Shaping the future.

Composite structures as part of a digital vision

Sven Torstrick-von der Lieth is a materials engineer at the Institute of Composite Structures and Adaptive Systems. Together with his team he carries out groundbreaking research in aircraft construction.

Digitalisation is creating great opportunities in DLR research areas and cooperation with industry. New technologies also offer numerous innovative applications in composite lightweight construction. My team and I are responding to global change by exploring mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering and computer science in relation to the production of aerostructures. We are using virtual reality applications and digital twins to visualise automated production processes.

My team and I conduct research on an industrial scale

Sven Torstrick-von der Lieth visualises production processes

Compared to other research teams, we possess a decisive advantage – we operate a complete production line at our institute in Stade and can easily run through fully automated manufacturing processes for aircraft construction. We manufacture complete wing shells, aircraft fuselages and other components. We also operate the largest research autoclave in the world, which we use to cure aircraft components as if in an oven.

With this infrastructure we achieve realistic results and instantly highlight any problems. Most laboratories have ideal rather than real-world conditions, which means that many of the findings are not directly applicable to industrial processes. Our work differs in this aspect because we can implement our findings immediately. Instead of inspecting finished components for damage, the entire manufacturing process is optimised so that defects in the final product are almost entirely avoided. This allows us to communicate on equal terms with similarly well-established industrial partners.

I can visualise aircraft construction from the inside

As part of our collaboration, my team and I are taking one step further: by using virtual reality applications and digital twins, we are visualising and optimising automated production processes. We network the physical and virtual plant, and all sensor and machine data that accumulates in the digital twin of the machine is linked to the actual processes in the production hall.

So what is my vision of the manufacturing plant of the future? Operators receive error messages from a machine on their smartphone. Ideally, they can fix the problem immediately with the help of a tutorial displayed on their smart glasses.  In complicated cases, they simply request help from the manufacturer, who connects to the system remotely using virtual reality. Production in aircraft construction thus becomes more flexible, less complicated and more cost-effective – with my expertise, I am therefore helping to shape future aircraft construction at DLR.

Would you like to shape the future with us? You can find the current job advertisements of our Institute of Composite Structures and Adaptive Systems here.

Like Sven Torstrick-von der Lieth, all researchers at DLR  pursue their tasks with curiosity and passion every day. They are free to focus all their energy on research and carry out pioneering work in the areas of aeronautics, space, energy, transport, security and digitalisation. 

What do our researchers value at DLR?

  • a personnel policy that offers equal opportunities and is family-friendly
  • flexible working time models and 30 days annual leave
  • further education, communication and leadership training 
  • comprehensive services for childcare and dependents in need of care, provided by an external cooperation partner
  • a management culture based on respect

Would you like to bring your expertise and innovative drive to DLR? You can find our current job advertisements here.


Information for applicants




DLR Institute of Composite Structures and Adaptive Systems

To institute