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University of Twente opens Fraunhofer R&D center in Netherlands
Author:optics.org Time:Mar 04, 2017 View:

26 Jan 2017

Photonics-heavy program aims to innovate across “valley of death” to keep Dutch and German industry at competitive forefront.

Initial projects include laser forming, labs-on-a-chip, and opto-mechanical sensors.
Initial projects include laser forming, labs-on-a-chip, and opto-mechanical sensors.

This week, the Fraunhofer project center for design and production engineering for complex high-tech systems at the University of Twente (known as FPC@UT) was officially opened by the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, Henk Kamp. At this early stage, among its R&D objectives there is already a strong emphasis on photonics-related projects and collaborations.
FPC@UT is a joint initiative between the UT, the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology (IPT) in Aachen, Germany, and Saxion University of Applied Sciences in Enschede, the Netherlands. The center is an in-house unit, based at the campus of the University of Twente, Netherlands, and has a starting phase of five years.

The principal objective of the center is to address so-called smart industry’s current pressing product and production needs. FPC@UT will focus on the development of smart production for smart products technologies and is targeting a broad range of end-use markets.

Pilot projects

The partners have agreed to start-off with the launch of three to five pilot projects, which have been defined within the focus area of smart production for smart products and the wider domain of design and production of complex high-tech systems.
The first batch of R&D themes for the pilot projects are predictive maintenance, laser forming, fabrication of low cost piezoelectric microsystems for lab-on-a-chip applications, wafer-level glass molding for integrated opto-mechanical sensors and multimaterial laser- direct micro circuit generation.

The university’s launch statement said, “Industrial production of the future will be characterized by energy- and resource-efficient, environment-friendly manufacturing technologies, adaptive, intelligent and human-friendly manufacturing equipment as well as network-centric communication throughout the value chain.

“The market size of this sector is considerable. In the Netherlands, there has been a rapid development in the industry for high-tech systems in recent decades, with an annual turnover of more than €27 billion. FPC@UT addresses industrial challenges and technological needs through joint R&D projects and grants access to state-of-the-art technologies and development of technology.

Fred van Houten, Professor of Design Engineering at UT, commented, “Fraunhofer stands for the social relevance of scientific research.

The FPC@UT launch team at Monday's opening ceremony.
The FPC@UT launch team at Monday's opening ceremony.

"This collaboration is an incredibly important step, not only for Twente but also for all of the Netherlands. Partly because of the economic crisis, the government has come to realize in recent years that the industry provides the money and jobs that keep our economy running – even more than the service sector.
“We're working hard in this region to turn Twente into a technological top region and we are certain that this fitting collaboration is a necessity to achieve this goal. Germany is the most important hinterland for Twente."

Professor Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, commented, “It is our mission at Fraunhofer to strengthen the European industry and research region with dynamically-developing research hubs in the USA and Asia.

"The Netherlands is one of our European priority countries of cooperation, with established strategic relationships such as we have with Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen in the field of automation in medical imaging.”
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