Extract Category: Cover Story

Organic Electronics

Learning from Nature - Windows Collect Power

What if cars were to get their power directly from the sun? What if balcony windows were to run refrigerators? Or if living room wallpaper could be transformed into a tropical paradise with roaring surf at the touch of a button? This is to be realized with a relatively new technology: Organic electronics, a technology which an innovative network of more than 1,000 researchers and engineers is currently investigating in East Germany, primarily in the Saxon state capital Dresden.
But what makes this new technology so special? Well, classic computer chips consist of hard silicon, and the same is true for the fancy light emitting diodes which we see in the taillights of cars or in modern flashlights. Unlike their organic brothers and sisters: They’re made from elastic, very often also transparent organic molecules such as those which are found in similar form in rubber or plastic foil.

Applying the Chlorophyll Principle to Harness Energy
Similar to chlorophyll which makes plants green and allows them to harness energy for their metabolism from sunlight, organic solar cells are able to generate electric power from light. And this process is also reversible: Organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) emit a very pleasant sun-like light if an electric current is applied. Even though they are not quite as fast as computer processors made from silicon, they do have another advantage: Since they are flexible, they can be mass printed, for example, in large newspaper printing centers. This would permit electronic cinema tickets to show film trailers, innovative travel vouchers to play videos of the booked holiday destination, or animated advertisements on shopping bags.

Dresden Technology in OLED Smartphones
Until it is so far, the Dresden researchers and engineers together with their partners in Asia and the USA need to solve a number of problems; for example, reducing the production costs, increasing the life cycle of organic lights and electronics, and developing the technology further. Yet the first applications for organic screens were already found a long time ago: Just think of the neat ultra-thin OLED TVs which were recently introduced at trade shows by such electronic enterprises as LG. Or think of Samsung’s smartphone Galaxy S 3 with its flat, high-contrast, and colorfast display that has attracted a lot of fans.
Many of these new products contain components and expertise from the Dresden-based organic cluster. One of the most successful companies in this cluster is the Novaled corporation. It supplies large industrial groups such as Samsung or LG in the Far East with recipes and materials for organic screens. And it’s not just Novaled which anticipates substantial increases over the next couple of years. “The sales markets are currently expanding exponentially,” assessed the semiconductor association SEMI Europe recently. For 2020, the association anticipates a global market volume of approximately 20 billion dollars for such OLED products as organic smartphones, TVs, or lights. In contrast, organic photovoltaics is still in its infancy. But it also allows investors and analysts to have spectacular visions of the future. Its market volume could increase to about 630 million dollars by 2020, the analysts of the Cambridge-based consulting firm IDTechEx predict.
This is where the Dresden-based Heliatek corporation is a technological pioneer. Heliatek is currently building an innovative factory in Dresden in which flexible and transparent organic solar cells will be produced on printing rolls in a vacuum process. In contrast to classic photovoltaic modules which are dependent on rigid silicon or glass substrates, the organic current collectors made by Heliatek are steamed onto flexible foils. They are ultra-thin, adapt themselves to virtually any form, can be produced transparently, and dyed in line with the actual fashion trend. Their master builders have skyscrapers in mind with glass facades covered with transparent solar cells allowing them to meet their own power needs.

Organic Cluster Is among the World’s Best
In Saxony, about 40 companies and 17 research institutions are working on organic electronics, OLEDs, organic solar technology, and printed computer chips today. They include highly specialized supply firms which manufacture globally unique OLED equipment, such producers of large-format plastic screens as Plastic Logic, but also such think tanks as the Fraunhofer institutes or Dresden University of Technology.

Heiko Weckbrodt

Photo: Baldauf & Baldauf/Heliatek GmbH

Extract Category: Skilled Employees for Saxony

Chemnitz Is Booming

In September 2008, an internet portal bearing the name “Chemnitz is booming!” commenced, i.e. www.chemnitz-zieht-an.de, with the objective of bringing skilled professionals (back) to the region in order to, above all, help meet the need for employees arising from highly qualified vacancies.

