Exhibits trade fair K 2022

Hall 7 / SC01

Circular economy

The demonstrator "reusable transport box" combines the potential of circular plastic compounds with innovative manufacturing processes for component production.
The demonstrator "reusable transport box" combines the potential of circular plastic compounds with innovative manufacturing processes for component production.

From innovative monomaterial to R-strategy: reusable transport packaging in the Circular Economy

The circular economy of plastics concerns their entire life cycle: an end-to-end conceptualization from product design, material selection and additive, circular business model, traceability, appropriate R-strategies to added value for customers and distributors. Using a reusable transport packaging for B2C food shipping, the Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Circular Plastics Economy CCPE will show its research results and demonstrate solution approaches for circular products.

In addition to the innovative monomaterial approach from newly developed bio-based polylactide (PLA) particle foams, systems for traceability through integrated sensor technology and an associated digital twin will be presented. The collected data adds value for the customer, e.g. to prove an unbroken cold chain, and it enables pooling system operators to perform valuable analyses for logistics and business model optimization as well as an adaquate R-strategy - based on aging effects of the plastics.

The reusable transport box shown is modularly designed to implement individual solution concepts, depending on market requirements. For example, food deliveries can contain refrigerated as well as non-refrigerated products. Due to the modular design of the box system, these can already be separated from each other during commissioning. This separation reduces the overall energy demand, as the goods that do not need to be refrigerated are neither refrigerated nor monitored by sensors. With this demonstrator, Fraunhofer CCPE shows how a circular product can be made fit for many value creation cycles, on display in hall 7/booth SC01-3.

Hartmut Pflaum  

Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Circular Plastics Economy CCPE

scPLA-fiber based monomaterial composite (Organosheet)
© Fraunhofer IAP
scPLA-fiber based monomaterial composite (Organosheet).
scPLA multifilament yarn
© Fraunhofer IAP
scPLA multifilament yarn

Innovative scPLA fiber-based monomaterial composites

An increasing industry demand for sustainable alternatives to conventional petroleum-based products motivates the high value of innovative bio-based yet high-performance materials. One promising candidate in this regard is polylactic acid (PLA), a bio-based polyester that is commercially available and can be processed into fibers, films, or injection mol-ded parts through thermoplastic processing. Targeted stereocomplexa-tion also allows the melting temperature to be increased by up to 60 K to 230 °C, effectively improving thermal properties of PLA-based products.

Based on the thermally resistant stereocomplex (sc)PLA filament yarns, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institutes IAP and ICT are developing in-novative PLA-based single-component organic sheets that address technical applications and can contribute to the implementation of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, particularly with regard to recyclability. Current developments in this area are taking place within the frame-work of the Fraunhofer Circular Plastics Economy CCPE® cluster. These focus on optimizing the mechanical performance of the composite material. A preferably attractive tensile and ductility property profile is to contribute purposefully to establishing new application areas for PLA-based products. The Fraunhofer Cluster CCPE booth will feature exhibits of scPLA fila-ment yarns as well as innovative PLA-based monomaterial composites in the form of organosheets, which are being developed in cooperation between the Fraunhofer Institutes IAP and ICT as part of the Fraunhofer Cluster Circular Plastics Economy CCPE®.

Dr. André Lehmann
Dr. Rainer Rihm  

Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP

Mass-producible, sustainable sandwich structures (here as bonded panels).
© Fraunhofer ICT
Mass-producible, sustainable sandwich structures (here as bonded panels). The mate-rial can also be shaped (see fig. 2).
A thermally shaped PET sandwich
© Fraunhofer ICT
A thermally shaped PET sandwich comprising a combination of different morphologies from the same base polymer. In addition to meeting high technical requirements, the aim of this type of lightweight construction is to enable resource-efficient recycling at end of life and allow the material to be easily processed for new applications.

