Future Topics


Innovation Program

Resilient Value Creation Systems


Industrie 4.0

Networked production, consumption and work: Until now, these have been visions of the future for the manufacture of products in their value chains. But long since arrived in the "production of the future" there are still many open questions and fears of contact.



Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing has become very popular under the banner of 3D printing. However, the impression that a completely new technology has been created is deceptive: these processes have been around for over 20 years. In order to make tool-less component production with the highest degree of geometric freedom industrially usable, the quality and reliability familiar from conventional processes must be achieved, as must the use of common, technical materials.



Biological Transformation

Biological transformation refers to the increasing use of materials, structures and principles of living nature in technology. The goal is the sustainable creation of value. The digital transformation as well as the progress and convergence of life, material and production sciences create completely new possibilities.


Artificial Intelligence in Production

The research field "Artificial Intelligence" (AI) aims to equip machines with capabilities that resemble intelligent (human) behavior. This can be achieved with preprogrammed rules or by machine learning.


Big Data

In the future, there will be a great demand for new types of robot systems that share the workspace with humans or work directly with each other. The goal of this human-robot collaboration is to combine the cognitive and highly flexible abilities of humans with the strengths of robots such as precision, load-bearing capacity and tireless commitment.


Human-Robot Collaboration

Massive amounts of data are an immense challenge for practically all branches of industry and the public sector. While the possibilities for collecting data are becoming more and more efficient, the analysis of the data is becoming more difficult due to high data volumes or high dynamics.

Lighthouse Projects


Machine Learning for Production ML4P

In Machine Learning for Production (ML4P), we anticipate that performance in modern production equipment - both in the process and in the piece goods industry - can be optimized using machine learning.


Cognitive Internet Technologies

In the Fraunhofer-Cluster CIT, 13 Fraunhofer Institutes use their expertise in microelectronics, information and communication technology and production to research the key technologies of the cognitive Internet.



E3 Production

Labour turnover, demographic developments, new technologies and working processes as well as constantly shorter innovation cycles all pose new challenges for production companies. That is why a joint project involving twelve Fraunhofer institutes is carrying out research into how we can integrate people and their innovative potential back into production.



Rare Earths

Mobility would be at a standstill without electric motors and their powerful permanent magnets. These owe their useful magnetic properties to the chemical elements neodymium and dysprosium, which belong to the group of rare earths. Sometimes called critical raw materials, nobody is sure whether the supply of rare earths will hold out in the medium and long term. But ensuring that these raw materials remain available on the world market is far from easy, and prices have been rising steadily for years. One of the factors affecting the expansion of emerging technologies is having these prized resources available in sufficient quantities. This is why Fraunhofer researchers in the »critical rare earths« lighthouse project are working on technologies to process rare earths more efficiently, reuse them or to find suitable substitutes.


Electricity as a Resource

In 2017, more than one-third of Germany’s electricity came from renewable energy sources – a growing trend. The progress of the energy transition is reducing the level of CO2 used for electricity and opening up new paths for electricity-driven production. Nine Fraunhofer in- stitutes are now pooling their competences in order to develop and optimize new electro- chemical processes, under the motto “Electricity as a resource”, for manufacturing impor- tant basic chemicals.



The lighthouse project „eHarsh“ aims at the development and provision of a technology platform, in which sensor systems comprising sensors and electronics are developed and manufactured for their application in extremely harsh environments. The consortium, consisting of seven Fraunhofer institutes headed by Fraunhofer IMS, addresses the growing demand for smart control and communication techniques within the industry and our society, particularly in the Fraunhofer fields of research “Mobility and Transport”, “Energy and Resources” and “Production and supply of Services”. Within the lighthouse project, robust sensors for the use up to 500 °C and MEMS sensors, integrated circuits and system components for the use up to 300 °C are developed and provided. At the same time, work on hermetically sealed encapsulations, 3D integration and encapsulations on a system level (“system-scaled package”), analytics, testing, reliability analyses and modeling is conducted. Fraunhofer ENAS is particularly working on MEMS acceleration sensors for geothermal energy (operation up to 300 °C) and the development of long-term stable hermetically sealed encapsulations with integrated ceramic windows for the sensor system as well as reliability studies.


Theranostic Implants

Twelve Fraunhofer Institutes led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT have joined forces to work on the Fraunhofer lead project “Theranostic Implants”. Until now most implants have been of the purely passive type – a typical example is orthopedic devices for bone repair. But there is a growing interest in active “theranostic” implants that combine therapeutic and diagnostic functions in a single medical device. These devices create a closed feedback loop in which vital parameters are recorded and provide the input for therapeutic intervention. Pacemakers, for example, are capable of responding to the need for increased blood flow to the muscles, for instance during physical exercise, by adjusting the stimulation pulse rate. Theranostic implants record numerous different biosignals, which they process, analyze and transmit to an external receiver. These signals then provide the basis for therapeutic intervention, which can take the form of electrical, biochemical or mechanical stimulation.


Go Beyond 4.0

Digital printing and laser technologies are as yet only rarely used for the individualization of products in mass production. However, this combination of approaches would make it possible to create individualized series products in a resource-efficient and cost-saving manner, even down to manufacturing single unique items. Mastering this challenge is the objective of the new Fraunhofer lighthouse project "Go Beyond 4.0".