Machine tool laboratory WZL of the RWTH Aachen

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Machine tool laboratory WZL of the RWTH Aachen
founding 1906
place Aachen , GermanyGermanyGermany 
director Thomas Bergs
Employee about 850

The machine tool laboratory WZL of the RWTH Aachen (short form: WZL ) is a research institute consisting of four chairs in the engineering discipline of mechanical engineering in the field of teaching and research for production technology . Thanks to the cooperation between the chairs for

  • Production metrology and quality management,
  • Production system,
  • Manufacturing process technology,
  • Machine tools

all key issues in the field of production technology are covered under one roof. The WZL with around 850 employees is jointly managed by the owners of the four above-mentioned chairs. The management changes every three years. Thomas Bergs is the managing director.

The WZL maintains partnerships and cooperations with international industrial companies. Companies such as Bosch , Audi , Daimler , Sandvik , Schuler , Feintool and Voestalpine are linked in working groups. The WZL has produced well-known start-ups such as the electric vehicle manufacturers Streetscooter and e.GO Mobile .


The machine tool laboratory traces its existence back to the appointment of Privy Councilor Adolf Wallichs to the chair for machine tools and industrial engineering at the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule in 1906. In 1936 Herwart Opitz took over the management of the chair and the associated institute. With the introduction of the National Socialist four-year plan in the same year, the direction of work at the WZL was set for the next few years, since teaching and research now had to serve military armament and war preparation . In 1938, by significantly expanding the laboratory, Opitz created the prerequisites for expanding research activities to include modern problems in machine tool construction and production technology. Under his leadership, the WZL developed into one of the most modern and important research facilities of its kind.

After the war, Opitz began rebuilding the almost completely destroyed institute. After its conclusion, the 1st Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium (AWK) was held in 1948 under the most adverse external circumstances. The economic upswing that began in the second half of the 1950s made it possible to intensify research activities and increase the number of employees significantly.

In 1973, due to the increasing importance of production technology in research and teaching, the tasks of the chair for machine tools and industrial engineering were divided between the three chairs of production systematics, technology of manufacturing processes and machine tools. An additional focus was set by setting up the measurement technology department for automated production, with Tilo Pfeifer becoming the head. Before his retirement, Opitz handed over the management of the institute to Walter Eversheim , Wilfried König and Manfred Weck after a 37-year term in office .

On the initiative of the management of the WZL, the Fraunhofer Society for the Promotion of Applied Research eV founded the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT in 1980 with the support of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia . The four professors of the WZL form the directorate of the Fraunhofer IPT.

In 1988, the measurement technology department for automated production became Germany's first chair for production measurement technology and quality assurance. Tilo Pfeifer was appointed to the new chair, also as head of the department.

In 1992, the Aachen Demonstration Laboratory for Integrated Production Technology (ADITEC) was founded on the initiative of the WZL. The aim of ADITEC is to use the know-how available in the WZL for practice-oriented training and further education.

On April 1st, 2008 the chair for assembly technology started its work at the RWTH Aachen . The new chair was headed by Rainer Müller and supported by the machine tool laboratory.

In November 2010, the WZL hosted the 3rd European Conference on Grinding , where new and further developments in the field of grinding technology were presented and perspectives and potentials of the industry were shown.

Since 2013, the WZL has been involved in the RWTH Aachen Institute in the so-called ramp-up factory , which, among other things, drives the production process for the series production of electric vehicles in cooperation with the university's electromobility laboratory.

On the night of February 5, 2016, the large test hall of the WZL burned down and collapsed. According to estimates, the damage amounts to around 100 million euros, of which 30 million euros are attributable to the building, 60 million euros to the procurement of the machine tools housed in the hall and 10 million euros to transitional measures. The institute's server infrastructure was also destroyed. By mid-March 2016, fire investigators from the police were unable to find the cause of the fire, as the destruction was too great.


Chair for production metrology and quality management

The Chair for Production Metrology and Quality Management conducts research and teaching in the following core areas: Development and optimization of measurement processes and devices, production-integrated measurement technology and machine-oriented quality control loops, quality management systems , knowledge , innovation and improvement management as well as methods and computer support for quality management. The chair is currently held by Robert Schmitt.

The research area works and researches the industrialization of operational processes in production technology. Industrialization means the collection of relevant and objective data and their return and utilization in the operational context of control loops . Measurement technology solves the first task, while quality management takes care of creating suitable structures. The aim is to create capable processes with predictable results in a defined period of time in the departments of model-based systems, organizational development and product management .

One focus is the Aachen quality management model , a framework for all quality-oriented activities of a company developed at the chair for production metrology and quality management in the machine tool laboratory.

Chair for Production Systematics

The chair for production systematics conducts research and teaching in the areas of product and production planning . These include core topics such as integrated product and process design, cooperative value creation , company modeling , factory planning , order processing and system selection. The current chair is Günther Schuh .

The research area combines engineering and business research, which is passed on and deepened in projects to support manufacturing companies. This includes the departments of innovation management (a. Complexity management ), factory planning (global production, production  logistics ...), production management (design, planning, control) and corporate development (market intelligence, digitization , toolmaking ).

Chair of Manufacturing Process Technology

The Chair for Technology of Manufacturing Processes conducts research and teaching in the area of ​​basics of manufacturing processes , process studies of the individual manufacturing processes , process monitoring , process simulation , environmentally friendly technologies and Industry 4.0 . The chair is divided into the departments of machining technology , grinding and forming , abrasive manufacturing processes and gear technology. The chair holder was Fritz Klocke until May 2018 . Thomas Bergs is his successor .