Sustainable sandwich construction

For the important question: "How can all plastic waste be sustainably managed in a circular fashion?” the monomaterial sandwich system, in which different morpholo-gies of one and the same base polymer are combined, plays a special role. The tra-ditional, and usually very time-consuming, separation of fiber composites from dif-ferent materials is no longer necessary. The composite can be recycled and repro-cessed in a resource-efficient manner at the end of its life. The uniform base material is not immediately recognizable: The top layers, for example, have highly stretched polymer filaments as reinforcing fibers. A second polymer filament of the same base polymer, which has a lower melting temperature due to modifications, serves here as an embedding matrix. Both filament types are mixed and woven into a semi-finished textile product.

In the next process step, this textile is consolidated into a monolithic sheet in a vacuum-based process. The sandwich core is formed by a particle or extrusion foam of the same material. A fusion joining process bonds the face sheets to the core, resulting in sandwich structures with very high potential for lightweight constructions and made from just one material. The monomaterial sandwich system is characterized by high specific bending properties, high energy absorption, the possibility of thermal forming and, last but not least, promising recy-cling potential. This offers potential applications in the transportation sector, such as with exterior walls for truck trailers or motor homes, in the sporting sector with protective gear or even the private transport sector with interior constructions.

Dr. Kevin Moser
Jan Diemert

Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT

Fully bio-based PLA composites with long-term durability.
© Fraunhofer IFAM
Developed in the "BestBioPLA" project: Fully bio-based PLA composites with long-term durability.

Balancing act between durability and biodegradability – Bio-based PLA composites with longterm durability: Project "BestBioPLA"

Fraunhofer IFAM and its research partners at the Universidade Federal da Paraíba in Brazil are developing new plastics which combine good mechanical and chemical resistance during the product life with biodegradability at the end of the product life.

Natural fiber-reinforced plastics are already used in automotive construction, albeit mostly with a petroleum-based plastic matrix. This enables lightweight construction, but at the same time offers optimization potential in terms of resource utilization and recycling. A novel crosslinked polymer system based on polylactic acid has now been developed at Fraunhofer IFAM. This basic structure was optimized so that curing conditions and temperature resistance of the material can be adapted. In addition, manufacturing concepts were developed to combine the new plastic with natural fibers and to process it into high-quality fiber composite components using industry-oriented manufacturing processes. The project partner INVENT GmbH provided support in the production and validation of the systems. Initially, the processes were established with flax fibers native to Europe, then they were transferred to sisal fibers from Brazilian cultivation. The aim was to produce the materials from regional resources in order to avoid costly transport routes. The project involved a close exchange with the project partners in Brazil, who were concerned with the conditions of biodegradability of the materials.

Katharina Koschek  

Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM

From fruit pomace to functional polymers.
© Fraunhofer IWKS
From fruit pomace to functional polymers.

From plant residues to biopolymers

The extraction of plant polymers (cellulose, starch, algal polymers) provides polymer products for the mass market (binders, thickeners, dispersants, etc.). Hemicelluloses, whose share of the plant mass can be of the same order of magnitude as cellulose, have so far hardly been used for polymer production.

For ten years, the IWKS has been successfully researching the availability of biogenic raw material sources for the sustainable production of functional materials. In the Innovation Space Bioeconomy in Metropolitan Areas (BioBall), the Fraunhofer IWKS facility is using BMBF funding to develop processes for the resource-conserving extraction of hemicelluloses from residual material streams.

Plain water is used at extraction temperatures above 100 °C and elevated pressure to extract hemicelluloses, aromatic compounds and proteins from biomass. For apple pomace, hot water extraction conditions can be controlled so that subsequent precipitation with alcohol is sufficient to achieve a hemicellulose product with the purity of chemical pulp. By controlled reduction of the molecule size, basic bodies are produced from it that can be used as substitutes for petroleum-based binders in paints and coatings. With the aid of chemical functionalization processes that can be implemented on a large scale, the solubility properties of the hemicelluloses are adapted and applications as adhesion promoters in biocomposites are developed.

Gert Homm

Fraunhofer Research Institution for Materials Recycling and Resource Strategies IWKS

Small load carrier (KLT) injection molded
© Fraunhofer WKI / Federico Böhm
Small load carrier (KLT) injection molded from a compound of polypropylene (PP) rein-forced with recycled PET fibers. All three KLTs have rPET fibers, with the white KLT (top) being virgin PP and the two KLTs (bottom) being from two recycled polypropyle-ne KLT material streams.

