Innovationswerkstatt

When existing knowledge comes together, new things are created.

Innovation, startups, digitization and artificial intelligence are on everyone’s mind nowadays. Yet the tangible products, whose design and development require other spaces and possibilities and which surround us at every turn, often fall to the side in public discourse. Small and medium-sized companies and investors in particular are struggling to keep their products up-to-date in terms of material composition, sustainability, resources and design and to expand their product portfolio. Forward-looking problems and product ideas gather dust in a desk drawer or in a folder somewhere on a server.

We aim to change that. We bring innovation to the Ruhr area.

The Innovationswerkstatt offers companies and investors the opportunity to implement and further develop an existing product idea or problem using the open innovation approach in a cost- and time-efficient manner. Whether it’s about giving a concept the final design touch, evaluating existing products from the point of view of feasibility, sustainability, material science, reproducibility, etc. or building a functional prototype, with us an in-house innovation department is not necessary. We offer lived open innovation in the middle of the Ruhr area.

WHAT IS OPEN INNOVATION?

What is Open Innovation?

Open innovation is the targeted opening of an innovation process to the outside world. It enables industry-independent feedback from external partners and accelerates development times.

WHAT IS THE INNOVATIONSWERKSTATT?

What is the Innovationswerkstatt?

The Innovationswerkstatt is a workshop and office for design, engineering and prototyping. We support companies and investors with a professional perspective in living “Open Innovation”.

HOW DOES THE INNOVATIONSWERKSTATT WORK?

How does the Innovationswerkstatt work?

We work in a project-based rhythm in cooperation with companies, research institutions and students. This way, e.g. functional prototypes are built within a short timeframe and according to the latest findings from industry and research.

WHO IS THE INNOVATIONSWERKSTATT FOR?

Who is the Innovationswerkstatt for?

The Innovationswerkstatt is a place for companies and investors who want to develop an existing product idea or wish to implement or further develop an innovation approach in a cost- and time-efficient manner, based on the Open Innovation approach.

Who we are

As FELLERdesign, we are a commercial enterprise without external financial support. We are based in the heart of the start-up hotspot Ruhr area. Our day-to-day business is product development and production technology. We are down-to-earth, competent and always with the latent middle finger on the pulse of the times. In short: we are the ideal partner for the industry, creative people, teaching and science to drive new things forward.

With the Innovationswerkstatt, we offer access to office and work spaces that are equipped with machines, tools and equipment for design, construction and implementation. Here we want to share our knowledge and practical experience at the workbench with those who want to make a difference and create something.

We are a well-coordinated and experienced team of creatives whose strengths are their manual skills and their versatility, and we offer an implemented network that makes almost anything possible. The whole thing is supported and carried by young, motivated people from universities, the trades and the industrial sector who are in training, advanced education or in an internship and who want to try out their skills and get involved in real projects.

News

GREENTECH FESTIVAL: WE’LL BE THERE

From June 22 to 24, 2022, the Greentech Festival, founded by Nico Rosberg in 2019, will take place on the site of the former Berlin Airport TXL.

The festival brings together sustainable and innovative startups, companies, activists and scientists and offers a global platform for sustainable concepts and green technologies. Of course we can’t not take such an opportunity!

Our partner ASC Services Deutschland GmbH, on whose behalf we developed the AquaSpeeder, will take part in the 2022 edition of the Greentech Festival with their own booth. Uwe will also be on site during all three days of the event and will be available to answer questions from anyone who’s interested. Will you be there too? If you want to see the AquaSpeeder in real life or learn more about our work and us, do come by!

ARE NATURAL FIBER REINFORCED PLASTICS WORTH IT?

In October 2021, we presented the AquaSpeeder, which we had developed on behalf of a private investor, to the public. However, the project is far from over for us. Even at the beginning of the development phase, the idea to further optimize the due to its electric propeller drive already environmentally friendly AquaSpeeder had been on our minds.

The hull of the AquaSpeeder is built from fiberglass composite using a lightweight construction method — a process in which glass fibers are embedded in a matrix of epoxy resin. They then ensure that the forces that act on it are introduced into the component in a targeted manner. The result is a highly stable yet lightweight hull.

However, glass fibers have the disadvantage that they are neither renewable nor biodegradable — in contrast to natural fibers.

Are natural fibers the solution?

They are, in any case, an alternative that can and should be considered more closely.

As the name suggests, natural fibers are of both animal and plant origin, with the majority of plant fibers used in fiber composites being from plants such as flax, hemp, jute, kenaf, sisal and abaca.