The portal not only addresses former citizens of Chemnitz who are contemplating a return to their hometown, but also commuters and those willing to move here who are looking for a job.
The portal which had been launched by the Economic Development Corporation of Chemnitz City (CWE) doesn’t just showcase the job openings available at the currently 29 participating companies but also takes the specific circumstances of the interested persons into consideration. That’s why such topics as accommodation, culture, and family friendliness in Chemnitz are also available in a clear and easy to find manner. This combines the benefits of living and working here with the advantages of the respective employer because both aspects are important for job seekers.

A Strong Partnership for the Region
The partner companies of the project are, thus, an essential and active component not only because they have commissioned the CWE to launch the campaign to bring qualified employees to the region, but also because they have financed half of the project’s budget. In other words, every euro which the companies have contributed is also matched by the CWE. That’s why the Chemnitz region is being promoted together. Communication measures such as, for example, radio and billboard advertisements for the Easter and Christmas seasons also
contribute towards the regional portal’s nationwide reach to recruit skilled professionals.
So far, more than 1,400 inquiries from qualified applicants have been forwarded via the portal directly to the respective companies. More than 1,200 of the vacancies posted by these companies were filled. Since the portal was launched, more than 2.6 million hits have been registered from a total of 170,000 visitors of which nearly half were returning visitors.

Photo: CWE - Chemnitzer Wirtschaftförderungs- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH

Extract Category: Technical Textiles

Guaranteed Exclusive

A new image was overdue, they concluded. Three young Dresdeners wish to make concrete suitable for living rooms. With their furniture, they present the material in a fashion it’s not been seen before.

Their hobby has evolved into the “Paulsberg” corporation which is named after a vineyard in Radebeul bearing the same name.
In a garage, Knut Krowas and Mark Offermann drew their first designs for the “Spurt” lounge chair in 2009. Its unusual shape is modeled after a sprinter about to start a race. Two years later, they founded their own company together with Lars Schmieder; currently, the team has grown to six people. “Concrete lives” is their motto. With the help of TUDALIT®, a composite material made from a carbon textile and finegrain concrete that was developed at the Technische Universität Dresden [Dresden University of Technology], they create furniture with thin walls, low weight, and unconventional design. “The TU Dresden worked on the material for twelve years. We got the exclusive right to use it in the furniture sector,” notes architect Mark Offermann. It’s actually a win-win situation for both sides: “Paulsberg” has the foundation for its existence, and the university benefits from the dissemination of its invention.

Handmade One Layer at a Time
Finished furniture and models, including the original fiberglass mold of the “Spurt,” stand in a gray-tiled factory hall located in Southeastern Dresden. A roll of carbon gauze lies in a corner next to bags of cement. A golden cement mixer catches the viewer’s attention. It’s not for work, but decoration explains Offermann. At trade shows, cotton flows out of it – it’s supposed to symbolize light and airiness. An old kneading machine from a large bakery stands next to a countertop with different plastic containers. That’s the real cement mixer at “Paulsberg.” While Knut Krowas and Mark Offermann are constantly developing new ideas and creating new designs in an office located in the city center, the workshop is the place where the abstract becomes concrete and the prototypes are created. Mass production has been carried out by external partners for a while now – naturally, at the highest quality standards. They apply thin layers of concrete onto the models by hand, spread the carbon textile on top, and cover this again with another layer of concrete. The advantage of the material is that it doesn’t rust. While steel as a reinforcement element has to be encased by at least four centimeters of concrete to prevent air from reaching it, textile only needs to be covered by a two millimeter layer to solidify it and at the same time make it flexible.
Frost and moisture cannot harm the furniture. They also pass the muster on patios and squares just like they recently did in front of the Saxon State and University Library (SLUB). In May 2013, the first SLUB lounger was installed there. More are to follow on the entire campus of the Technical University with the help of sponsors.
“It took us some time to understand the material and to optimize production,” says Knut Krowas. With his school friend Mark Offermann, the designer experimented with the composite material ini tially on the weekends. At some point, though, the time was right for founding the company “Paulsberg” and establishing a real production hall. Foil divides a corner of the room provisionally from the rest. The humidity is higher here so that the furniture can dry slower. “This prevents cracks,” explains Krowas.
After drying, the tables, benches, and chairs are sanded and waxed. Combined with wood and leather, interesting contrasts are created. If so specified, the boys will also add color pigments; thus, breaking with the notion that concrete has to be gray. Material induced lime efflorescence turns the pieces into a one of a kind item. Depending
on the piece of furniture, production takes about four weeks. That comes, naturally, at a price: The 30 kilogram “Spurt” costs, for example, 2,100 euros. “The price is only secondary for those who know how the pieces are produced,” says Mark Offermann. The desire for individuality favors the “Paulsberg” team. “People want to be different from their neighbors, also when it comes to interior design,” notes the 32 year old. The cool and minimalistic style is particularly popular in Northern Europe. Inquiries have come, though, from all over the world. (Excerpt)