Small load carriers made from recycled PP with rPET-fiber-reinforcement

In order to optimize the logistics chain between automobile manufacturers, suppliers and service providers, a small load carrier system (KLT system) is used in the industry. The small load carrier represents a standardized, pool-capable system that can be handled mechanically and manually and is suitable for the automatic filling, emptying and transport of goods.

The KLT generation used so far is made of the plastic polypropylene (PP). In this generation, PP continues to be used as the base polymer, but part of the polypropylene is replaced by polymer fibers.

Together with an industrial partner, the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut, WKI has injection molded transport containers that have higher stiffness with improved impact strength compared to existing transport containers. To achieve these results, the low-melting PP already used was combined with higher-melting polyethylene terephthalate fibers (PET fibers) as fiber reinforcement to form a composite plastic. To close the material cycle during production, discarded transport containers were used in combination with recycled PET fibers. The proportion of PET fibers leads to weight and material savings through wall thickness reduction. This can result in an improved eco-balance of the reusable container in the ever-growing logistics industry. The PET fiber-reinforced PP shows potential to be used in other industries as well.

Carsten Asshoff
Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut WKI  

"TableSort" is a miniature version of a bulk sorting system that can be used to de-monstrate the sorting of goods on a small scale. It serves as an example of a smart factory plant.
© Fraunhofer IOSB / M. Zentsch
"TableSort" is a miniature version of a bulk sorting system that can be used to de-monstrate the sorting of goods on a small scale. It serves as an example of a smart factory plant.

TableSort - bulk material sorting system

In today's established waste management, thermal recycling predominates and the carbons contained in the waste are released into the atmosphere as climate-damaging CO2. The transition to a circular economy aims to limit these emissions and avoid the excessive consumption of resources.

Seven institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are pooling their expertise in the "Waste4Future" lighthouse project, with the particular aim of increasing energy and resource efficiency in the use of plastics. In the lighthouse project, new possibilities are being created for recycling, from which high-quality starting materials are produced. The resulting solutions should make it possible to recycle the carbon contained in plastics. Instead of contributing to global warming in the form of CO2 or polluting the environment as plastic waste, it will be available as a "green" resource for the chemical industry.

The plan is to develop a holistic, entropy-based assessment model that reorganizes the recycling chain, which has been process-led to date, into a material-led chain. A new type of guided sorting recognizes which materials and in particular which plastic fractions are contained in the waste. In line with this, a decision is then made as to which recycling route is the most technically, ecologically and economically sensible for this specific waste quantity. "Waste4Future" thus paves the way for a carbon circular economy in which valuable new basic molecules are extracted from plastic waste and emissions are largely avoided: Today's waste becomes tomorrow's resource, thus simultaneously reducing industry's dependence on imported primary carbon resources such as oil and natural gas.

Katharina Hendrich  

Fraunhofer lighthouse project "Waste4Future"

Climate protection

Polymers are produced from renewable raw materials such as straw.
© Fraunhofer IGB
Polymers are produced from renewable raw materials such as straw.
Protects the grafted tree and decomposes over time.
© Fraunhofer IGB
Protects the grafted tree and decomposes over time.

Sustainable plastics solutions

The Laboratory for Technical Biopolymers (LTBP) at Fraunhofer IGB in Straubing develops plastics for a sustainable future. It covers the entire process chain from the synthesis of biobased monomers and additives in the laboratory, through polymerizations in a miniplant, to plastics processing on a small scale.

In addition to the functional properties of the materials, issues relating to recyclability or biodegradability are also taken into account with a view to cycle-oriented value creation. The concept of LTBP can be well demonstrated by the utilization of residual materials from pulp production.

These residual material streams, which are produced in large quantities, contain, among other things, the monoterpene (+)-3-carene, from which the Straubing researchers were able to produce new, 100 percent biobased polyamides (Caramid-R®, Caramid-S®) with outstanding properties. Unlike commercial biobased polyamides, Caramid-R® and Caramid-S® can be prepared by anionic ring-opening polymerization and are therefore suitable for the production of cast polyamides. In addition, new biobased plasticizers for various plastics could be synthesized from further cellulose production residues.

