Stefan, you already had a taste of working in the industry before you returned to research. What motivated you to do so?
For about eight years I worked as a Mechanical Design Engineer in the combustion department for gas turbines at Siemens AG. During three of these years, I was responsible for Mechanical Design in the simulation- and test-based development of combustion systems. In this context, I became familiar with additive manufacturing processes, especially Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF). This process has the potential to meet the demand for ever-shorter iteration cycles and also offers enormous design potential.
As part of my master’s thesis for my part-time studies in simulation and experimental technology in the spring of 2016, I dealt with the creation of design guidelines for additively manufactured gas turbine components. The objective was to harness the full potential of the manufacturing process and make it available to a wider audience.
After successfully developing a burner for the Siemens SGT6-9000HL gas turbine, I left the company to pursue my doctoral studies at the DAP Chair of the RWTH. This position was particularly appealing as it allowed me to further develop my leadership skills. Today, I lead a group of ten scientists and coordinate national and international research projects, as well as the acquisition of new publicly funded and industry-funded projects.
You have studied process, energy, and environmental technology and subsequently simulation and experimental technology. How can you apply this knowledge to your work in the field of additive manufacturing?
The topics on process engineering accompany me today, especially in projects in the field of (hydrogen) combustion. The combustion process of hydrogen differs considerably from the combustion of conventional fuels so that conventional combustion systems cannot simply be operated with hydrogen. To realize this, the characteristics of hydrogen combustion, such as thermodiffusive instabilities, must be further researched, so that adapted combustion systems can be developed. This is where additive manufacturing with its design freedoms comes into play. To design the additively manufactured components and predictively determine their durability, we use state-of-the-art simulation methods.