High-performance cutting is one of the most important technologies for manufacturing high-tech components in industries such as aero engine manufacturing, the semiconductor industry as well as medical engineering. Although modern machining processes are highly efficient, product costs often range from several thousand to hundreds of thousands of Euros, depending on the component. A significant proportion of these costs is incurred during time-consuming and cost-intensive production startups, due to quality defects in the component that require costly reworking, and due to scrap production.
Digital twins are virtual, data-based representations of the components and the manufacturing environment. Since digital twins accurately represent the manufacturing process and its effects on the workpiece, process design, process optimization and process monitoring based on a digital twin is a promising way to make the milling process even more efficient and minimize scrap. Creating a complete digital twin requires the use of sophisticated numerical simulation models and machine learning algorithms. Creating the models is such a computationally intensive task that its use is not yet a common standard in the industry today. Since many companies lack the necessary powerful digital infrastructure, many relevant physical quantities are either neglected or only included in the form of rough estimates - if digital twins are created at all. As a result, the quality of the digital twin and the insights and decisions derived from it suffer.
The aim of the research project "QUASIM – QC-Enhanced Service Ecosystem for Simulation in Manufacturing" is to develop and test quantum computing (QC) solutions in manufacturing using cutting processes as an example. The project partners intend to find out to what extent QC can accelerate the creation of a digital twin in machining and thus improve the quality of results.
The Fraunhofer IPT has developed extensive expertise on the topic of digital twins, which is, for example, represented in dPart®, an Industry 4.0 framework developed at the Fraunhofer IPT for digital twins in machining. To create the digital twins, the dPart framework uses complex models and algorithms from numerics and machine learning, which can be used, for example, to dynamically simulate and visualize forces and process vibrations.
In order to accelerate the complex calculations, the dPart® framework in the QUASIM project will be extended by a so-called "Quantum-as-a-Service" (QaaS) component. "Quantum as a Service" is a cloud service that provides access to quantum computing platforms via the Internet. The researchers are testing, or rather developing, QC algorithms for various critical, computationally demanding simulation situations. If a critical simulation situation occurs, the framework will automatically access the QaaS back-end to increase computational efficiency.
The project partners can use real QC hardware for their research work: both the QC infrastructure at Forschungszentrum Jülich, which has just gone into operation, and the "IBM Q System One" at the "Competence Center Quantum Computing Baden-Württemberg". The QaaS-supported software for creating the digital twin will be transferred to industrial practice and tested there. After the practical demonstrations, a transfer of the results in the form of know-how licensing is planned. The results and possible applications of QC will also be communicated to manufacturing companies via the excellent industry networks of the project partners in workshops and symposia. Research results pave the way for the implementation of QC applications in the industrial environment
QUASIM is researching and demonstrating how quantum computing can be used practically to make machining production even more efficient. With the quantum computing algorithms and technologies developed within the project, the project partners are opening the door for industrial end users to deploy QC applications in existing digital infrastructures and drive the use of QC in the industrial environment. QUASIM thus sets a milestone in innovation for the future success of German mechanical engineering.
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
The research project "QUASIM" is funded within the framework of the funding program "Quantum Computing - Applications for Industry", a program of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK).
Funding code: 01MQ22001A