Fields of innovation: Would you like to develop innovative applications with plastics?

Together with Swiss research institutes, we have identified the following fields of innovation as the areas, which offer the biggest potential for innovation in the coming years.

Follow the fields relevant to you and get weekly “news from your fields of innovation”, your personal newsletter with real application examples, so called showcases. They serve as inspiration for your own innovative applications.


Additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing /3D printing comprises of several different technologies that can produce parts layer by layer directly from digital files. On the one hand, 3D printing is improving traditional plastics processing technologies, e.g. through conformal cooling in tool making. On the other hand, additive manufacturing is a competition to the traditional technologies, especially in application with high complexity, strong customization or small series. Learn more about the AM technologies and their applications here.


Artificial intelligence

As part of industry 4.0, artificial intelligence aims to create processes and business operations which improve themselves. The goal is to consume less resources and to create an optimal final product.


Big data

As part of industry 4.0 and the internet of things (iot), big data looks at the generation, collection and analysis of information (data) for the purpose of optimizing products and processes.


Bio-based plastics

There are two types of polymers, which are labelled as bio-based plastics. Either the molecules of the plastic are gained from organic (yet renewable) raw materials, which are then processed into a polymer. Or the plastic is biologically recyclable (independent of the origin of the material).


Cooperation in networks

The complexity and dynamic of today's markets require an ever faster and more individual approach do develop new products and solutions. On the other hand, resources are restricted within companies. This challenge can be addressed through a cooperation across companies.


Cross-linking plastics

The inner structures of cross-linking plastics are characterized by a thermally stable, non-reversible connections. Cross-linking plastics are for instance thermosets, resins or rubber. Through polymer reengineering, thermoplastics can also be increasingly cross-linked. As cross-linking works through a chemical rather than a thermal process, these plastics can be used for different types of applications.


Efficiency

Efficiency looks at the entire plastic production facility and aims at optimizing resource consumption, such as electric energy, water, air, etc.


Fiber composite technology

A carbon composite material consists (mainly) of a polymer base und an embedded fiber. The fiber can consist of different materials (glass, carbon, metal, wood, etc.). Depending on the material, different terms are used: Carbon composits, glassfibre composites, etc.


Functional integration

Functional integration aims at integrating as many functions as possible in a plastic part (e.g. snap fits, threads, thin flexible cover layers, light conductive elements, etc.). In order to do so, different measures (e.g. more complex constructions) and technologies (e.g. multi-component technology) are used.


Hybrid technology

Hybrid technology means the combination of metal and plastics. Sometimes, plastic might also be combined with other materials than metal. The goal is to benefit from the specific advantages of the different materials and/or to prevent assembly work. One of the technologies used is insert molding.


Life cycle management

Life cycle management looks at products from a wholistic point of view. Thereby, production, distribution, use and disposal / re-use are taken into consideration. Goal is to optimize different aspects fo the product over the entire life cycle and not just in one of the stages. For instance, higher production costs may be offset through savings during the use of the product.


Lightweight construction

Lightweight construction aims to save weight through clever engineering. Reasons might be the reduction of cost, of weight and/or achievement of a special design. Other than with metal replacement, the target is not to substitute metal with plastic in order to reduce weight, but to create a lighter plastic part with the same functionality through a smarter design / construction.


Metal replacement

Metal replacement substitutes metal constructions with plastics. Reasons are, among others, the reduction of weight, functional integration, change of properties or cost savings. In order to fulfill typical requirements of metal parts, mostly fiber reinforced plastics are used for such applications.


Micro- & nanotechnology

Micro- & nanotechnology deal with particles of the size of 0.1 – 1‘000 mm (microtechnology) and below of 100 nanometers (nanotechnology). Through the use of these technologies, the properties of plastic parts can be fundamentally changed / improved.


Multi-component technology

Multi-component technology denotes the production of a part consisting of several polymer materials in only one tool. Depending on the number of different materials, the technical terms 2K, 3K, etc. are used.


Polymer engineering

Polymer engineering looks into the development of new or altered polymer materials. Typically, molecules of the material are changed in regards to certain properties. However, polymer engineering can also be performed through compounding. Mail goals are either to change or improve properties or to reduce cost.


Process integration

Process integration aims to include upstream or downstream process steps directly into the plastic production process. E.g. assembly steps can be done directly when ejecting parts from a tool. Or robots can be used to automate further tasks.


Quality and lean operations

Quality and lean processes is a management philosophy, which reduces all sorts of waste and which aims at fulfilling the highest requirements towards products. Targets are among others to guarantee product quality, reduce scrap and create savings.


Recycling

Recycling deals with products at the end of their life cycle. Either the product or components of it can be reused or the materials in it can be regained. Recycling is not only done for improving sustainability of a product, but can often create substantial cost savings.


Smart manufacturing

Smart manufacturing is a part of industry 4.0 and iot (internet of things). Thereby, plastics processing will be improved through the following elements: connected production infrastructure, autonomous production, real time monitoring, self-learning control systems, etc.


Surface technology

Different technologies can be used to fundamentally alter the properties of plastic surfaces. The change can be in regards to thermal, hydrological, light emitting or mechanical properties.


Virtual development and simulation

As part of industry 4.0, virtual product development and simulation has an important role. To reduce resource consumption, certain aspects of a product or of the production are simulated in order to do a reality check long before the first prototype.

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