Let’s talk ... interview with a member of Cleaning Business Area of Fraunhofer

© Fraunhofer IWS

In our interview series in each newsletter, we introduce you to a member of the Fraunhofer-Business Area Cleaning in more detail. This time Volker Franke from the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS answered our questions. Read more about his career and his personal perspective on the goals, potential and wishes for the Fraunhofer-Business Area Cleaning. 


1.     How did you join Fraunhofer-Business Area Cleaning?

I am now working in the workgroup for laser micro material processing for more than two decades where lasers are utilized as ablating tools for a wide spectrum of applications. Removing contaminations or thin films from components has been a task coming up frequently. More than 20 years ago the focus of research was on laser cleaning for restoration in arts and cultural heritage. Since then the technique has also been established in industrial applications. Seven years ago I took over the responsibility for the work group as well as for the representation of the laser cleaning within the Fraunhofer-Business Area Cleaning.


2.     What goal have you set yourself for your work at Fraunhofer-Business Area Cleaning?

I would like to pique the curiosity of users with cleaning tasks and would like to raise attention for the laser as a cleaning tool with specific characteristics and potentials. My goal is to disprove the prejudice that laser cleaning per se is an expensive process. I would rather show many potential users where and how the technology can be utilized advantageous.


3.     What would you like to pass on to the customers of Fraunhofer-Business Area Cleaning?

First, I would like to pass on to the customers the understanding of a modern cleaning technique that allows them to make their production processes more efficient and better. Utilizing the laser as a cleaning tool should be considered especially when it is not necessary or not acceptable to clean the complete component but only defined functional areas. The fact that the laser process is not requiring further consumables like cleaning agents dramatically reduces efforts and costs for the disposal of wastes. Considering the growing awareness for environment protection and sustainability this fact is significant.


4.     What does the Fraunhofer IWS offer in cleaning technology?

The Fraunhofer IWS understands itself as the competent partner in the field of laser based cleaning of components. Starting from technological consulting and process development we will accompany our customers until the process is running in their production line. Our comprehensive technical equipment with various laser beam sources and processing systems allows us to adopt to a wide range of contaminations and substrate materials. Beside the process itself, also aspects like process monitoring and quality control are essential. Thus, we also provide the customers with tailored solutions based on optical metrology using Hyper Spectral Imaging (HSI).


5.     What makes you a competent partner in cleaning technology?

I can look back on more than 20 years of practical experience in laser based cleaning and coating removal. Within this time the technology advanced and matured significantly. Additionally I can trust on a well-experienced team adding know-how and competences in providing application specific systems as well as monitoring of processes and results. In cooperation with customers from various industries, we were able to develop and optimize this cleaning technology individually.


6.     What do you wish for the industry?

I hope that cleaning processes are gaining higher appreciation as a value adding essential step in the manufacturing process instead of being regarded as a “necessary evil”. The field of industrial cleaning, being typically conservative, should be more open and curios for new routes and methods beside the common way as it has always been done.