Fraunhofer IAP pools lightweight construction technologies at the Wildau site

© Fraunhofer IAP, Photo: Till Budde (f.l.t.r.): Dr. Christian Dreyer, Christian Langfeld, Andreas Meuer, Prof. Dr. Ralf Raimund Vandenhouten, Dr. Martina Münch, Gunnar Rekersdrees, Stephan Loge, Prof. Dr. Alexander Böker

Illustration of the new office and laboratory building of the Fraunhofer IAP in Wildau, © B+P Reiner Becker GmbH

On June 8, 2018, in the presence of Dr. Martina Münch, Minister of Science, Research, and Culture of the State of Brandenburg, Andreas Meuer, Member of the Board of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Stephan Loge, District Administrator of the District Dahme-Spreewald, and Prof. Dr. med. Ralf Raimund Vandenhouten, Vice President for Research and Transfer at TH Wildau laid the corner stone for a new office and laboratory building in Wildau.

Lightweight construction applications for aerospace, automotive, wind turbines, and rail vehicles are the focus of Polymer Materials and Composite PYCO research of the Fraunhofer IAP. For 26 years, PYCO has been researching thermosetting fiber composites based on reactive resins that have to meet the highest demands. So far, the technologies for synthesis, resin formulation, and component manufacturing were distributed to three different locations in Teltow and Wildau.

Now they are to be merged with a new laboratory and office building with a usable area of around 2,700 square meters at the Wildau site and expanded with state-of-the-art technology. The building, designed by the architects of B+P Reiner Becker GmbH under the direction of Gunnar Rekersdrees, is designed for around 40 employees and is scheduled for completion in early 2020. At the heart of the Wildau technical center is an impregnation plant, which can be modularly constructed. It is universally applicable for coatings, impregnations, and prepreg-production. The system also offers the ability to harden materials using alternative techniques such as microwave, UV LEDs, or infrared radiation.

“By pooling all of our expertise at one location, we will be able to process orders from industry much faster, if only because the distances are shorter. In addition, we are more flexible in the choice and combination of techniques. Christian Dreyer, who temporarily heads PYCO research. “The close proximity to the aerospace industry and TH Wildau are of great importance to us, since we can now work together more closely in terms of space,” says Dreyer.

Strengthening the innovative power of the Wildau region

Minister of Science Martina Münch said in her speech: “The resulting building and the associated pooling of lightweight engineering competences of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research are an important milestone in further strengthening research and innovation potential at the Wildau site. The project fits perfectly into the innovation strategy of the state of Brandenburg, especially in the Plastics and Chemicals Cluster. The future research building, with its modern technology, will greatly expand the possibilities for transfer between non-university research, universities, and industry. There are the best conditions here for material development from chemistry to the component. The funds used represent money well invested. “The new building is funded by 17.6 million euros at 80 percent by the European Regional Development Fund and 10 percent each by the Federal Government and the State of Brandenburg.

Stronger cooperation with regional industry

In the Wildau area, PYCO already cooperates with companies in the automotive and aviation industries. “We are pleased about the continued success of this research area and the associated direct strengthening of our industry-relevant expertise in the field of lightweight construction,” explains Andreas Meuer, Fraunhofer’s head of controlling and digital business processes. “PYCO has tremendous growth potential due to the specific range of services and the increasing demand in the thermoset and lightweight construction sector. Thanks to its location in the capital region of Berlin-Brandenburg, our partnership with the local technical college and its proximity to the Schönefelder Kreuz Center for Aerospace, the Wildau site is highly attractive,” says Meuer.

Stephan Loge, District Administrator of the Dahme-Spreewald district said: “The Wildau site will be strengthened with the construction of the new office and laboratory buildings in its intellectual, economic, and structural range. For the region of our district this means not only job creation, but also the visibility of regional excellence. In addition, I’m sure that the proximity to industry and the good regional connections will be a significant asset for the settlement here.”

Close cooperation with TH Wildau

Since 2015, there has been a joint “thermosets in lightweight construction” research group of the TH Wildau with PYCO research from the Fraunhofer IAP. The focal points of this Fraunhofer-University of Applied Sciences cooperation are activities for more efficient production processes of lightweight construction materials as well as their recycling, reuse, and repair, for example: For applications in the aerospace industry, the automotive industry, or wind turbines. In doing so, the team can draw on synergies through the mutual use of the respective expertise and the excellent research infrastructure of both institutions.

TH Wildau students are further educated in the PYCO technical center as part of internships and final theses, and a joint appointment procedure at the TH Wildau is nearing completion. “The fact that we are successful together as a team has also been demonstrated by the Federal Funding Initiative Innovative University,” said Prof. Dr. Ralf Vandenhouten, Vice President for Research and Transfer at TH Wildau. The Innovation Hub 13 project, which was proposed by the TH Wildau together with the BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg, also approved a transfer scout for PYCO, which aims to put joint research activities on a sustainable footing and strengthen cooperation with business partners. “All in all, the cooperation between TH Wildau and PYCO is a perfect arrangement for a functioning technology transfer,” says Vandenhouten.

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