Working group grinding technology AKS

The Working Group Grinding Technology (AKS) of the Chair for Technology of Manufacturing Processes is an association of experts in the field of grinding technology as well as companies from the fields of grain and grinding wheel manufacture, grinding machine manufacture, cooling lubricant manufacture, the automotive and supplier industry, and the energy and aviation industry. The aim is to systematically address technological, economic and strategic issues of manufacturing companies in the field of grinding technology.

AKF fineblanking working group

The Fineblanking Working Group (AKF) within the Chair for Manufacturing Process Technology is an association of experts in the field of fineblanking technology and companies from the fields of tool technology, lubricant technology, materials technology and systems engineering. The organization and processing of the research projects takes place in cooperation with the WZL of the RWTH Aachen. According to their own statements, participating companies should be enabled to integrate current and future trends into their research activities and to implement the latest findings in their own operations.

Technology Working Group (TAK)

The Technology Working Group (TAK) of the Chair for Technology of Manufacturing Processes is an association of experts in the field of geometrically determined machining as well as companies from the automotive, aerospace, turbine, power generation, tool and coating and machine tool manufacturing sectors. The member companies see the TAK as a research tool for the continuous expansion and further development of their technology base. The practice-oriented research should allow a company-specific implementation of the results in the form of improved technologies, processes and products.

Industrial IOTA Lab Aachen IILA

The Industrial IOTA Lab Aachen (IILA) was founded in April 2018 at the Chair of Manufacturing Technology. IILA is a non-profit laboratory that offers students, lecturers, industry representatives and enthusiasts research and exchange in the fields of artificial intelligence , machine economy , machine-to-machine communication , distributive ledger technologies and Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) . The team consists of PhD students, technicians, graduate students and student assistants from the WZL and is informally supported by the AKF Fineblanking Working Group.

Chair of machine tools

Research and teaching in the Department of machine tools include the calculation and optimization of machine tools and handling systems and their components, the metrological inspection and evaluation of production systems that drive technology , NC , RC and PLC controls , process monitoring and machine diagnostics, human-machine -Interaction , control technology and automation . In addition, there are gear technology and gear cutting machines. The chair is currently held by Christian Brecher .

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK

The first Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium (AWK) took place in June 1948. Under the impression of the Allied requirements after the end of the war and before the start of the economic miracle in Germany, Herwart Opitz had the idea of ​​an annual colloquium on the subject of machine tool construction. Around 100 people attended the premiere, including employees from Opitz, colleagues from other technical universities and from industry. One year later, on July 26, 1949, the 2nd AWK on the subject of "The development of machine tool construction abroad" was organized at the suggestion of the industry. Particular attention was paid to the leading countries at the time, the USA and Switzerland . Since then, the AWK has been a bridge between research and practice and has developed into a permanent institution over time. The annual cycle was not retained in order not to overlap with the conferences in Munich and Stuttgart. The AWK has taken place every three years in Aachen since 1965, and in the Aachen Eurogress since 1984 . Over 1000 representatives from politics, business and science take part. In addition to expert presentations, current perspectives from business and science are constantly being supplemented by plenary presentations.


The WZLforum, formerly Aditec GmbH, the machine tool laboratory WZL of RWTH Aachen University and the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT is a provider of production engineering and related advanced training programs. The programs are aimed at specialists and managers who want to acquire implementation-oriented know-how on the basis of scientifically sound knowledge.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Staff at the WZL
  2. a b c d e f Germany's elite institute. WZL, RWTH Aachen, Aachen, 2005
  3. Dissertation Between Science and Industry. Mechanisms of knowledge and technology transfer at the Aachen machine tool laboratory from 1906 to 2006 by Cornelia Kompe, presented in 2009 at the Philosophical Faculty of RWTH Aachen University, p. 90. Retrieved on March 12, 2015.
  4. 3rd European Conference of Grinding , press release of the industrial portal Maschinenmarkt from August 30, 2010
  5. Anlauffabrik ( Memento of the original from May 8, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. ↑ Major fire: TH laboratory on the Melaten campus collapsed. In: Aachener Nachrichten. Retrieved February 5, 2016 .
  7. Foundation is to finance the second WZL hall. In: Retrieved March 29, 2016 .
  8. Robert Esser: Big fire on campus: Many open questions. In: Aachener Zeitung. Retrieved February 5, 2016 .
  9. ↑ A major fire in Aachen remains unexplained - Rhineland - News - WDR. In: Retrieved April 6, 2016 .
  10. Chair for Production Metrology and Quality Management
  11. Chair for Production Systematics
  12. Chair for Technology of Manufacturing Processes
  13. ↑ Grinding Technology Working Group (AKS)
  14. Fineblanking Working Group (AKF)
  15. Technology working group TAK - - WZL Aachen GmbH. Retrieved January 29, 2019 .
  16. Industrial IOTA Lab Aachen (IILA)
  17. Chair for machine tools
  18. Walter Eversheim, Tilo Pfeifer, Manfred Weck: 100 years of production technology: Machine tool laboratory WZL at RWTH Aachen University from 1906 to 2006. Springer, 2006, ISBN 978-3-540-33315-9 .

Coordinates: 50 ° 47 '2 "  N , 6 ° 2' 51.4"  E