Infrastructure and facilities

Pilot plant PLA production from lactic acid

Pilot plant for the production of PLA from lactic acid, generally modular usable for the synthesis of polycondensation polymers (polyesters, polyamides AABB like PA 6.6 etc), polyaddition polymers (polyamides AB like PA6, polyurethanes etc), for radical heterophase polymerizations as well as various separation and purification tasks. Production of lactide up to 10kg, PLA and other polymers in batch up to 5kg, PLA continuous in DSE up to 10kg, polymer dispersions up to 20kg.

  • 25L enamel full view vessel with distillation periphery, up to 200°C, -1 to 0.5 bar
  • 12L stainless steel reactor with distillation periphery, up to 300°C, -1 to 10bar
  • Rectification column with 30 theoretical trays, max. 250°C, receiver vessel 10L
  • Melt crystallization, 1.5L and 7.5L batch vessels
  • 1L, 1.5L and 7.5L stainless steel polycondensation vessels, up to 300°C, -1 to 60 or 25bar, torques up to 3000Ncm, digital data acquisition
  • 12mm twin screw extruder 36D, throughput 0.1-2kg/h, up to 400°C, 8 heating zones, 3 degassing or metering ports
  • strand pelletizing
© Fraunhofer IAP

Melt spinning plant

Melt spinning plant for the production and sampling of filament yarns from bio-based thermoplastics (PLA, PBS, PA, etc.) on a kg scale.

Melt spinning plant according to the spin-draw process (Fa. Fourné).

  • Processing temperatures ≤ 400 °C
  • Melt throughput max. 3 kg/h
  • haul-off speeds: 180 - 1800 m/min
  • Spinneret geometries: round, trilobal, bico
  • Filament count: 1 - 120

Modular drafting system for post-processing

  • max. 6000 tex
  • integrated commingling unit
  • heated stretching pallet and/or heating plate
  • max. 300 m/min
© Fraunhofer IAP/Till Budde

Test rigs for determining aging and degradation behavior

Various test methods are available for evaluating the aging and degradation behavior of plastics, which are selected depending on the material being tested and the research question. Various analytical methods are used to assess aging, such as the documentation of optical changes by means of microscope images or the determination of polymer physical and chemical properties.

  • Test duration depending on the task and material between four weeks and two years
  • Tests in various substrates (e.g. compost, fresh water)
  • Temperature range for solid substrates: 20 to 60 °C
  • adjustable humidity of the substrate
  • use of UV radiation to investigate the influence of sunlight
  •  recognized testing laboratory of the Bundesgütegemeinschaft Kompost and recognized testing laboratory of DIN CERTCO for tests on compostability of materials according to DIN EN 13432, DIN EN 14995, ASTM 6400
© Fraunhofer UMSICHT

Weathering & Aging of Plastics and Recyclates

For the simulated weathering in the laboratory, Xenon arc Weather-Ometer is available, as well as equipment for rapid testing with mercury vapor lamp. We carry out standardized tests as well as tests with weathering cycles according to customer specifications. As long test durations cause high costs and delay developments, shorter testing procedures have long been of great interest to the industry. This can be achieved by tailor-made weathering cycles and conclusive early detection methods, which we develop and provide to our customers.

  • Weathering (WoM Ci4000, Xenotest Alpha, Suntest XLS+, QUV weathering tester),
  • Weathering also under salt water (Suntest XLS+, Bandol-Wheel),
  • UV-C aging (intensities between 0.05 and 45 mW/cm2 for periods ranging from a few hours to several weeks), reciprocity testing (UV & UV-C), temperature-humidity cycling, climate storage, moisture resistance (WK-600), heat aging. Climatic testing is performed at relative humidities (RH) from 10%RH to 98%RH at temperature between 10°C and 95°C. Thermal ageing can be carried out in a range from -40°C to 180°C.

Extensive measuring equipment is available for the prediction of service life time. For example, ultrasonic measurement techniques and NMR-sensors were integrated in weathering devices, which allows to follow the in-situ changes of the material properties and to optimize the weathering cycles. Non-destructive examination of weathered polymer coatings is conducted with scanning acoustic microscopy. Structural elucidation with imaging and scattering techniques, dynamic mechanical analysis or differential scanning calorimetry complement these specialized testing methods. To grasp the changes of chemical properties, methods such as the determination of molar mass and optical spectroscopy are used.

© Fraunhofer LBF/Raapke

Material characterization

In addition to numerous chemical, physical and mechanical methods for polymer and material characterization, we offer various special methods tailored to plastic recyclates. As more and more recyclate virgin blends are in circulation, the need for reliable characterization and authentication of recyclates from post-industrial waste in such blends in terms of quality and conformity is also growing. Especially for polyolefins (PE / PP) (PET in development) we offer:

  • Proof that your sample actually contains the declared amount of recyclate.
  • An improved understanding of the chemical and physical changes that occur in the material as a result of recycling
  • Tailor-made method developments to elucidate deeper issues and structure-property relationships.

