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The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft currently consists of more than 80 research institutes with over 29,000 employees. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen alone has around 570 employees, making it one of the world's most important contract research and development institutes in the field of laser development and laser applications. The core competencies of the Fraunhofer ILT include the development of new laser beam sources and components, laser measurement and testing technology, and laser manufacturing technology. These include, for example, cutting, ablation, drilling, welding and soldering as well as surface finishing, micro manufacturing and additive manufacturing. The Aachen-based company will also be focusing on the latter at HANNOVER MESSE 2022.

In the "sentient component" presented in Hannover, Fraunhofer ILT combines the LPBF (Laser Powder Bed Fusion) 3D printing process for producing complex 3D structural components with laser-based functional printing for producing sensors on or in a component. The fully digitally manufactured component with integrated sensors enables permanent component monitoring and early detection of overload conditions. The ILT uses a wireless telemetry solution from i4M-Technologies to transmit the sensor data. Potential fields of application for such "sensing components" can be found wherever predictive maintenance is already being applied. The production of component and sensor in one step should also enable the development of new fields of application in which condition monitoring was previously too complex or too expensive, such as automotive, consumer electronics or toolmaking.

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