Interview: Fabian Zechel, Fraunhofer IPT

Fabian Zechel is a Research Assistant within the Optical Metrology and Imaging Group at the Department Production Metrology of the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT. Discover his role, achievements and conclusions about ESSIAL in 5 questions and answers.

Question: Can you describe Fraunhofer IPT and its expertise related to the project?

The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology (IPT) develops system solutions for the networked, adaptive production of sustainable and resource-efficient products and the associated services. Our focus is on process technology, production machines, production quality and metrology, technology management, and ranges from the fundamentals to the digital transformation of production.

In the ESSIAL project, IPT is developing an inline measurement system based on optical coherence tomography (OCT) for quality control in the laser machine. The challenge is that typically production machines are not designed for the integration of OCT measurement technology. Here the IPT has a wide range of experience for the realization of such solutions. This includes the optical integration as well as the communication with the laser machine and the development of modular software solutions.

Q: What is your main role within the project?

We are working on the development of an OCT measurement system adapted to the project requirements and, in cooperation with LASEA, on its integration into the laser processing machine. This will enable quality control to be carried out directly in the process and therefore guarantee consistent results.

Q: Why did you decide to take part in ESSIAL?

New technologies require improved measurement technology. Especially in the field of laser material processing, there is a high potential to better monitoring and, if necessary, adaptively controlling processes. With its expertise, the IPT can make a decisive contribution here and at the same time develop further in the area of green manufacturing.

Q: What is the current status of your work within the project? What first results have you obtained?

As we are already very close to the project completion of ESSIAL, our work is already completed for the most part. The first result we achieved in ESSIAL was the development of an OCT adapted to the laser machine developed in ESSIAL. This enabled us to ensure that both the target parameters of the project could be met and that the interaction between the machine and the OCT worked very well.

Q: What was the main challenges related to your tasks?

Since we are using a measurement system with a beam path that is not designed for it, the challenge here was to work with different disturbances and to compensate for them. This allowed us to develop an OCT that is able to dynamically compensate for these disturbances at any time and thus constantly measure the ablation.