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Innovations «made by Empa» – Technology transfer for industrial partners

Empa has a long tradition of converting the results of its research and development activities into marketable products, with the help of its industrial partners. Knowledge dissemination and technology transfer are given the highest priority by the institution.

Innovative floor panels
In collaboration with Supramat-Swiss GmbH, Empa has developed easy to transport panels, that protect the ground.They have also optimized panels that prevent heavy equipment from sinking in mud. They make it easy to recover aeroplanes that came off the runway. More information can be found here.

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Compliant materials with a strong impact
The recent Empa spin-off Monolitix AG specialises in compliant mechanisms. These are frictionless and wear-free and are also lighter, more hygienic and cheaper than conventional joint mechanisms. They have an enormous range of potential applications in the most diverse fields. The new company's young entrepreneurs are now setting about breaking into the market with their first products. More information can be found here.

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Textile pressure ulcer prevention
Immobile patients are in constant danger of developing pressure ulcers on the skin. Empa, Schoeller Medical and the Swiss Paraplegic Centre have worked together to develop a special sheet that is gentle on the skin and helps to make patients more comfortable. More information can be found here.

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Aerogel-based plaster provides better insulation for old buildings
Old buildings are beautiful – and hard to insulate. Empa and the Swiss render manufacturer Fixit AG together developed a new Aerogel-based plaster that provides twice the insulation of currently used insulating renders.
More information can be found here.

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Monitor assesses the mobility of bed-ridden patients
A monitoring system became commercially available that will allow nursing staff to accurately record the mobility of bedridden persons. The system has been developed for the prevention of bedsores by Compliant Concept, a start-up at Empa’s glaTec technology center. More information can be found here.

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Real smart: protective clothing with built-in A/C
Empa has together with its industrial partner, unico swiss tex, developed a «smart» protective vest with an integrated cooling system. The first small series of the novel under-uniform protective vest will be produced in the near future. More information can be found here.

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Innovative incontinence briefs offer security in everyday life
Scientists at Empa have worked with the industrial partner Incosan GmbH to develop a multi-layer pad and special briefs to make daily life easier for people suffering from incontinence. The products recently came onto the market. More information can be found here.

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Improved ergonomics for wheelchair users

Empa engineers, together with the firm «r going», have succeeded in developing an ergonomic seat for electric wheelchairs which encourages the user to move around frequently. True to the motto «life is movement » the aim is to enhance the freedom of movement of wheelchair users with a range of disabilities. More information can be found here.

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Finest silk – purest gold
True luxury has only one color – gold. A nanometer-thin layer of pure gold now lends ties and pocket handkerchiefs that authentic gold sheen, thanks to a new Empa-developed process. The yarn, which is coated using a high-tech plasma process, is soft and easy to weave. It is also washing machine compatible. A limited number of gold ties will be placed on the market before Christmas, making a truly exclusive present. Further fashion accessories will follow in 2012. More information can be found here.

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  • Noise-quenching curtains
    Researchers at Empa, in cooperation with textile designer Annette Douglas and silk weaving firm Weisbrod-Zürrer AG, have developed lightweight, translucent curtain materials, which are excellent at absorbing sound. This is a combination that has been lacking until now in modern interior design. The new «noise-quenching» curtains have just gone onto the market. More information on the new curtains can be found here.

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  • Artificial turf with upstanding qualities
    Empa researchers and scientists from the «Institute for Rapid Product Development» at the ETH Zurich, together with TISCA TIARA, a Swiss manufacturer of artificial turf, and the German fiber manufacturer Schramm GmbH, have developed a novel fiber for use in making artificial turf. The bi-component fiber returns to an upright position again and again thanks to a “hard core” but its soft sheath prevents abrasions and grass burns when players fall or slide on the surface. The turf has already been laid on two football pitches in Switzerland. More information on the new artificial turf can be found here.

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  • Repairing spray coatings
    The maintenance interval of water turbines is determined by the degree of erosional wear which the blades suffer. Repairs are time consuming and expensive since dismantling and reassembling a turbine can take up to several months, depending on the type involved. The use of hard coatings increases the operating lifetime of the turbine blades but partial damage to the coatings frequently occurs. Empa and the firm Stellba Schweistechnik AG have together developed and patented a method of partially repairing these spray coatings of tungsten carbide composite material. The good results obtained in laboratory studies have been confirmed by practical tests on water turbines, and the method is now being used successfully in commercial applications.

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  • Two-component fiber improves the properties of concrete
    In a project supported by the Innovation Promotion Agency (CTI), a team of Empa scientists and their industrial partner, the fiber manufacturing company fibrotec ag, have developed an economical polymer fiber which can withstand high mechanical loads. They were assisted by a new production process which allows the manufacture of fibers made of two components. The core of the newly developed fiber is made of polypropylene (PP) whilst only the thin fiber sheath is made of a special, tailor-made polymer which is chemically and mechanically ideally suited for use in building materials using a cement binder. The bicomponent fiber is already commercially available and is produced by Brugg Seiltechnik Holding AG. More information on this product can be found here.