The polymer polyethylene furanoate (PEF) is considered a biobased alternative to PET due to its properties. PEF is produced from 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), a platform chemical for which researchers have developed an efficient purification process – a prerequisite for the production of PEF fibers.

Dr. Robert Scherf  

Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB

Lightweight and safe: e-bike battery housing with organic sheet inlays, developed at Fraunhofer LBF.
© Ansmann AG
Lightweight and safe: e-bike battery housing with organic sheet inlays, developed at Fraunhofer LBF.

Lightweight and sustainable – Lightweight construction with natural fibre-reinforced plastics used for Li-ion battery housings

Fraunhofer LBF and Ansmann AG have development a Li-ion battery housing of natural fibre-reinforced plastics. Due to their low density, good mechanical properties, low tendency to splinter and the comparatively low costs, while at the same time increasing sustainability, such natural fibre reinforced plastics were convincing as an alternative to glass or carbon fibre reinforcement.

The housing produced using an innovative injection molding process achieved a weight reduction of 30 percent, while at the same time increasing rigidity by 15 percent. All required standards are met.

Anita Werner
Kerstin Faustino  

Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF


© Fraunhofer ILT

Hybrid polymer metall multichamber reflector for automotive applications

The trend towards lightweight construction and increased functionality also leads to the need to the combination of different materials in lighting applications. The requirements of LED technology can be met by combining metallic die-cast components with good thermal conductivity and the high surface quality of injection molded components. In the project "Form-LIGHT", Fraunhofer ILT was concerned with the development of a micro-moldable plastic/light metal hybrid material composite for a Class A surface.

For this purpose, on the one hand the low thermal expansion and high strength of the light metals are used, which minimize the distortion of the hybrid material, and on the other hand the high thermal conductivity can be used to dissipate heat from electrical components that are in contact with the component. With the aid of the molded-on thermoplastics, which are preferably unfilled, the low surface qualities and imaging accuracies are compensated for and the corrosion-resistant light metals are additionally protected. The aim of the joint project is to develop a hybrid amorphous thermoplastic-light metal material composite.

The joining technique used is quasi-full-surface microscale laser structuring on the light metal component. The composite material is produced by back-injecting the structured metallic surface. This high-strength and thermal shock-resistant material composite, which has also been optimized for media tightness, allows functional, load-bearing components with decorative, covering components to be realized from a single component, thus significantly reducing installation space and weight as well as logistics and assembly costs by shortening process times.

Maximilian Brosda  

Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT

Demontrator parts produced using the new TS Moulding technology
© Fraunhofer IMWS
Demontrator parts produced using the new TS Moulding technology.

TS -Moulding: Thermoplastic-Sandwich-Automotive Component (Battery housing cover demonstrator for Battery Electric Cars produced by TS-Moulding technology)

Sandwich composites made from continuous-fibre-reinforced face sheets and thermoplastic honeycomb core allow for maximum lightweight construction performance and minimal material usage in the production of large area structural parts. The TS-Moulding process developed and patented by the Fraunhofer Institute IMWS facilitates the production of complex-shaped continuous-fibre-reinforced sandwich structures. In combination with thermoplastic injection moulding or extrusion these can then in turn be processed into ready-to-use large area structural parts. By combining these processes, fibre composite lightweight construction parts with thermoplastic matrix polymers can be produced in high volume and can thus also be made available to the air and space industry.

The new process opens up new possibilities to efficiently use construction materials by reducing weight and material usage and assuring the future availability of construction materials. Using TS-Moulding, sandwich parts can be produced from a single fibre composite material. Furthermore, cutting scraps are integrated into the production process without additional material input. This avoids process waste and single-type manufactured components can be optimally recycled at the end of their life span. Potential fields of application for the TS-Moulding technology include the automotive and aerospace as well as the construction industry.

Peggy Naumann  

Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS

© Fraunhofer IOF
The miniaturized wide-angle 3D camera is mounted on the underside of the rearview mirror.
© Fraunhofer IOF
Close-up of the miniaturized wide-angle 3D camera on the underside of a rear-view mirror.

