Press release

Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research WKI at the nature.tec 2018

Braunschweig / 23.1.2018

From 19th to 28th January 2018, the specialist trade fair nature.tec will once again be taking place. The fair is organized by the FNR (German government agency for renewable resources) and takes place within the framework of the International Green Week in Berlin. The Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research WKI, in collaboration with the Fraunhofer IAP and the Fraunhofer CBP, will be presenting research results on the topic of “The sustainable use of nature’s resources” in Hall 4.2, Stand 304.

This year, the employees of the Fraunhofer WKI will be presenting their latest research work concerning the use of renewable raw materials for adhesives, insulation materials and automotive parts. 

The Surface Technology department will be demonstrating, for example, particle board produced using a white glue which is modified with sugar components. This new (partially) bio-based adhesive contains no formaldehyde and is characterized through a superior thermal resistance in comparison to conventional white glues. The focal points of the project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) via the die Fachagentur für nachwachsende Rohstoffe (German government agency for renewable resources, FNR), are the synthesis and formulation of the adhesives, as well as their processing into plywood, particle board and MDF. In addition to the Fraunhofer WKI, an adhesive manufacturer and four wood-based materials manufacturers are involved in the project. In the Fraunhofer WKI‘s own technical center, the participants carry out preliminary tests before producing the wood-based materials under typical manufacturing conditions. 

Also being presented are EPI adhesives on the basis of lignin, a by-product of paper production, developed by the Fraunhofer WKI. Laboratory tests show that these adhesives exhibit a high resistance to water and heat (classification in accordance with EN 204 for the durability class D4 ). The research work within the project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) via the FNR, is being continued.

Furthermore, the scientists will be presenting vegan leather. The main components are based on vegetable oil and sugar. This enables the realization of very strong or highly flexible artificial leather with a pleasant feel. The products have a high application potential within the automotive and furniture industries. 

Innovative materials for UV-curing processes in additive manufacturing, the so-called 3D printing, are also being presented on the Fraunhofer WKI stand. Currently, UV-curing materials for the additive production of polymers are predominantly based on radically curing polyesters and polyurethanes. For the UV-curing component, acrylic acid is primarily used in these resins. Components which are produced from such resins exhibit, however, several disadvantages, such as high shrinkage, high brittleness, and low thermal resistance. In collaboration with a number of companies, the researchers are developing innovative, radically curing, biogenic polymers for photopolymer-based resins with improved properties. These can then be applied in the three UV-curing additive manufacturing processes stereolithography (SLA), digital light processing (DLP) and multijet modeling (MJM). For the UV-curing component, itaconic acid is used, which is produced biotechnologically from by-products of sugar production. The research work funded by the BMBF therefore not only increases the diversity of materials in the field of additive manufacturing of plastics but also provides a contribution towards sustainability, as material systems for additive manufacturing will be able to increasingly utilize renewable raw materials in the future.

UV-curing printing inks on the basis of sugar are a further topic for the Surface Technology department. In the project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture via the FNR, itaconic acid is also being applied as an alternative to acrylic acid in this type of printing technology.

Furthermore, the Fraunhofer WKI will be presenting the initial results from a project on insulation materials made from renewable raw materials funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) via the FNR (German government agency for renewable resources). “More than just insulation” is the theme of this research project, in which twelve institutions, industrial partners and associations are working together to significantly increase the applicability of insulation materials made from renewable raw resources. This entails facilitating these for manufacturers, planners and processors as well as overcoming existing application barriers, such as in construction law or in standardization regulations. Within the project, the insulation materials are examined holistically. The six specialist working areas are therefore working in an interdisciplinary manner on a comprehensive, global approach.

The Application Center HOFZET will be exhibiting a car door for a sports car, which is made from renewable raw materials. The complete vehicle can be seen next door in Hall 4.2 on Stand 308 of the FNR. The car door represents the expertise of the WKI/HOFZET in product and process development with a focus on the application of bio-based materials in hybrid lightweight construction. In accordance with the component requirements, this was produced from bio-based materials, i.e. natural fibers and bio-epoxy matrix, as well as conventional high-performance fibers such as carbon. As an exhibit, the door demonstrates by way of example that bio-based materials and their combination with high-performance fibers can be technically processed and are suitable for utilization in technical applications. 

As the manufacturing process for the application-oriented combination of natural fibers and high-performance fibers in a bio-based plastic matrix, the researchers used the vacuum infusion process and adapted this for the processing of the bio-based material components into highly stressable components.


We look forward to your visit to the Fraunhofer joint stand in Hall 4.2!