Marita Lau and Claudia Kaesler


Extract Category: Upper Lusatia

Plastics Technology

Every day, we encounter it: Plastic, an integral component of our lives. The plastics industry is a key industrial branch both in Germany and Saxony.

It has a long tradition in Upper Lusatia. Former button factories became ultramodern plastics enterprises which produce multifaceted plastic and rubber molded parts with state-of-the-art technologies. They are found, for example, in hoses, in plastic pipes and tubes, in glove compartments and cup holders for motor vehicles, in housings for medical instruments, or in mirror cabinets. And baby items, electric outlets, food packages as well as many other products all contain rubber and plastic parts “Made in Upper Lusatia.”
Approximately one fourth of the companies active in Saxony’s plastics industry are located in Upper Lusatia. The plastics industry, which employs a total of about 2,500 people, is the region’s third largest employer in addition to the metal processing and construction branches. Its enterprises are often family owned and operated, small and medium sized, with a staff of five to 200 employees.
When it comes to processing plastics, Upper Lusatia’s plastics industry can offer its customers all technological production procedures. The exceptional knowledge, high processing quality, and superbly educated employees found here all safeguard and assure the success of companies in Germany and throughout Europe.

The Entire Range from One Region
The plastics processing enterprises and their partners from toolmaking and mold construction create a very promising economic potential as suppliers or end producers – virtually all industrial sectors rely on the innovative, premium quality products made by Upper Lusatian plastics processing enterprises. The companies provide their customers with solutions ranging from individual items to mass production all the way to the development of components and systems.
In order to stay competitive on the market also in the future, the plastics industry focuses on the research and development of new products and procedures. Specific emphasis is also put on the promotion of young professionals and specialists with the objective of safeguarding and assuring both the region’s and the branch’s future alike. In order to reach this goal, the companies are actively participating in an educational and training initiative which is unique in all of Germany: The educational center POLYSAX Bildungszentrum Kunststoffe GmbH corporation in Bautzen.

Multifaceted Educational Options for Specialists
Not only the POLYSAX Bildungszentrum Kunststoffe GmbH corporation is unique, but also its origin. Here in Upper Lusatia, the Saxon business community and business-related companies actually initiated the POLYSAX center which was established in 2009. After construction of the Technical Center had begun on the premises of the Bautzen-based joint vocational training facility in 2010, the ultramodern Technical Center building was officially inaugurated in the presence of the Saxon Minister President Stanislaw Tillich already in early 2011. A total of approximately 3.6 million euros were invested into this building project.     
“Our most important tasks are to recruit young people, spark their interest in the branch, educate them in a sophisticated manner, and retain them here in the region,” Jörg Schicktanz, Voluntary Managing Director, explains the objectives of the POLYSAX Bildungszentrum Kunststoffe GmbH corporation. Together with the Job Center and the Employment Agency in Bautzen, the company specifically supports adolescents and adults who are in an employable age and wish to complete their general or continued education at the Technical Center. Career orientation courses, open house days, trade show presentations, and plant visits not only permit pupils to gain already their first professional experiences, but also help establish contacts between companies and potential job seekers. (Excerpt)


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