DLR's GroFi® research facility

The large-scale GroFi® facility is based at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Center for Lightweight-Production-Technology in Stade. The facility is focused on coordinated robotics and the automated production of large fibre-composite components. The simultaneous use of several robotic units is to develop production technologies for the manufacturing of large-scale, highly integrated components using automated fibre-placement processes. In doing so, new and innovative approaches are being taken that will enable optimised, reproducible and, at the same time, cost-effective manufacturing.

Robots work on large-scale components made of fibre-composite materials

With the help of the GroFi® fibre placement and tape laying system, the material required for the processing step involving fibre placement and preform production can be analysed and validated under conditions similar to those seen in industry. In addition to the testing of materials – such as epoxy prepreg, thermoplastic, dry fibres, fibre-metal laminates and others – the facility enables new technologies and processes to be developed. Such technologies can be assessed through the simulation and demonstration of manufacturing processes with predefined requirements (for example, production rate, component quality and cost).

The simultaneous use of several robot units can drastically reduce production times, as well as the production facility’s workload; additionally, this approach allows a range of different materials and technologies to be used for demand-oriented component production.

The applications of the facility include the development of self-regulating processes, which fulfil the requirements of Industry 4.0. In such processes, design is based on precise technology and process simulation, where information relevant to component manufacturing is collected digitally and analysed using intelligent plant control systems. In addition, adaptive and corrective measures are introduced if required. Potential industry users include component manufacturers, system suppliers and material manufacturers.


Volker Speelmann

Head of Research Infrastructures
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Executive Board department for Innovation, Transfer and Research Infrastructure
Linder Höhe, 51147 Cologne

Christian Krombholz

Strategical Machine Officer
Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
Cen­ter for Lightweight Pro­duc­tion Tech­nol­o­gy (ZLP)
Composite Process Technologies
Ottenbecker Damm 12, 21684 Stade