At its International FSK Conference Polyurethane 2019 on November 13th and 14th in Reutlingen near Stuttgart, the Association Foamed Plastics and Polyurethanes e.V. (FSK) awarded this year’s FSK Innovation Award Foamed Plastics and Polyurethanes in the categories “Technology – Processing and Chemistry” and “Design and Creation” to a total of five award winners, whose award-winning projects are presented below.

For the 21st time, the FSK Innovation Award of the Association Foamed Plastics and Polyurethanes e.V. (FSK) was presented at its International Conference on Polyurethanes 2019. The awards were presented in a ceremonial act in the city hall in Reutlingen near Stuttgart. The FSK Innovation Award for Foamed Plastics and Polyurethanes was announced jointly for the first time in 2019. The award was presented in two categories: “Technology – Processing and Chemistry” and “Design and Creation”. “With the Europe-wide announcement of this annual innovation award, we as a trade association want to motivate, among other things, young professionals to submit innovative ideas, forward-looking concepts and sustainable new developments in the field of foam plastics and polyurethanes,” explains Klaus Junginger, FSK Managing Director. “At the same time, we want to encourage young talent and support cooperation between award winners and industry partners,” he adds. In 2019, a total of 16 projects from individuals and groups from universities and companies were submitted to the trade association within the application deadline. The decision on the award winners was made by a jury of experts selected by the Association Foamed Plastics and Polyurethanes. In addition to the novelty and innovative strength of the submitted products and solutions, the evaluation criteria were their expected market and competitive strength. Their material-specific implementation and technical feasibility also played an important role. In order to ensure a fair and appropriate assessment and awarding of prizes according to the level of knowledge and experience, the jury members assessed entries from young professionals as well as from specialists, professionals and companies separately. In 2019, the expert jury decided to award a total of five prizes – four of them in the category “Technology – Processing and Chemistry”. Within these, two awards were given to specialists, professionals and companies. The other two in this category went to young professionals in the industry. One prize was awarded in the category “Design and Creation” and with it the young talents of the industry. The Innovation Award was presented by Martin Dietrich, R&D consultant for polyurethanes and materials at Getzner Werkstoffe, specialist for vibration insulation, from Bürs, Austria. Starting with the category “Technology – Processing and Chemistry” in the area of skilled workers, professionals and companies, all five prize winners are briefly introduced below: Wiebke Speckels, Julia Liese and Bert Neuhaus from BASF Polyurethanes were pleased to receive the award for their project “High temperature resistant pultrusion material – Elastocat® C 6226/107”. BASF Polyurethanes has developed a pultrusion material that is suitable for applications with the highest temperature requirements in terms of temperature peaks and mechanical stability over a wide temperature range and has a special physical property profile for special applications. Another award in this category went to Katrin Laumann and Dr. Marc Schürmann from Bomix Chemie. The award went to the submitted concept with the project title “Bondable release agent for steering wheel production”. Bomix Chemie has succeeded in developing a release agent that reduces the cleaning process after foaming and demoulding of the steering wheels to a minimum and often even eliminates it completely. What is innovative about this is that it is a special solution which is also suitable for combination products with IMC. In the category “Technology – Chemistry and Processing” – Young Talent, it is not necessarily an innovation that is already in the marketability stage. Rather, it is about the idea and its potential possibilities. Lukas Knorr, a doctoral student at the Friedrich-Alexander University (FAU) in Erlangen/BMW, was delighted to receive an award in this category. He received the award for his project “Additive production (3D printing) of foams in a 2-component process”. Additive manufacturing technologies enable a decisive acceleration of the product development process. Prototypes and small series can be produced cost-effectively in a wide variety of materials without the need for a shaping tool. In addition, the layered structure allows geometric freedom of design, which is not possible with conventional production methods using ablation or casting processes. The jury of experts assessed this “academic idea” as an innovation, even though it is still unsuitable for prototype construction or series production. Markus Rottmar, Scientific Group Leader at Empa Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, was also honored as a newcomer to the industry. His project “ScarAvoid – A novel 3D foam to treat chronic skin wounds and scar tissue formation” received the award. As a researcher at the Swiss Research Institute for Application-Oriented Materials Science and Technology, he has developed ScarAvoid, a curcumin foam that is highly innovative for the medical technology sector and can be used to treat difficult-to-heal and complex wounds while preventing scarring. Similar products have so far only been concerned with wound healing, but not with preventing scar formation. Only one prize was awarded in the “Design and Creation” category. This was awarded to the newcomers to the industry. Michael Bettati, Product Design Engineer at Dolfinos, received the award for his “Violin rest as an ergonomic interface with high-end polyurethane padding”. The novelty is that unlike all previous violin supports with inferior foam, where the violin player had to adapt to the equipment, a solution was developed here that can be adapted to the needs of the human being. In this project idea, various polyurethane foam formulations were tested in close cooperation with Zelu Chemie and compared with other foams such as XPE 33 and XVA 45. This made it possible to develop a sustainable polyurethane cushion that was as good as new despite being subjected to even high levels of stress for seven consecutive days of six hours each. The decisive optimization of the violin rest in this sustainability concept is achieved through the material properties of the high-end padding. “We are delighted with the diverse and very interesting projects and ideas submitted,” sums up Dietrich: “We are already looking forward to receiving applications for the FSK Innovation Award 2020, which will again be jointly announced for foam plastics and polyurethanes next year and awarded at the FSK’s International Conference on Foamed Plastics 2020”.

FSK-Innovationspreis Schaumkunststoffe und Polyurethane 2019. V.l. Martin Dietrich (Getzner Werkstoffe), Markus Rottmar (Empa Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology), Julia Liese und Bert Neuhaus (BASF Polyurethanes), Michael Bettati (Dolfinos AG), Lukas Knorr (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität (FAU) in Erlangen/BMW), Katrin Laumann und Dr. Marc Schürmann (Bomix Chemie).

FSK Innovation Award Foamed Plastics and Polyurethanes 2019 F.l. Martin Dietrich (Getzner Werkstoffe), Markus Rottmar (Empa Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology), Julia Liese und Bert Neuhaus (BASF Polyurethanes), Michael Bettati (Dolfinos AG), Lukas Knorr (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität (FAU) in Erlangen/BMW), Katrin Laumann und Dr. Marc Schürmann (Bomix Chemie).