Miniaturized Time-Of-Flight Camera System for Automotive Applications

In vehicles, plastic optics are currently used and will be used in the future for head-up displays, LIDAR systems, camera and lighting optics. Fraunhofer IOF presents a miniaturized 3D camera for various applications in vehicle interiors (joint project MinTOFKA). The novel imaging principle is based on the combination of a multi-aperture lens with a ToF sensor (640x480 pixels, VCSEL 850 nm).

A hybrid optics concept consisting of two channels was chosen to scan the extended, horizontal field of view of 110° with high spatial resolution, while simultaneously reducing the installation space (z < 15 mm). By means of adapted image processing, the depth profile of the entire object field can then be reconstructed. In addition, coated WLO components are shown as examples.

Nancy Gratzke
Katja Szafranski  

Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF

A plasma jet installed on an FDM 3D printer for the sequential treatment of a 3D print.
© Fraunhofer IST
A plasma jet installed on an FDM 3D printer for the sequential treatment of a 3D print.
Prototype of a ring-shaped atmospheric pressure plasma source for the parallel treat-ment of a 3D print.
© Fraunhofer IST
Prototype of a ring-shaped atmospheric pressure plasma source for the parallel treat-ment of a 3D print.

Extrusion-based 3D printer with integrated atmospheric pressure plasma source for modifying surface properties

Mechanically stable components of high quality from a 3D printer: One crucial prerequisite for this is good adhesion between the individual polymer layers. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST are achieving this by combining extrusion-based 3D printing with atmospheric-pressure plasmas.

The plasma treatment allows a targeted chemical modification of the printed surfaces and, consequently, an improvement of the adhesion forces. As a result of the enhanced interlaminar adhesion between the polymer layers, the tensile strength of the printed component perpendicular to the printing plane is increased. In addition, combinations of different polymers become possible - without the need for complex positive locking. Furthermore, the integrated plasma treatment facilitates subsequent processing steps, such as bonding or painting, and also enables the modification of internal surfaces of the printed component which are inaccessible at a later stage.

In order to be able to utilize atmospheric-pressure plasma sources in 3D printing, the sources must be miniaturized and adapted to the desired requirements. At the Fraunhofer IST, two approaches are being pursued for this purpose: In one case, sequential plasma treatment of selected areas of the printed component is performed, whilst in the second case, plasma treatment takes place in parallel with the printing process - with no additional time required.

Michael Thomas
Thomas Neubert

Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST

Digital transformation

Cobot-assisted terahertz measuring device for coating thickness measurement on plastic and metal.
© Fraunhofer ITWM
Cobot-assisted terahertz measuring device for coating thickness measurement on plastic and metal.
Four-channel terahertz measuring device for wall thickness measurement of plastic pipes
© Fraunhofer ITWM
Four-channel terahertz measuring device for wall thickness measurement of plastic pipes.

Paint thickness measurement on plastic

Measuring coating thicknesses, e. g. of paintwork in the automotive industry, is an important part of quality control. Terahertz measurement technology performs well here, especially in the non-contact coating thickness measurement of multi-layer coatings. The new cobot-based inspection system from the Fraunhofer Insti-tute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM is suitable for both inline inspection and automated laboratory inspection.

With the terahertz layer thickness gauge, it is possible to measure layer thicknesses within a multilayer system on plastic in a non-contact and non-destructive manner. Most coating thickness measurement systems available on the market require a me-tallic substrate and can therefore not be used here. The few coating thickness meas-uring systems that can measure on plastic only record the total thicknesses. Since each individual layer has a special functionality, the thickness of each layer must be recorded individually. Currently, only terahertz measurement technology can do this on plastics.

A short-pulse terahertz system is used for layer thickness measurement. Similarly to ultrasonic measurement, short terahertz light pulses are sent to the sample, the difference here being that the terahertz measurements do not require a coupling medium and therefore work in a non-contact manner. A portion of the light is reflected at each interface. The reflected signals are registered by the terahertz receiver in a time-resolved manner. These time-resolved echo signals contain the depth information of the sample, from which the layer thicknesses can be determined.


Esther Packullat
Steffen Grützner  

Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM