It’s a long way from the Big Apple to Bremen – the Hanseatic city was quite a culture shock for Chirag Shah and Keyur Solanki. In the summer of 2018, the two students travelled from New York University to spend two months in the comparatively quaint city of Bremen.
During this time, they got to know and love the city: “I had never heard about Bremen before the internship but I left with a heavy heart”, says Keyur Solanki, who is studying mechanical and aerospace engineering in New York. “We made more friends and connections in Bremen than in New York. The Gothic architecture with modern amenities looked beautiful and gave the city its own charm and character.”
Both students completed a research internship at the Leibniz Institute for Materials Engineering (IWT) and at Materialise GmbH, with a focus on 3D printing. Chirag Shah, a mechanical engineering student, is also full of praise: “Bremen is a wonderful city. I miss the greenery and calmness, the natural serenity that Bremen offered. The cold evening breeze and a wonderful German cuisine along the ‘Weser’ river promenade with friends is something that I miss here the most.”
The two students owed this opportunity to Dr Axel von Hehl. The head of the lightweight construction materials department at the IWT in Bremen holds a doctorate in metallurgy and specialises in 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM). In October 2016, he attended his first AM symposium at New York University and also gave some lectures there. The American audience was inspired by the close cooperation between science and industry in Germany, while Dr von Hehl was impressed by his audience’s interest and expertise.
This is where the idea for the student exchange was born. “We were already working on driving forward the internationalisation of the institute, so establishing an exchange programme was a logical step,” says von Hehl.
Two years later in July 2018, the two students exchanged the Big Apple for Bremen for two months. Von Hehl made sure there were some interesting tasks in store by bringing Materialise GmbH, a Bremen-based 3D printing specialist, on board. Together, they designed a research project for the two students to work on. The objective of the MarAging project was to find the ideal conditions for manufacturing a new type of steel in a 3D printer.
“Once they familiarised themselves with the industrial process at Materialise, they were able to successfully complete the task, and even managed to improve the properties of the stainless steel. A very successful collaboration for everyone involved,” says von Hehl.
The work in Bremen allowed Chirag Shah and Keyur Solanki to explore new territory – they had never worked with metal 3D printing before. They were also very taken with the research facilities: “My time at IWT was very exciting and rewarding. Germany has always been exceptional when it comes to engineering and it was evident at Materialise and IWT. Working at the hi-tech research facilities with the extraordinary brilliant minds is something that I will always remember for a lifetime,” says Shah. Solanki agrees: “The learning curve was steep and I returned to New York with a lot of knowledge on metal 3D printing and that in itself is a success story for me.”
Both students can imagine returning to Germany in the future, and to Bremen in particular. They were particularly impressed by the working conditions and the environment in the Hanseatic city.
“Getting acquainted with the new research environment was something not very difficult as the warmth and hospitality that I received here was exceptional. It was a professionally rewarding experience and something that I will cherish forever,” says Shah. His fellow student, Solanki, particularly remembers the valuable contacts he made both professionally and personally: “The city was very welcoming, the people were extremely cheerful and helpful. On some instances, people left their work to help us and this gesture really touched my heart.”
Von Hehl is delighted by such praise: “This is great for us to hear at the IWT – we know the specialists and we know how they work. The exchange programme is an excellent opportunity for us to raise awareness among talented young people of Bremen as a centre for research.”
This is another reason why von Hehl wants to continue the programme next year, ideally with a two-way exchange. Bremen’s 3D printing industry will once again be involved and will contribute research topics and a scholarship fund.
This particular cooperation between industry and science is unique. “Bremen is very much production-oriented when it comes to 3D printing. That is our USP, and that is what we are building on. Here at the IWT, we map the entire production chain: we manufacture the metal powders, print components, rework them and then test the results. No one else does that,” von Hehl explains.
“3D printing is a good option whenever it is important to manufacture a wide range of customised products in smaller quantities,” says von Hehl. Companies such as Materialise are banking on metal 3D printing becoming more commonplace in industry. Aircraft manufacturer Airbus already prints parts that reduce the weight of its planes.
The IWT is also involved in the EcoMaT Center for Ecoefficient Materials and Technologies, which is currently under construction. The institute will establish a testing facility for 3D printing here, the first of its kind in northern Germany. Maybe a new generation of students from New York will soon make the switch from the Big Apple to Bremen to work in it.
Experience Silicon Valley at first hand with Bremeninvest! Tim Ole Jöhnk, our man in Silicon Valley, is inviting representatives from the food and supply chain industries to join a delegation on a visit to Silicon Valley. More on this and other exciting stories in the September newsletter.
Will it soon be our robot colleague who greets us in the mornings? Robots will be helping us out at our desks in future, and this is already becoming a reality in Bremen.
Coworking, agile working, design thinking: what do these buzzwords mean? We put this question to expert Sven Hermann, who talks to us about the concept known as ‘New Work’ and what kind of companies might benefit from it.
