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News Article | November 4, 2015
Site: phys.org

Surgery is unavoidable for treating inner ear tumors, but the inner ear is difficult to access. This is because it is covered by a cranial bone known as the mastoid, or petrosal bone. What's more, the surrounding tissue contains lots of nerves and blood vessels. For this reason the surgeons will cut out as much of the mastoid bone as needed until they have located each one of these sensitive structures. Only then can they be sure not to damage them. What this entails most of the time is the removal of the entire bone. The hole thus created is filled in with fatty tissue taken from the abdomen after the completion of the procedure. In the future this operation will be performed in a less invasive fashion, requiring just a small hole measuring 5 mm in diameter through which the tumor can be resected from the inner ear. The technology that makes this possible goes by the name of NiLiBoRo, a German acronym which stands for "Non-linear Drilling Robot". The system is being developed by researchers in the Mannheim Project Group for Automation in Medicine and Biotechnology, part of the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology and Automation IPA, in cooperation with the Technical University of Darmstadt, the University of Aachen, and the Düsseldorf University Clinic. Drilling machines capable of boring a tunnel through bone already exist, but they can do so only in a straight line. "NiLiBoRo is the first one that can drill around corners as well," says project group scientist Lennart Karstensen. It is this particular characteristic that makes it possible to perform minimally invasive surgery on inner ear tumors. If the tunnel were to run in a straight line, it would at times come troublingly close to hitting nerves. To avoid injuring nerve tissue, the tunnel would have to be no more than 1 to 2 mm in diameter. However, it is impossible to perform surgery through such a small opening. The NiLiBoRo on the other hand is capable of steering around sensitive areas. This makes it possible to achieve a tunnel diameter of 5 m, which is wide enough to perform the operation. Hydraulic lines allow the robot worm to crawl forward So how does this "worm" manage to drill around curves and corners through the mastoid bone? "The worm consists of a 'head' and a 'tail' section," explains Karstensen. "Both of these parts are connected with one another by means of a flexible bellows mechanism." The design is reminiscent of an articulated public transit bus in which the front and rear sections are coupled by means of a hose-like center section that looks like an accordion. As it travels through the bone, the robot is connected to the "outside world" – in other words the control units and pumps in the operation room – by means of 8 to 12 hydraulic lines. It is these lines that allow the robot to crawl forward in the right direction. This is done by first pumping hydraulic fluid into three bladders found in the rear section of the robot. The bladders fill in the empty space between the worm and the bone and thereby fix the rear section of the robot in place. The hydraulic fluid then travels into the bellows. This causes the "accordion" to expand, which pushes the head forward. The worm stretches, so to speak, and presses its front section further into the bone. The drill attached to the head bores deeper inward. Now the rear section retracts towards the head in a motion similar to that of a real worm. To do so, the bladders in the front section are pumped full of fluid to hold the front in place while the fluid in the rear bladders is evacuated. At this point the fluid is also being sucked out of the bellows through the hydraulic lines. The robot contracts, which pulls the rear section up behind the front. In this way the NiLiBoRo makes its way forward bit by bit. "We can alter the robot's direction of travel by adjusting the bladders in the front section. For instance, if we wanted to move left then we fill the left bladder with less fluid than the right, which will cause the robot to veer to the left," says Karstensen. In the laboratory, and later in the operation room, the path the NiLiBoRo takes as it drills its way forward is precisely monitored by an electromagnetic tracking system, or EMT for short. Designed by partners at the Technical University of Darmstadt, this system works by sporadically capturing images of the robot using computer tomography in order to monitor its position. Researchers have already constructed an initial prototype of the NiLiBoRo, which is currently five times larger than the planned final version. Right now it is composed of only the forward section together with the heart of the machine, the bellows. The developers plan to continue optimizing and expanding the prototype piece by piece. Once all the technology has been developed, the NiLiBoRo will be shrunk down to its final size. Researchers hope to have the miniature robot ready for testing by physicians in two years.


