PZH start-up develops mobile machine tool

Team of IFW researchers (left to right): Dominik Brouwer, Daniel Niederwestberg, Thomas Krawczyk and Robert Wilken. (Photo: IFW)

IFW | A machine tool of manageable size, mobile and precise, capable of holding on to a component and advancing on it: This idea of engineers of the Hannover Centre of Production Technology (PZH) was honoured with the EXIST Business Start-up Grant. Completion of the prototype is scheduled for the beginning of 2017.

In 2015, the team already won the hannover-impuls Start-up Award, and in early 2016 the EXIST Business Start-up Grant. The innovation: a machine tool which is brought to the component. Presently, components – even large ones like components for ships or aircraft – are always brought to the machine tool. “In our opinion, it should be the other way round“, says Thomas Krawczyk, one of the design engineers of the Institute of Production Engineering and Machine Tools (IFW).

The mobile machine tool is of modular design. Hold-on devices can easily be changed, like taking off shoes. Outer housing and spindle housing are equipped with such devices, which for example adhere magnetically. In this way, the whole mobile machine tool can crawl along the component exactly to the intended position which is monitored by an external laser measuring system.

“For the time being, our focus is on milling“, explains Krawczyk, “but in the end, it doesn’t make any difference to us, whether we integrate a spindle, a print head or a riveting device into our mobile concept“.

by Julia Förster and Daniel Niederwestberg

Image gallery for this article

  • Team of IFW researchers (left to right): Dominik Brouwer, Daniel Niederwestberg, Thomas Krawczyk and Robert Wilken. (Photo: IFW)
  • The demonstrator of the mobile machine tool is already able to machine plastic material. In early 2017, the real prototype shall be completed. (Photo: IFW)
  • Application scenario at an aircraft body: The mobile machine tool holds on to the component and crawls along the component. (Photo: IFW)
  • The EXIST founders grant is a funding program of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and co-financed by the European Social Fund.

Video for this article

  • In the video clip, Thomas Krawczyk explains how the mobile machine tool works.