The Schunk Group, headquartered in Heuchelheim, Germany has opened a new Innovation Centre in Heuchelheim. The facility, in which the company has already invested €20 million, hosts state-of-the-art technology, including plasma torches and Additive Manufacturing machines, and will be used to develop high-tech materials and products.
“Today is a very special day for Schunk,” stated Dr Arno Roth, CEO of the Schunk Group. “As a technology company, innovations are quite crucial for us. And our new Innovation Centre, which we are opening today in Heuchelheim, creates the best conditions for developing innovations for the future.”
In the coming weeks, Schunk intends to open a further Innovation Centre at the Reiskirchen site of Weiss Technik. The company believes these investments underscore the importance of its facilities in the region, having invested around €220 million in the state of Hesse alone over the last five years, creating 340 new jobs. The Schunk Group currently employs 3,700 people at its sites in Heuchelheim, Wettenberg and Reiskirchen, making it one of the largest industrial employers in the region.
“Our new innovation center at the Heuchelheim site will be our think tank, where we intend to develop new high-tech materials and technologies and transfer them to industrial production,” stated Dr Ulrich von Hülsen, a member of the executive board of the Schunk Group responsible for the carbon business. “The world is facing enormous challenges in the areas of climate protection, mobility and energy supply. All these megatrends require new materials to solve the existing problems. We are excellently positioned here by developing components for efficient electric motors or industrialising the production of bipolar plates for fuel cells that are suitable for mass production. Reducing the carbon footprint is an important driver for our materials innovations.”
In the Innovation Centre, Schunk’s developers have all development and manufacturing processes at their disposal in one hall, and may no longer need to use existing production machines for this purpose. And as a ‘think tank’, the Innovation Centre is well equipped technically: the entire 3,300 m2 hall is air-conditioned and the temperature and humidity can be precisely controlled. Thanks to two special climate control units, it is possible to create three different climates, thus creating good conditions for the development and production of high-performance materials. The air-conditioning technology required for this was provided by Weiss Technik.
Another example of the focus on the future of technology is the addition of a fully automated, robotic atmospheric plasma torch which activates surfaces and thus enables, for example, high-quality adhesive bonding of fiber composites with aluminium – such material combinations are used, for example, in lightweight construction in aviation.
In the Additive Manufacturing technical centre, a variety of different machines are available, with which almost all AM processes can be represented. As in an internal startup, this technology is to be made usable for Schunk.