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„Ideal basis for research“

Close cooperation between economy and science

By providing a new GRM-NC, the bNX design software and a BIMERIC, Otto Bihler Maschinenfabrik is deepening its collaboration with the Kempten University of Applied Science. The focus of the joint research and development activities is placed on future-oriented practical solutions for digital sheet metal processing.

For Otto Bihler Maschinenfabrik, intensive, partnership-based collaboration with universities, academies and research institutes has long played a crucial role. It means that the company is always fully informed about current research topics and issues for the future and is able to provide targeted support for ongoing work and process-related projects and then implement these successfully. In this way, both parties benefit from valuable synergisms and increased innovative capabilities. One long-term partner in this area is the Kempten University of Applied Science. “With the Kempten University of Applied Science, we have been able to count on an experienced technology partner at our side for the last 15 years. The scientific staff in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, which is headed by Professor Christian Donhauser, undertake outstanding applied research work whose results are directly integrated in our developments. Our experts in Halblech provide committed support to the scientists and we are constantly exchanging knowledge,” stresses Mathias Bihler, Managing Director of Otto Bihler Maschinenfabrik.

Research for Industry 4.0

With the new GRM-NC servo stamping and bending machine, the Kempten University of Applied Science now possesses another modern Bihler system allowing it to expand its research and teaching activities in the field of stamping and bending. “On the one hand, this high-quality equipment and our close contact with Bihler helps us focus our research on the future. On the other, it makes a great contribution by helping enthuse our students for stamping and bending technology and preparing them for their future professional careers,” explains Professor Donhauser. And a very real forward-looking project is already running on the new GRM-NC, namely the implementation of a cutting module and a locating mechanism for cutting and accurately catching the stamped strip. This is achieved by means of the real-time transfer of process-related information from the VC1 controller via an OPC/UA interface to mobile terminal devices such as iPads and iPhones, for example. The module developed to do this permits the precise assignment of the optical measurement to the associated stroke. “The inline measurement of the cut edges makes it possible to detect wear at the punches and dies and identify defective parts as early as the production stage,” explains Mathias Bihler. “The knowledge that is gained increases the intelligence of our machines and controllers in the field of predictive maintenance and prepares them perfectly for the digital demands of Industry 4.0.”

Measuring device for inline quality monitoring: images of each die-cutting surface are generated by means of a specially designed camera system and associated lighting.

Bihler software as knowledge base

Alongside the GRM-NC, the Kempten University of Applied Science also received licenses for Bihler’s bNX engineering design software. “We installed a total of 24 bNX student licenses for training purposes. These are used in lectures on the basics of NX and, in particular, when teaching standardized LEANTOOL tool design,” explains Professor Donhauser. The scientific staff receive individual NX training from Bihler, which includes tuition in the LEANTOOL design approach. At the same time, tool design using the bNX software is included in the lecture on stamping and bending technology. During their bNX software projects, all the students receive in-depth support from Bihler’s Project Planning/Technical Sales team. There is also a plan for Bihler’s experts to give guest lectures on tool design using the LEANTOOL approach and to speak about successfully implemented process solutions. And for its part, the University will examine the design methodology for new LEANTOOL tools in accordance with the radial and progressive tooling principles as part of a bachelor thesis.

Investing in the future

Alongside these ongoing research and teaching projects, other futureoriented cooperative projects between the Kempten University of Applied Science and Otto Bihler Maschinenfabrik are in the pipeline. For example, Bihler, together with Siemens Industry Software GmbH, has addressed the question of FEM analysis for evaluating parts behavior during the bending process. Joint projects  regarding the topics of simulation and virtual commissioning are also scheduled, in particular since a new course on this theme will be offered in the very near future. And in fall 2018, the Kempten University of Applied Science received another Bihler machine in the form of a BIMERIC, which will be used for research in the welding field. “Thanks to your commitment, we will soon be able to make today’s visions into a reality and contribute to securing the future of Germany as an industrial location,” was the way University President Robert Schmidt, summarized things when thanking Mathias Bihler at the official handover of the machine on 9th July 2018.

Kempten University of Applied Sciences is the only public institution of higher education in Allgäu to provide academic training in engineering sciences, business administration and tourism, computer science and multimedia, and social and health studies. Since its foundation in 1977, this educational hub at the foot of the Alps has gone from strength to strength.

From the original provisional building, the site on Bahnhofstrasse has evolved into a 53,000m² university campuswith state-of-the-art teaching buildings, laboratories, a library and spacious canteen. Kempten University of Applied Sciences has developed its own unique profile based on the broad, solid training it provides in a tight core of foundation studies with appropriate specialisation at advanced level. Our courses are specially geared towards practical relevance and internationalisation across the board.  

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