News Article | January 28, 2016
Site: phys.org

Industry 4.0 requires comprehensive data collection in order to control highly automated process sequences in complex production environments. One example is the cultivation of living cells. But digitalizing and networking biotech production equipment is a huge challenge: relevant standards have yet to be established, and biology has a dynamic all its own. Using fully automated equipment for producing stem cells, Fraunhofer researchers have managed to adjust the process control to cell growth – delivering an adaptive system that is suitable for use in a number of sectors. The term industry 4.0 is generally associated with the manufacturing of cars, machinery or industrial goods. But, as the partners (see box) in the StemCellFactory collaborative project show, the comprehensive networking of machines and products is also making headway in biotechnology. This is a particular challenge, because this field deals not with solid components but with living objects that – unlike screws or gears – change and multiply. Networked process control needs to take this into account and be able to adjust the process accordingly in real time. The StemCellFactory project partners have set up a fully automated production line for culturing stem cells, which can develop into any kind of cell found in the body; experts call them induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT will be presenting the production line at the Hannover Messe Preview on January 27 and at the Hannover Messe (Hall 17, Booth C18 and Hall 2, Booth C16) from April 25 to 29. Medical expertise was provided by experts from the university clinics in Bonn and Aachen, among others. iPS cells such as these are necessary in the development of medications used in personalized medicine. They are obtained from adult body cells such as human skin or blood cells. First, a doctor takes cells from a patient. Next, these cells are reprogrammed to become iPS cells by adding certain substances. This causes the cells to revert to an embryonic state, from which they can theoretically differentiate into any cell type – even heart or nerve cells, which, owing to the risk to the patient, cannot be obtained by means of a biopsy. The pharmaceutical industry uses these cells for medical tests: since they contain the patient's own genetic information, the cells are very useful for determining which medications will be effective. To date, iPS cells are grown by lab specialists in a painstaking, time-consuming process. The number and quality of iPS cells that can be cultured depend entirely on how experienced the lab technician is. This is why the project aimed to develop fully automated, modular equipment that achieves both a high throughput and a consistently high quality of stem cells. The IPT experts were given the task of developing both the equipment and its control mechanisms. They faced a number of challenges, the first being how to network the various biotech devices – liquid handling robot, a microscope, an incubator, and the automatic magazine for storing cells and containers – in a way that permitted the use of process-control technology in the first place. "Despite the industry's efforts to establish uniform interfaces for lab automation equipment, there is as yet no international standard for networking the devices used," says IPT developer Michael Kulik. "That means plug and play is not an option, so we first had to develop a standard of our own before we could integrate everything." This approach achieved a very high degree of networking in order to allow the process-control technology and the lab equipment to exchange information. That in turn was the prerequisite for the equipment to adjust extremely flexibly to the biological processes at work. Cell growth is the decisive factor. As the cells grow in the cell culture vessels, they divide again and again. To ensure conditions don't get too cramped for the cells, from time to time the pipette feeder robot has to distribute them among a larger number of fresh, empty cell culture vessels. To this end, the microscope developed at the IPT regularly examines the growth density inside the cell culture vessels. Once a critical density is reached, the microscope sends out an instruction to rehouse the cells. "This is an example of the product, in this case the growing stem cells, determining how the overall process unfolds," says Kulik. In other words: production has the capability to adjust itself to the present situation. A user interface makes it easy to control each device included in the equipment. If the user needs to alter or add to the equipment's process steps, there are pre-programmed blocks of instructions that they can simply drag into or out of the control menu. Staff can choose whether to operate the equipment in fully automated or manual mode. The technology developed as part of the StemCellFactory project can also be applied in other situations, for instance in tissue engineering and the production of tissue models. It would also be possible to use it to manufacture gears, screws, engines, etc. in a fully automated way. The software is scalable, making it suitable for small and large production facilities alike. Since the programming is extremely flexible, the process-control technology can be transferred to any other production setup in need of adaptive control on the basis of current measurement data. During the Hannover Messe, visitors will be treated to a live demonstration of how the StemCellFactory is controlled remotely, specifically from Bonn. Explore further: Production of iPS cells: Discovery of the fifth element


Klocke F.,RWTH Aachen | Brummer C.M.,Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology
Procedia Engineering | Year: 2014

A new laser integration into a spinning machine was developed offering the flexibility to apply completely new processing strategies for laser-assisted multi-pass metal spinning. In this process the formability of challenging materials is improved by selective heating of the forming zone by means of laser. In order to decrease the strength and increase the formability of titanium (grade 2) experimental investigations have been performed to generate a suitable temperature field in the workpiece. © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


Brecher C.,Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology | Rosen C.-J.,Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology | Emonts M.,Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology
Physics Procedia | Year: 2010

Advanced high-strength materials offer a huge application potential within highly stressed components in various industrial areas. But their machinability is still limited when applying established and conventionally available technologies. Aiming at the reduction of process forces, increased material removal rates and longer tool service life without application of cooling lubricants the Fraunhofer IPT has developed a novel process concept for laser-assisted milling with local laser-induced material plastification before cutting. The following paper comprises the novel process approach, fundamental process investigations, the design of a spindle-tool system with integrated beam guidance, laser control and first investigations with the new system. © 2010 Published by Elsevier B.V.


Pohlmann U.,Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology
WCOP 2013 - Proceedings of the International Doctoral Symposium on Components and Architecture | Year: 2013

The number of software components within a cyber-physical systems increases continuously. However, not all components are needed at all time. Because of structural changes of software and hardware it is possible to use resources more efficiently. For example, energy is saved by shutting down currently not needed ECUs. Software component instances (SCIs) must be deployed to an electronic control unit (ECU) to be executed. A safe deployment must consider the changes of the software and hardware structure. State-of-the-art deployment algorithms like [14] are not designed for reconfigurable software applications and reconfigurable hardware platforms. This paper presents first ideas how to specify reconfigurable hardware platforms and how to consider software and hardware changes for a safe deployment at design time. We demonstrate the properties of our deployment approach for reconfigurable cyber-physical systems by using Lego mindstorms robots. Copyright © 2013 ACM.