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  • DownMat – an air mattress filled with goose-down
    Top-level mountaineers climbing in extremely cold conditions at high altitude need not only a top-quality sleeping-bag but also a highly insulating mat to sleep on. In cooperation with the company Exped, Empa has developed a functional example of such a mat, consisting of goose-down filled air chambers which retain their shape under pressure. Measurements made at Empa showed that the thermal insulation of the new mats is 5 times better than conventional types. The idea was taken further by the outdoor-equipment suppliers Exped AG who, jointly with Empa, have applied for a patent. After further development the sleeping mat is now being produced commercially and is being sold very successfully under the brand name “DownMat“.

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  • Wireless sensor network
    The Stork Bridge in Winterthur was fitted with a total of seven sensors developed by Empa for long term testing purposes in the course of the EU project ”Sustainable Bridges“. The sensors monitor vibration levels in the bridge structure and other unusual mechanical behavior, and if necessary raise the alarm at Empa via a radio link and internet connection. The advantages of this remote monitoring system is that it is rapidly installed, very flexible and economic, since wireless sensors obviate the need for fitting the bridge with expensive cabling systems. The technology is now being commercialized by the Empa spin-off company DecentLab GmbH.

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  • PPMS-AFM – a high precision measuring instrument
    The PPMS-AFM is a high precision measuring instrument which unites surface analysis techniques on the nanometer scale with a device for measuring macroscopic properties, known as the PPMS® (Physical Properties Measurement System). The technology was developed at Empa and has been successfully transferred to the startup company NanoScan AG. In 2009 NanoScan began marketing the PPMS-AFM on a commercial basis under license to Empa. Since then the company has further developed the technology and is marketing the system internationally in collaboration with IONTOF, another of Empa’s industrial partners.

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  • Metallized fibers using low pressure plasma method
    At the end of 2007 Empa transferred the rights to its patent for a special fiber coating process to Tersuisse Multifils SA in Emmenbruecke, at the same time handing over its pilot plant to the company. The key to Empa’s success is a new fiber guidance system. On the one hand this allows a more rapid coating process and on the other it leads to the metal being applied more efficiently to yarns and fibers, which reduces the metal consumption. Both factors help to reduce manufacturing costs significantly, ensuring that in comparison to the conventional electrochemical process the advantages of the new technology take center stage. More information on this product can be found here.

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  • Cooling system for multiple sclerosis patients
    Empa scientists have developed ultra-light cooling garments for those suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS). Cooling trousers and shirts have been available on the market since April 2007, manufactured by Unico swiss tex GmbH, to whom Empa has transferred its patent. The small, innovative Swiss enterprise aims to market these products successfully in Switzerland, Germany and possibly even the USA. Cooling helps alleviate symptoms in 60 to 80 per cent of all MS patients.

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  • Jun Funori – Red algae for consolidating, aged and powdery painted surfaces
    Funori, an adhesive material prepared in Japan from red algae of the family Gloiopeltis, has sparked the interest of restorers of art works, because of its ability to consolidate and strengthen layers of paint which have become lackluster and powdery with age. As a natural product, funori comes in varying qualities, and to tackle this problem a special purification process was developed jointly by the ETH Zurich’s Institute of Historic Building Research and Conservation, Empa and the Conservation Center of the Swiss National Museum. The resulting pure material, known as JunFunori (jun = pure) is a standardized product which has been tested by experts over a period of years. JunFunori offers conservators an improved consolidating agent which allows them to repair aged and powdery painted surfaces without changing them visually. JunFunori is manufactured exclusively by the Lascaux company

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  • Zumikon Particle Separator
    There are many good reasons which make wood an environmentally friendly source of energy. In particular, the fact that it is a CO2 neutral, renewable resource is an important advantage. In order that the fine particulate emissions of wood burning appliances do not act as a brake on the further development of wood as a fuel, Empa in cooperation with the Swiss Federal Office of the Environment (FOEN) has pushed forward with the development of a particle separator for small wood burning stoves. The further development of the prototype into a market-ready product has been taken on by the firm Rüegg Cheminée AG, who now offer the finished product commercially on the internation market.

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Contact

Gabriele Dobenecker
Head Marketing and Technology transfer
Tel. +41 58 765 44 21
For more information, please send us an email


Technology Offer
Overview of the actual technology offers of Empa, that could be licensed.


Promoting start-ups 
glaTec - Technologiezentrum in Dübendorf
tebo - Technologiezentrum in St. Gallen


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Expert(s):
Marlen Mueller
Alexander Sutter
Monica Kalbermatter
Andreas Kuendig