nano.swiss

The community platform nano.swiss has been established in 2019 by the Hightech Zentrum Aargau to serve as an intermediary between users and research. It aims at providing the players of the Swiss nano community with a free, well-structured online presence and supports innovation and technology transfer in the areas of nanotechnologies and advanced materials. To its users, nano.swiss offers access to research or application partners, new technologies, relevant news, and events. Today, the platform is also present in social media.

2020 annual event of the Hightech Zentrum Aargau and nano.swiss. 

The event from the series "Nano & Industry" on the topic of "Applications in Tooling Technology", on February 27, 2020, met with great interest. The Hightech Zentrum Aargau and partner Swissmem welcomed more than 130 visitors in Brugg. The event addressed innovations in tool materials and manufacturing processes.
The topic of this year's event on November 11, 2021 will be "Applications in Photonics".

Innovative production methods for fiber-reinforced plastics for rolling stock parts

aXpel composites AG specializes in the processing of glass-fiber reinforced plastics into technical molded parts for customers from various industries. The SME from Hottwil relies on a high level of innovative strength to stand up to international competition.

aXpel composites AG emerged from the former family business Wernli AG Kunststoffwerk. This had begun to specialize in the processing of polyurethane and other plastics since 1962. Since 2018, the company has been part of the aXpel group, which comprises more than half a dozen legally independent companies that all operate independently in different markets. Since mid-2020, the Aargau SME has been operating as aXpel composites AG. The company offers a complete range of competencies for the development and realization of projects in the field of fiber composites, from the idea to the finished series part. The high-quality molded parts are casings, housings or vehicle parts. The customers are, for example, at home in mechanical engineering, vehicle or plant construction, in medical technology or in electrical apparatus engineering.

"We have to be innovative, work smartly and efficiently, that's the only way to take advantage of our opportunities in an increasingly competitive environment," emphasizes Manfred Lang, who has led the company as CEO since 2010. As a result of the Corona pandemic, certain projects were stopped by customers. Currently, aXpel composites has 25 employees and is "doing well". An important role in the development of the SME is played by the Hightech Zentrum Aargau (HTZ), whose central mission is to support SMEs in Aargau with innovation projects. In the recent past, HTZ technology and innovation expert Leendert den Haan has been involved in several strategic projects.

One major project examined how an existing interchangeable frame system for the windows of rail vehicles could be further developed. The approach examined was to no longer glue the panes viscoelastically to the frame but to hold them in the frame by means of a clamp. It was hoped that this would ultimately result in substantial time and cost savings in the event of repairs. The research partner in the project was the Fiber Composite Plastics Group of the Department of Architecture, Design and Civil Engineering at the ZHAW (Zurich University of Applied Sciences).

For more detailed information, see:  https://nano.swiss/projekt/axpel-composites-ag-hottwil (in German).

Made by aXpel composites
Made by aXpel composites: Cockpit of express train EC250, housing of a kidney stone crusher, casing of an electric tricycle. Source: aXpel composites AG


More efficiency and higher market power

With locally controllable infrared emitters from Krelus AG, the processing of fiber composite structures can be optimized.

In many industrial production processes, the competitiveness of a component depends on the quality of the heat input. Krelus AG, as the market-leading manufacturer of infrared emitters, is further expanding its position thanks to the support of the Hightech Zentrum Aargau.

For more than 40 years, Krelus has been producing high-performance, customized infrared emitters for a wide range of applications: coating of plastics, textiles as well as paper, thermoforming, activation of adhesives, drying of printing inks, welding of plastics. A new field of application is the production and curing of thermoset fiber composite structures, for example aircraft wing parts, wind turbines or car spoilers. In view of the high price pressure, Krelus wanted to speed up the energy-intensive process and also make it easier to control. The Hightech Zentrum Aargau expert initiated a feasibility study and recruited the Institute for Plastics Technology IKT of the FHNW in Windisch for the research part. Additional resources and facilities were used at the Plastics Training and Technology Center, KATZ, in Aarau.

Lower energy costs

The solution is to direct the required heat specifically to the surface of the component to be cured by means of an infrared emitter field. This allows the curing process to be optimally controlled. Furthermore, the thermal mass to be heated is significantly reduced and the process time shortened. The innovation consists in the development of a model to determine the local control parameters to the individually controllable radiation fields. Following the initial feasibility study, a bigger Innosuisse project was started, focusing on three-dimensional structures. For HTZ expert Leendert den Haan, Krelus is "an excellent example that high-tech is also achievable for Aargau SMEs and that this is in demand globally." Krelus exports to over 60 countries.

For more detailed information, see:  https://nano.swiss/projekt/mehr-effizienz-hoehere-marktpower (in German).

 Example car spoiler

Example car spoiler: Infrared emitters control production and curing. Source: Krelus AG

 
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16 OCTOBER 2021