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John O | February 2018

Climate chamber allows for environmental testing in the lab

by josh perry, editor


the fraunhofer institute for machine tools and forming technology iwu has developed a new climate chamber that allows for the testing of machines in different environmental conditions prior to shipping, giving the manufacturers a better understanding of how those machines will react to different temperature or humidity levels.


thanks to the removable ceiling, entire machine tools can be lifted into the climate chamber via crane. (fraunhofer iwu)


according to a report from the institute, many of the machines are affected by thermal conditions, which can impact overall performance as well as longevity.


“most companies have manufacturing facilities situated around the world,” the article noted, “often in environments without air conditioning. the result is machinery imprecision and product rejections.”


“exposure to sunlight and drafts causes thermal interactions in the form of structural stretching, which we are able to reproduce in the environmental chamber. the aim is to stabilize and enhance machine precision directly via a machine control system by correcting thermally-induced errors during operation,” explains dr. janine glänzel, research scientist at fraunhofer iwu. 


fraunhofer researchers added ventilation components, steam humidifier, and air absorption dryer to the thermal chamber to cover a wider range of conditions. the chamber allows for testing temperature ranges from 10-40°c with a tolerance of plus or minus 0.1°k and air humidity of 10-90% with a tolerance of three percent.


“before initiating measurement, the researchers perform a simulation-based analysis to determine where best to place temperature and displacement sensors,” the article said. “the scientists adhere the temperature sensors directly to the machine, while the displacement sensors are mounted onto a measuring frame set up around the machine tool and linked via small rods to measuring blocks at neuralgic points.”


if there are displacements, the engineers can implement corrective algorithms using the tool center point to optimize production.


“additionally, the researchers determine the level of heat dissipation from the machine tools before transferring it to the cooling system to save energy,” the article concluded. 

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