21. November 2018
WBA Aachener Werkzeugbau Akademie GmbH (WBA Tooling Academy Aachen) was founded in 2010 with the objective of covering all topic areas within the process chain of industrial tool making. By now, more than 80 businesses are involved in research and development projects. Find out more about WBA and its varied area of activity in our interview with Center Director Prof. Wolfgang Boos. 

WBA moved into the Production Engineering Cluster in 2017 – have you settled in well?

Since its founding in 2010, WBA has completed a large number of activities for the industrialization of the sector in collaboration with the tool making community. However, only after our move to the Production Engineering Cluster in early 2017, we were able to begin combining the unique world of tool making and prototype construction in one single building, which now allows us to reach our full potential. This new experience of demonstrating new technologies and products in their development phase allows WBA members and interested parties to discuss individual challenges in industrial tool making and to initiate new projects.

What is the purpose of the WBA Tooling Academy Aachen on RWTH Aachen Campus? What exactly are you offering your members?

WBA sees itself as a competence medium for the many and multi-faceted tasks in device and tool making on RWTH Aachen Campus. The unique method know-how for individual and small batch production makes WBA a great partner for any manufacturing company – specifically in the development and prototyping phase – as our holistic process chain and the extensive tool making machine pool at our disposal allows us to create prototypes of new products very quickly.

The members of the WBA community meet regularly and agree on a number of consortial products for trend scouting and for the benchmarking of latest tool making topics. Additionally, WBA offers tailor-made further education formats for young talents and management level individuals in the tool making sector. Whenever companies from the tool making sector have specific questions on their way to becoming an industrial player, these partners can rely on competent support from our industrial consulting experts, which is generally provided in a bilateral format. We follow our basic mission for all sector we serve – one-offs in series.

Your center allows competitors to jointly work on solutions – how is that possible?

WBA members agree on certain rules at the start of their collaboration, which make joint research within the community possible for competitors. Some impressive solutions have been created here, because it was more interesting for members to work together in the hope of a better result, than competitive thought processes, which still persist in some companies within the sector. WBA community members understand that the competition for the German tool making sector is located primarily in Eastern Europe and Asia and that their common objective must be to systematically reinforce the location Germany. 

Aside from consortial research – what else does WBA offer? And who is that offering aimed at?

The business areas Industrial Consulting and Further Education are our other main focus at WBA. Our business area Software Development and specifically App Development is an entirely new field that allows RWTH students from the Information Technology faculty to become involved in tool making. A large number of app solutions for tool making have to date been programmed at WBA and have been successfully implemented at various tool making companies.

How has the tool making sector changed since the inception of WBA in 2010? What have been the influences of digitalization and Industrie 4.0?

The fundamental change towards industrial tool making remains the central theme of the sector. This change is supported by the possibilities offered by digitalization and networking in the wake of Industrie 4.0. They allow the implementation of intelligent tools and the self-optimizing manufacture of tool components, which creates a sustainable competitive advantage. Developments in the wake of the additive production and 3D printing of components or tools are generally regarded with some reservations in the sector. However, analyzes in the WBA community have shown that this procedure is actually regarded as a meaningful process support measure, rather than a substitution hazard or potential threat.

What role does tool making play internationally?

Right now, tool making is growing in importance in many countries. Worth mentioning here – aside from Asia and specifically China – are some countries in South-East Europe like Turkey and some countries in North and Central America like Mexico, which are in need of tool making businesses that can support the globalization activities of manufacturing companies locally.

How do you see the future of tool making? Where is WBA headed?

WBA wants to accompany the tool making sector on the long road towards industrialization and offer the best possible support with a wide range of offers from our service portfolio. The objective of all our activities is to assist in the development of tool making into a unique enabler for product development and series production.
For more information about the WBA Tooling Academy Aachen please visit: https://werkzeugbau-akademie.de/