Brecher C.,Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology | Utsch P.,Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology | Klar R.,Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology | Wenzel C.,Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology
International Journal of Machine Tools and Manufacture | Year: 2010

Due to raising functional integration in micro fluidic, micro mechanic, micro electronic and micro optical systems the trend to scaling down the work piece sizes while increasing its complexity requires high precise machine accuracy. With respect to the process and geometrical parameters, most of the finishing manufacturing processes can be covered by milling and grinding operations with three or five machine axes. But whereas the available machine tools hardly achieve the required process dynamic and accuracy in all degrees of freedom, the requirements still increase. For this reason the Fraunhofer IPT has developed high precise machine tools following a compact design strategy by reducing the overall machine dimensions as far as conventional machine components such as measuring or drive systems were available. The developments of two compact machine tools exemplify the dynamic and accuracy enhancement by compact design and are described in the following. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Frank S.,Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology
Journal of Materials Processing Technology | Year: 2015

Joints between aluminum and galvanized steel pose a challenge for current manufacturing technologies. A hybrid joining method, which combines a pulsed and a continuous laser beam in a single process, has been identified as a potential solution for this challenge. The feasibility of this approach is verified by joining different base material alloys using zinc- and aluminum-based consumables. It is shown that the double beam method can be applied to different joint geometries by joining both double-flanged joints and lap joints. An analysis of the joint microstructure using metallographic cross-sections and transmission electron microscopy shows that intermetallic compounds can be limited to non-critical amounts. Tensile tests show that joint strengths in excess of 150 MPa can be achieved for both types of joint geometries. When shear loads are applied, the use of aluminum-based consumables leads to superior strength. © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Hunten M.,Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering | Year: 2010

Miniaturization and integration are the dominating factors for the success of numerous optical devices. Conventional manufacturing processes for the fabrication of precise glass optics by means of grinding and polishing cannot cope the increasing demands in terms of precision, volume and costs. Here, precision glass molding is the enabling technology to meet these demands of the future optical products and applications. Since the market requests further miniaturization and integration of the micro optical components the possession of the entire sequence of processes is absolutely essential. With the accomplished and ongoing developments at the Fraunhofer IPT, the replication of double-sided (a)spherical and (a)cylindrical glass lenses with form accuracies of < 150 nm as well as lens arrays and even freeform optics could be realized. Therefore, a sequence of processes needs to be passed. The FEM-simulation of the molding process which was driven to a point capable to simulate even the molding of freeform optics is the first process step. Further on, new mold design concepts were generated to enable the replication of free formed optics. The research works focusing on the mold manufacturing led to sophisticated grinding process strategies able to realized complex mold geometries such as lens arrays. With regard to the coating of the molds, proceedings were developed assuring a defect free and uniform coating which enables the longevity of the molds and therewith helps reducing the final costs per lens. Thus, the precision glass molding becomes more and more interesting even for highly complex mid volume lots, characteristic for European or US optics manufacturer. © 2010 Copyright SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering.


Bulla B.,Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology | Klocke F.,Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology | Dambon O.,Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology
Journal of Materials Processing Technology | Year: 2012

Ultra precision diamond turning is usually applied for processing non ferrous metals, plastics and a few single crystal materials. The machining of hard and brittle material, such as nano crystalline, binderless tungsten carbide has only been investigated within a few publications on a theoretical basis and applying nano indenting. Therefore the goal of this paper is to qualify the ultra precision diamond turning technique for processing nano crystalline, binderless tungsten carbide applying the real process conditions identifying optimal parameters. A potential application of this process would be the mold manufacturing for precision glass molding. Within a systematical procedure the ductile to brittle transition is analyzed as well as the tool wear, varying both, tool geometry and processing parameters. Based on material analysis the critical depth of cut for the material was calculated at 165 nm. This value could be validated in the experiments at the optimal cutting speed of 50 m/min with a feed of 1 μm. Least tool wear was observed at a tool radius of 0.4 mm and a rake angle of -20°. The experiments demonstrate the strong influence of the processing conditions on the achieved results. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Frank S.,Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering | Year: 2014

Multi-material structures pose an attractive option for overcoming some of the central challenges in lightweight design. An exceptionally high potential for creating cost-effective lightweight solutions is attributed to the combination of steel and aluminum. However, these materials are also particularly difficult to join due to their tendency to form intermetallic compounds (IMCs). The growth of these compounds is facilitated by high temperatures and long process times. Due to their high brittleness, IMCs can severely weaken a joint. Thus, it is only possible to create durable steel-aluminum joints when the formation of IMCs can be limited to a non-critical level. To meet this goal, a new joining method has been designed. The method is based on the combination of a continuous wave (pw) and a pulsed laser (pw) source. Laser beams from both sources are superimposed in a common process zone. This makes it possible to apply the advantages of laser brazing to mixed-metal joints without requiring the use of chemical fluxes. The double beam technology was first tested in bead-on-plate experiments using different filler wire materials. Based on the results of these tests, a process for joining steel and aluminum in a double-flanged configuration is now being developed. The double flanged seams are joined using zinc- or aluminum-based filler wires. Microsections of selected seams show that it is possible to achieve good base material wetting while limiting the growth of IMCs to acceptable measures. In addition, the results of tensile tests show that high joint strengths can be achieved. © 2014 SPIE.

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