry of the mold, for example, are usually associated with a new design and acquisition. By using a shape-adaptive tool based on the DYNAPIXEL technology, a quick adaptation of the mold geometry is possible.

Screen printing technology

Screen printing represents a proven process in the field of printing technology. Based on the starting material of a conductive silver printing paste, the cost-effective and reproducible production of sensor technology is evaluated. The main focus is on integrating the sensor technology into the forming process for continuous data recording.

Edge Analytics

The production-related data analysis in the immediate environment of the production site provides an early intervention option in the manufacturing process of a component. Data transmission from the front-end electronics to the evaluation of the process-related sensors is realized via the industrial communication standard IO-Link.

„The interdisciplinary work and the possibility to get new inspirations at any time are part of the core competence of ARENA2036."

M.Sc. Michael Liebl

Research Assistant

Institute of Aircraft Design, University of Stuttgart