Processing and formulation of polymeric materials
Our expertise in polymeric materials covers materials development, processing, and formulation right through to material and component characterization and encompasses the whole value creation chain from molecule to component. The emphasis is on molecule design and the synthesis of raw materials for adhesives, coatings, and matrix resins. At the fore are reactive systems that are processed into thermosets, elastomers, and thermoplastics. Fraunhofer IFAM develops new, customized polymer systems for applications in areas as diverse as lightweight design, components for energy storage systems, and medical technology.
Functional polymeric materials
With the aim of equipping components and materials with additional functionalities, the development work focuses on stimuli-responsive adhesives, self-healing coating systems, and adaptive composite materials. Polymers based on sustainable raw materials and polymers that are biodegradable are becoming ever more important due to the issues of resource scarcity and the increasing environmental pollution caused by plastics. For example, starch-based wood adhesives are being developed as biocomposites made from biopolymers and natural fibers for the packaging and agricultural industry, and additives made from chitosan for anti-fouling coatings.
Measurement of the functionality and service life
A key aspect is material characterization to determine material properties. These data are used in combination with numerical simulation methods to predict functionality and service life. The computer modeling of fiber reinforced plastics and bonded structures uses simplified mathematical models and the finite element method (FEM) to derive polymer-specific material models and modeling techniques. With the help of the material testing laboratory material cards are created and available for FEM programs allowing for material- and application-related sizing of bonded joints and structures.
An overarching aspect is quality assurance. The continuous monitoring of polymer reactions and the resulting components using customized analytical methods is a vital tool for guaranteeing high quality end products. This is facilitated by our certified workforce training courses. These courses are not sector or product specific. Part of the workforce training involves technology transfer, whereby the latest scientific findings and methods are passed to industry.
Research objectives in the area of polymeric materials
- Development of polymers as raw materials for adhesives, coatings, and matrix resins
- Processing of reactive systems into thermosets, elastomers, and thermoplastics
- Spectroscopic methods for monitoring reactions and for characterizing materials
- Thermal analysis and rheology for characterizing polymeric materials
- Polymers based on sustainable raw materials and plastics with controlled (bio)degradability
- Development of adaptable, multifunctional polymers
- Production, mixing, and application methods
- Material characterization to measure key material parameters
- Prediction of functionality and service life
- Material-related and application-related sizing of bonded joints and structures
- Manufacture of prototype components and structures
- Processing technologies (milling, drilling, waterjet cutting)
- Quality assurance and technology transfer