The latter include, in particular, special methods for polymer and recyclate analysis such as:

  • High temperature GPC for polyolefins
  • Room temperature (RT) GPC for engineering polymers (POM, polyesters, polyamides, polyurethanes, ...)
  • High temperature HPLC (Hypercarb or Silica column; alternatives on request)
  • Room temperature HPLC (Hypercarb, NP, RP)
  • High temperature 2D-LC (online)
  • Room temperature 2D-LC (offline)
  • High temperature NMR (Varian Mercury-VX 400)
  • Confocal Raman microscopy (WITec Alpha 500)
© Fraunhofer LBF/Raapke

Fire test lab

When developing new, flame-retardant plastic compositions, the aim is to achieve an optimum combination of flame retardancy, processability and mechanical properties. Special expertise is required for the investigation of flame retardant properties, which goes far beyond the characterization of chemical, physical and mechanical material properties. We therefore offer

  • Fire classification tests according to UL94,
  • Cone calorimetry,
  • Limited Oxygen Index (OIT),
  • Comparative Tracking Index (CTI),
  • Glow-Wire-Ignition-Temperature (GWIT)
  • High Voltage Tracking Test (IPT)
© Fraunhofer LBF/Raapke


Pyrolysis plants in various scales (0.1-70 kg/h):

  • Patented, continuously operated screw reactor
  • Patented combined heat exchanger system
  • Prevention of tar formation and clogging of condensation chambers by innovative clarification unit
  • Rapid temperature ramp-up, skipping the temperature ranges critical for the formation of dioxins and furans   
  • High process stability and plant availability
  • Temperature of up to 700°C, adjustable residence time
  • Flexible scalability from 70 kg/h up to > 5t/h
  • Low pretreatment requirements


© Fraunhofer UMSICHT

Modular Extrusion Technology Center

Modern and modular technical equipment is available for research and development work. Depending on the needs and requirements individual systems and components are available. Hand in hand with adapted material formulations, complex process chains can be developed or even reproduced from lab to pilot plant scale.

  • Various twin-screw extruders:
    Screw diameter: 16 to 32 mm, process length: 36 to 60 D
  • Film extrusion line up to 200 mm width
  • Gravimetric feeders for the dosing of granules, powders and flakes from a few grams per hour up to more than 250 kg/h.
  • Feeders for fibers, gas dosing station for nitrogen, hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide, dosing systems for liquid and highly viscous media, liquid dosing for suspensions of nanoparticles
  • Melt filter systems
  • Ultrasonic and microwave application in extrusion
  • Process integration of inline analysis methods (viscosity, Raman and NIR spectroscopy, pressure, temperature, residence time)
  • Strand pelletizing, underwater pelletizing (also for the production of micro pellets) as well as hot die air pelletizing, variably applicable on all extruders
  • Various vacuum pumps based on water ring or rotary disc technology
  • Various systems for the production of filaments for 3D printing
  • Safety devices and exhaust systems for working with nanomaterials and hazardous substances on the extruder
© Fraunhofer ICT

Mechanical preparation pilot plant

Mechanical processing pilot plant with equipment for size reduction (<100µm to 50mm), sifting, sorting, classification and material characterization

Solvent-based recycling

  • Process development on laboratory scale (100 - 1000ml).
  • Small scale demonstration TRL 4-5 (5-10 kg),
  • Demo scale demonstration TRL 5-6 (20-50 kg)
  • Demonstration at industrial demo scale TRL 6 (100-1000 kg)

Kurtz WaveFoamer RF-C

Radio frequency-based particle foam molding machine

  • Energy efficiency: Energy consumption reduced by up to 90% compared to conventional steam-based molding machines (EPS)
  • Material diversity: Processing of technical polymers into particle foam components

Foam tandex -laboratory extrusion line

  • Foam tandex laboratory extrusion line ZE 30/KE 60
  • Foam extrusion line for the validation of recyclable polymers in the foam extrusion process.

Injection press assembly

Combination of hydraulic press and Bold-On injection molding unit for modular sampling of large-volume components with combined process technology as well as near-industrial automated production in a development environment.

Dieffenbacher CompressPlus DCP-G 3600/3200 AS

  • Clamping force up to 36,000 kN (parallel run controlled)
  • Mold installation height from 750 mm to 1,500 mm
  • Mold width max. 2,900 mm
  • Mold length max. 2.100 mm

Arburg SPE 4600

  • Screw diameters from 80 and 90 mm
  • metering volumes up to 2290 cm³
  • barrel temperature up to 450° C
  • Direct fiber feed
  • Eightfold cascade control
  • 64 zones hot runner control


  • Handling system 7-axis robot Kuka KR 210 R2700 Prime
  • IR heating field up to 1720 mm x 1450 mm and 500° C
© Fraunhofer ICT

Corporate Makerspace

Rapid development, iteration and conversion of ideas into prototypes using digital manufacturing

  • CAD, parametric design, 3D scanner
  • Additive manufacturing: FDM, SLA, SLS (including material development), paste printers.
  • Subtractive manufacturing: CNC milling, waterjet cutter, laser cutter, cutting plotter
  • Electronics workshop: IOT, microcontroller, sensors, actuators