Natural fiber reinforced plastics, or NFRP for short, have so far mainly been used in the automotive industry, e.g. for the interior paneling of doors. They offer high rigidity with low density. In short: they are extremely resilient and light at the same time.

Here’s a small density comparison:

Steel — 7.9 g/cc.

Fiberglass — 2.7 g/cc.

Carbon Fiber — 1.8 g/cc.

Flax fiber — 1.4 g/cc.

Since hemp, flax and the like are renewable raw materials that — depending on the plant — can be grown on almost every continent, a constant supply could be guaranteed. They cause less CO2 during production and also bind CO2 from the atmosphere while the plant is growing. Natural fiber reinforced plastics offer good thermal and sound insulation. Up to 100% of the cutting waste that occurs in the processing can be reused.

In addition, resins are now available with 50% of the carbon content derived from plants, which in turn can save 50% of CO2 compared to conventional resins.

Even if you include the post-production processing steps, natural fiber composites have a carbon footprint that is around 50% lower than fiberglass composites.

So, what’s the catch?

To put it simply: since flax fibers, for example, offer only one-fifth the tensile strength (force required to hold a weight against gravity) of, for example, carbon fibers and half the tensile strength of glass fibers, a component using flax fibers would need to weigh four times as much as an otherwise identical component made of carbon fibers in order to be equally effective. Same goes for flax fibers compared to glass fibers. Since fibers and resin are used in fiber composites in a 50/50 ratio, using more fibers also means using more resin. This not only worsens the ecological balance, but may even reverse it.

While the pure natural fiber remains CO2-neutral even when needing disposal, components made of fiber composites must be disposed of as special waste regardless of the fiber used due to their plastic content. This usually happens thermally.

Flax fibers (still) cost more than five times as much as glass fibres. Their properties are, on a basic level, similar to those of glass fibers, but cannot replace them one-to-one. In addition, it is a location-dependent natural product that requires particularly targeted quality management in order to cushion fluctuations caused by the climate.

As with so many things, cost matters. The know-how required for the cultivation of hemp, flax and the like is primarily used in the textile industry. Only a few manufacturers produce natural fibers for use in fiber composites. Their fibers are priced accordingly.

A preliminary conclusion

Applied to our example of the AquaSpeeder, the current prices for carbon, glass and natural fibers mean that an otherwise identical component that is made with flax fibers would cost six times as much as one made with glass fibers and would be 20% more expensive than one made with carbon fibers.

We are all aware that eco-friendly materials cost more. As product developers, however, we are confronted with the question of whether natural fibers are (already) worth it from an ecological and economic point of view.

Weight plays an important role in the construction of watercraft, which is why the use of natural fibers for structurally important components is currently not an option for us. But: more and more resins with biodegradable components are becoming available. It is conceivable to use bioresins in combination with natural fibers for structurally unstressed components such as panelling, upper shell and lid?

We would be happy to discuss this as well as to receive input regarding our thesis that, taking into account mutually influential factors such as density, weight, resin content and tensile strength, the use of natural fiber materials is not ecologically and economically worthwhile at the present time. Can you think of any use cases we missed in our considerations?

NEWS: ZDI-NETWORK ENNEPE-RUHR

The year starts off with great news: the zdi-network Ennepe-Ruhr has moved in with us this month! It stands for #zukunftdurchinnovation (#futurethroughinnovation) and aims to inspire young people to pursue a career in a STEM field and to give them an insight into the professional practice of dual training professions. In addition, it lends, among other things, humanoic robots, 3D printers and experiment kits to school and extracurricular learning locations in order to introduce kids in the region to the STEM subjects in a playful way.

OUR TEAM

We support each other

Contact

INNOVATIONSWERKSTATT.RUHR

Auf der Bleiche 8, 58300 Wetter (Ruhr)

0049 (0)2335 / 9675498

info@innovationswerkstatt.ruhr

WOLLEN WIR IN KONTAKT BLEIBEN?

Für Spam haben wir gar keine Zeit! Wir informieren über Innovationen, laufende und anstehende Projekte, Kooperationen, Workshops, etc.

Der Newsletter kann jederzeit wieder abbestellt werden. Erfahre mehr in unserer Datenschutzerklärung.

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WOLLEN WIR IN KONTAKT BLEIBEN?

Für Spam haben wir gar keine Zeit! Wir informieren über Innovationen, laufende und anstehende Projekte, Kooperationen, Workshops, etc.

Der Newsletter kann jederzeit wieder abbestellt werden. Erfahre mehr in unserer Datenschutzerklärung.