Steel producer ArcelorMittal is employing a digital strategy that could also be of interest to SMEs – including when it comes to artificial intelligence.
Is this what the salesman of the future looks like? With "Pepper", the Bremen-based start-up Blackout Technologies develops unique software based on artificial intelligence throughout Europe.
Werder goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka owes his job to artificial intelligence. He was designed by the team of JUST ADD AI. Founder Roland Becker tells us how other medium-sized companies already benefit from AI today.
Artificial intelligence is regarded as an absolute growth topic - should every company jump on the bandwagon now? No, says Bastian Diedrich from the Bremen digital agency hmmh, but he makes an important restriction.
Artificial intelligence is becoming part of everyday life, and Bremen-based companies are leading the way. We have put together a ‘who’s who’ in artificial intelligence in Bremen.
Whether they involve flying around virtual spaces or manipulating reality, augmented and virtual reality open up new dimensions. A number of companies in Bremen are working on these technologies, and one of them is even the global leader in its market.
DIGILAB Brennerei 4.0 supports companies on their digitalisation journey with free and independent services. Getting started has never been easier.
Bremen’s IT sector is an important pillar of the local industry. We introduce ten IT service providers.
The state of Bremen covers 420 square kilometres and is home to around 670,000 people. Almost 22,000 companies provide more than 325,000 jobs. Below, we introduce some of the strong sectors that that make Bremen such an excellent business location.
The best of both worlds. A young Indian from Bremen is helping German engineering to benefit from India’s factory capacities and vice versa. And everything is completely digitalised – with one click in real time, an order can be sent straight to the Indian factory. The benefit for manufacturers is huge.
How is the role of media and other forms of communication changing in society? What are the resulting challenges? The international MA in Digital Media and Society, which launches at the University of Bremen in time for the winter semester, aims to provide the answers.
Airbus is a global trailblazer in the field of 3D printing, and the aerospace company has established a technology centre for this new production method in Bremen. This is one of many reasons why the Hanseatic city has become a hub for 3D printing in Europe.
The depths of the ocean remain one of the last great mysteries on Earth. What is the precise composition of the seafloor? What flora and fauna inhabit it? Where has the delicate balance of the ecosystem been seriously disrupted? We still don’t have complete answers to any of these questions, but four young scientists from Bremen are aiming to change that.
Even Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible would find it difficult to break into this data centre. Metre-thick concrete walls are just one of the many security measures protecting this bunker.
Unloading shipping containers requires manual work, which is pretty unusual in the automated and digitalised world of logistics. But a Bremen-based research project aims to change all this with its IRiS robot.
How will we be working in the future? Daimler’s Innolab in Bremen’s Überseestadt district provides an answer to this question. And anyone can come and see it.
In December 2014, ORTEC GmbH moved from Lower Saxony to Bremen. The software specialist hoped to strengthen its market position by moving to the city’s Überseestadt district. Around three and a half years later, we got in touch with the company again to ask whether the move has been a success.
You rarely get the opportunity to try out musical instruments when you buy them online. Bremen-based start-up TonePedia has developed a piece of software that allows musicians to properly compare guitars, bass guitars, amplifiers and effect products online. This saves time and reduces the number of returns and the associated cost.
Is this what sales assistants of the future will look like? Bremen start-up company Blackout Technologies develops software based on artificial intelligence, unlike any other software in Europe. Before long, we’ll be greeted by their robot Pepper in shops, at trade fairs or even in care homes. We visited Bremen’s robot lab to find out more.
The research alliance ROBEX is sending robots up active volcanoes and down into the deepest and darkest seas. Working across disciplines, the 120 scientists of the 16 institutes involved are breaking new ground on this project. They have been eagerly waiting to find out what has happened to the TRAMPER diving robot, which has been exploring the deep seas around Spitsbergen for a year. Now they are ready to bring it back.
A growing number of companies are becoming more aware of their social and environmental footprint, and are looking for ways to act with greater environmental and social responsibility. Germany’s north-west is set to become the national centre for social entrepreneurship in logistics. A new platform is under development and the first round of events is being planned to achieve this goal.
This new master’s degree at Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences prepares students for the future and offers them excellent job prospects.
BLG Logistics Group is a major player in logistics with 18,000 employees. It established the Digilab in Bremen as a core element of its digitalisation. The company’s premises are reminiscent of start-ups in Silicon Valley, and there are good reasons for that.
FabLab Bremen invites visitors to learn about new manufacturing technologies and try their hand at everything from laser cutters to printing and programming. Digital technology enthusiasts of all ages and programmers of all abilities are welcome here. And it is not long before they can put what they have learnt to good use.
A great deal of manual labour goes into aircraft construction. Despite this – or perhaps even because of it – Airbus is changing its approach to make increased use of digital technologies. It’s also researching the applications of new manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing. And not a moment too soon, as Airbus’ site manager in Bremen, Dr André Walter, explains in our interview.