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We've all been there - you have a treasured possession, something you really want to hold on to, but you need a spare part for it that's no longer available. As a result, your treasure is never really the same again or - worse still - has to be consigned to the scrap heap. According to the champions of Industry 4.0, all that is in the process of changing, as production shifts to a batch size of one and customized manufacturing. But despite all the talk about "highly customized mass production", this vision still seems little more than an elusive image conjured by enthusiastic marketing teams. However, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD believe one of their developments now brings us a big step closer to seeing the vision of batch size one become a reality. At HANNOVER MESSE 2018, IGD researchers are revealing how an innovative 3D scanning system can give cherished old items a second - or even third - lease of life.

"The special thing about our system is that it scans components autonomously and in real time," says Pedro Santos, department head at Fraunhofer IGD. For the owners of vintage cars with a broken part, this means gluing together the defective component and placing it on a turntable beneath a robot arm fitted with the scanner. Everything else happens automatically. The robot arm moves the scanner around the component so that it can register the complete geometry with the minimum number of passes. Depending on the size and complexity of the component, this takes anything from a few seconds to a few minutes. While the scan is still running, intelligent algorithms create a three-dimensional image of the object in the background. Then a material simulation of the 3D image checks whether a 3D print would satisfy the relevant stability requirements. In a final step, the component is produced by a 3D printer and is then ready to be fitted into the cherished object that no longer has a ready supply of spare parts. All well and good, but what do you do when there isn’t a template available such as a glued-together original part? The IGD will be answering that question at HANNOVER MESSE 2019.