Several international institutions such as the Fraunhofer Institute for Additive Production Technologies (IAPT), DESY or ZAL (Center of Applied Aeronautical Research), and powerful research companies like Airbus, Philips or Eppendorf AG mean Hamburg is well placed to drive digital change forward. Universities across the city are also key players in this movement. Founders can go to the Startup Dock at the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) to turn an innovative idea into a marketable product. Established companies can develop and test disruptive business models in the Hamburg School of Business Administration’s (HSBA) Di-Lab and last year, the University of Applied Sciences (HAW Hamburg) opened the Creative Space for Technical Innovations (CSTI) to develop innovative ideas and turn them into prototypes.
3D space and virtual welding laboratory opened
At the end of May, Hamburg’s second largest university opened two new high-tech laboratories. In 3D space, abstract ideas become physical objects and users gain experience with 3D printing technology – from software to building their own 3D printers. Traditional craftsmanship is taught in a time and resource-saving manner in a virtual welding laboratory where seams are created without dangerous gases and vapours, noise and virtual flying sparks. The other new laboratory at the Institute of Materials Science and Welding Technology allows students to experience laser and robot-based 3D metal printing. Both laboratories are open to HAW students from various disciplines including aircraft and vehicle construction, mechatronics and mechanical engineering.
Making digitalisation tangible
Professor Olga Burkova, Vice President of Digitalisation at HAW, remarked: “Interdisciplinary and experimental digitalisation projects with their economic and socially relevant references play an increasingly important role in studies and teaching. Digitalisation is advancing and changing our working world. But the development of new technologies alone is not enough. Teaching digital literacy is just as important and is increasingly sought by companies.” Digitalisation is becoming tangible thanks to the new laboratories which will later be accessible to interested start-ups and companies and not only students.
3D space attracting global attention
Professor Günter Gravel, an expert on rapid prototyping and initiator of the 3D space, noted: “The interest is there,” and the concept of the 3D printing laboratory is making international waves. “I have just received an enquiry from San Francisco,” he added. Commerce in Hamburg has also expressed keen interest. Gravel pointed out: “We have made plenty of progress in digital development, but we need to move the economy even more. And we – the universities – are the nucleus.” Gravel is a member of the 3D printing network launched in February to promote the transfer of knowledge from science to business.
Becoming a leading 3D printing location
“By pooling our skills and conveying the ideas behind innovative technologies such as 3D printing to people, we are strengthening Hamburg as a business location,” Gravel believes. Hamburg is well on course to becoming a leading 3D printing centre in Germany. The new laboratories are likely to prove a sagacious investment in the future. HAW has invested EUR 300,000 in “3D space” as well as EUR 40,000 in maintenance costs while the welding laboratory including the virtual welding stations and robot-based metallic 3D printing have cost around EUR 390,000.