Before series production starts, many practical questions have to be clarified: Many of them deal with the product design, which must not only find acceptance among users and be technically functional, but also be produced at an economically and ecologically justifiable cost. To this end, prototypes can be used to prove that all requirements have been met. Likewise, manufacturing plants can be prototyped and interconnected to form process chains in order to verify whether they are capable of producing the desired product in the required quality and in an economically efficient manner.
Simulations and other digital technologies, as well as high-precision measurement processes, help to ensure that the product idea can first be turned into a functional prototype and later into a reproducible, high-quality end product. The trend is increasingly moving away from the iterative production of countless prototypes and toward digital decision-making aids that are so precisely oriented to the later physical product that – in the spirit of more sustainable manufacturing – only a few trials are required to achieve the perfect component, the ideal system or the fully functional component.
At Fraunhofer IPT, we use digital methods to optimize manufacturing processes and process chains as much as possible: our goal, especially for particularly costly components and processes, is to ensure that the first part comes out of the machine ready for use – in line with the "first-part-right" principle.