Karlsruhe Institute of Technology: Karlsruhe Research Factory: Industrialize production processes quickly

Transferring theoretical knowledge quickly into profitable industrial applications and services: This is the guiding principle under which the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft conduct joint research in the Karlsruhe Research Factory on the East Campus of the KIT. The digitization of production and the possibilities of artificial intelligence are the focus of the research work, which is based on close cooperation with industrial partners. Today (March 28th, 2022) the partners opened the new construction of the development and demonstration center together with the Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg Winfried Kretschmann, Science Minister Theresia Bauer and Economics Minister Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut and around 400 representatives from politics, science and industry.

In the Karlsruhe research factory, the wbk Institute for Production Technology of the KIT, the Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB and the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT pursue the common goal of industrializing production processes quickly – from knowledge-oriented basic research to practical optimization and industrialization in joint research projects up to the transfer to economic use at the Baden-Württemberg site.

Prime Minister Kretschmann emphasizes the relevance for the economy of Baden-Württemberg

“The terrible war in Ukraine is also showing us how quickly the requirements for production processes can change. But even apart from such extreme events, companies need a lot of flexibility: when quantities fluctuate. When customers don’t want run-of-the-mill standard, but custom-made products. Or when it’s no longer just about building better and better cars – but about a completely new mobility experience,” said Prime Minister Kretschmann. “For these challenges, companies need a laboratory in which excellent research meets operational practice and in which new technologies are developed and tested and quickly made ready for series production. Especially in three future fields that are important for our country – electromobility, lightweight construction and Industry 4.

Transfer and classification in science policy

“As a protected space for cooperation between science and industry, the research factory offers an excellent environment for testing new approaches and putting them directly into practice. The Karlsruhe research factory will be a source of ideas and innovations that not only strengthen Baden-Württemberg as a research location, but also advance the companies involved. Baden-Württemberg will also be even more visible internationally as a source of inspiration,” said Theresia Bauer, Baden-Württemberg’s Minister for Science, Research and Art, during a discussion between science and politics. This is also true for the transformation into mobility and digitization in Baden-Württemberg. Württemberg crucial: “In the research factory, companies and researchers will work together on key issues for the future competitiveness of our economy. The factory thus strengthens the unique industrial ecosystem in our country and thus contributes to successfully overcoming the challenges of transformation. Our goal is for Baden-Württemberg to remain a leading location for industrial innovation and production in the future,” says Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut, Baden-Württemberg Minister for Economic Affairs, Labor and Tourism. that Baden-Württemberg will remain a leading location for industrial innovation and production in the future,” says Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut, Baden-Württemberg Minister for Economic Affairs, Labor and Tourism. that Baden-Württemberg will remain a leading location for industrial innovation and production in the future,” says Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut, Baden-Württemberg Minister for Economic Affairs, Labor and Tourism.

Science and industry: together towards success

The decisive factor here is the close cooperation between science and industry, emphasized Professor Holger Hanselka, President of the KIT: “The Karlsruhe research factory is a blueprint for mutual success. Through the close cooperation with the industry, we merge the most promising approaches to innovative solutions for manufacturing companies as well as mechanical and plant engineering.” The scientists see the digitization of production and the potential of artificial intelligence as an important component of success. ” Using artificial intelligence (AI) methods, the time-to-market is significantly reduced so that companies can be successful in their target markets much earlier,” says Professor Raoul Klingner, Director of Research at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

Concrete objectives and solution approaches of the Karlsruhe Research Factory

“The world in which we live and work is not stable, but volatile. Agile, versatile production concepts and the rapid enabling of processes have the potential to maintain value creation in Baden-Württemberg in the long term,” says Professor Jürgen Fleischer, head of the wbk Institute for Production Technology at KIT during a keynote speech. Professor Jürgen Beyerer, head of the Fraunhofer IOSB, emphasizes: “By means of temporarily additional instrumentation with sensors and actuators as well as machine learning, we can get to know processes faster, control them effectively, make them productive faster and optimize them, even if we don’t yet understand all the influences and connections. Professor Frank Henning, Head of the Fraunhofer ICT, adds: “Lightweight concepts make it possible

Electromobility, lightweight construction and Industry 4.0

During the tours, the Prime Minister and the ministers as well as the other participants were able to get their own impression of current projects in the research fields of electromobility, lightweight construction and Industry 4.0 as well as of the central production technology challenges for companies: shorter product life cycles, individualized products and the increasing use of new technologies. In the context of electromobility, research is being carried out into highly efficient electric traction motors, powerful batteries with variable cell formats and the cost-effective production of fuel cells. In the field of lightweight manufacturing, additive manufacturing processes, the resource-efficient use of materials and the production of hydrogen tanks are the focus of current research work. In the research field Industry 4.


According to the current status, the total construction costs of the project, which is efficiently managed by the planning and construction departments of the KIT and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, will probably amount to around 17 million euros (net). The KIT was provided with a gross construction budget of around 9.6 million euros for the construction of its part of the building and its initial equipment by the Ministry of Science, Research and Art, which is expected to be undercut. A joint net construction budget of 8.5 million euros was made available by the federal and state governments for the construction of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft building. Of this, 3.5 million euros come from the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and 2.5 million euros each come from the federal government and the Ministry of Economics, Work and tourism in Baden-Württemberg. In addition, there are 1.15 million euros for the equipment of the Fraunhofer institutes, which are each financed equally by the federal government and the Ministry of Economics, Labor and Tourism of Baden-Württemberg. The state has also provided the land for the construction project.

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