Three successful research institutes have launched and jointly operate the Karlsruhe Research Factory: the Fraunhofer Institutes ICT and IOSB and the wbk Institute for Production Technology of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). 

All three institutions are also part of the Digital Hub Karlsruhe. In the hubs, startups, business and science network to jointly create digital innovations. Today, innovations are mainly created at the interfaces between disciplines - in this respect, cooperation is the optimal breeding ground for quickly bringing new production processes for processing new materials to series maturity.

The three partners and their competences at a glance

Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT

Materials and process engineering

  • Materials and reactants
  • Handling of materials,
  • Manufacturing technology and processing,
  • Joining technology (together with the wbk).

The BMBF-funded project "Modular production plant for hybrid high performance components (MoPaHyb)" is one example of relevant preliminary work by the Fraunhofer ICT, the results of which are being incorporated into the work in the Karlsruhe research factory. Here, the concept and realization of a modular and (re-)configurable production plant have already been developed using the example of hybrid thermoplastic fiber composites. The focus was on the production architecture and the development of a higher-level control and regulation unit with standardized communication protocols. The flexible production cell is being tested on two different components.

In addition to the development of plant and control technology, the ICT is working in cooperation with other institutes on the self-regulation of processes which are not defined by parameter settings, but which "know" the component and optimize the production of the same by means of self-regulation.

To the Fraunhofer ICT website 


wbk Institute of Production Science at KIT

Intelligent automation and production technology:

  • Maturation of immature production processes
  • Agile production systems
  • Kinematic production
  • Reversible production
  • Intelligent machines and components

For some time now, the institute has been working on specific challenges that arise when processes are no longer subject to a fixed, centrally controlled sequence, but instead manufacturing systems act autonomously. The focus is on topics such as gripping technology and robotics for the application fields of lightweight manufacturing and electromobility. Relevant projects in this context were/are:

  • "Virtual design of gripping systems for sensitive components" by the BW Foundation,
  • "Smart body-in-white cells for a synergistic ramp-up of electrified vehicles," funded by the BMWi,
  • "Novel series-flexible winding processes for the economical automated production of high-performance electrical machines" of the BMBF and
  • the DFG project "Forming subordinate process modeling of the linear coil winding process".

To the website of the wbk Institute for Production Technology


Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB

IT and computer science

  • Sensors and actuators,
  • Measurement and control technology,
  • automation and control technology,
  • machine learning and data analytics,
  • online optimization.

The Fraunhofer ML4P project (Machine Learning for Production) and the CC-KING competence center for AI engineering are the most prominent ongoing or completed projects whose results are directly incorporated into the work at the Karlsruhe research factory. Here, the focus is on a systematic approach to the use of AI components in complex technical systems - and thus at the interface of experts from different disciplines.

Furthermore, the institute is active in the Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Internet Technologies, especially within the framework of the Machine Learning Research Center. Here, IOSB focuses on comprehensible, robust learning methods combined with production-specific expert knowledge.

To the Fraunhofer IOSB website