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BladeMakerTogether with 15 partners, the Fraunhofer IWES has coordinated the development of a manufacturing center which was inaugurated in Bremerhaven. Scientists, rotor blade and component manufacturers, providers of production controls, and material suppliers have been working together on the concept and process development for three and a half years. The initial goal is to achieve savings of minimum 10 per cent through more efficient production processes, the use of innovative materials and carefully selected automation approaches.

Contrary to the general trend in composite manufacturing, linear drives with additional rotational degrees of freedom are preferred to a robot solution. The L-shaped design of both gantry robots offers two crucial advantages: Loading and unloading from the side is possible and the rotor blade can still be accessed by techni-cians for performing additional work. The lightweight gantry robot system combines the precision of a milling machine with a load-bearing capacity of up to 500 kilogram. Various process heads can be attached to each of the two gantry robots which work either independently or in parallel. They move along the lines at a maximum speed of 2.5 m/second. A heavy-load platform for transporting the semi-finished products and materials is towed along the floor to facilitate the setting up of the gantry robots.IWES scientists will continue to examine manufacturing and process technologies in order to identify the ideal blade design for industrialized production until fall 2017. The next milestone is the manufacture of a model blade which will pass through the various production steps. This will provide an opportunity to identify areas for improvement as well as compare and assess results. The demonstration center is open to all interested industrial companies for production-related testing.

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