Fraunhofer IMWS and 3D-Micromac win the 2018 TÜV SÜD Innovation Prize

Press release /

The Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems (IMWS) took 1st place in the TÜV SÜD Innovation Prize contest for 2018. The award, which includes a cash prize of 25,000 euros, was granted jointly to the Institute and 3D-Micromac AG for developing the microPREPTM sample preparation device. This device uses ultra-modern laser technology to prepare material samples more quickly and flexibly for microstructural analysis.

TÜV SÜD Innovationspreis Auszeichnung
© TÜV Süd AG/Uhlendorf
Prof. Thomas Höche from the Fraunhofer IMWS (1st from left) and Uwe Wagner, 3D-Micromac AG (2nd from left) are pleased about winning 1st place in the 2018 Innovation Prize, which TÜV SÜD awarded this year for the second time.

For accelerated material development and optimal quality control, many materials and components – for instance in automotive and consumer electronics – are studied down to the smallest detail using microstructural diagnostic techniques. Previously, producing samples with the right geometries for analysis by these technologies required elaborate preparation processes that were either too inflexible in terms of the shapes that could be created, or simply too slow and thus uneconomical. microPREPTM makes preparing the samples for microstructural diagnostics significantly faster and more reproducible because it uses a laser as a photonic tool.

The testing organization TÜV SÜD awarded this development 1st place in the TÜV SÜD Innovation Prize for 2018. The prize, which has now been awarded for the second time and provides the winners with a total of 50,000 euros, recognizes small and medium-sized enterprises that have worked with a research institution to jointly develop and successfully launch a product or service. The jury praised this innovative idea for its time savings, cost reduction and greater precision.

“We are extremely happy to have received this award. The TÜV SÜD Innovation Prize recognizes our intense joint efforts to develop a completely new series-manufactured product. Our device offers very high process stability and an intuitive user interface, setting new standards in the field of sample preparation for microstructural diagnostics. microPREPTM is a true multi-talent that we will keep developing for additional preparation workflows thanks to its modular structure,” says Prof. Thomas Höche, head of the “Nanomaterials and Nanoanalytics” group at the Fraunhofer IMWS and a co-developer of microPREPTM.

“The TÜV SÜD Innovation Prize is a great honor for us, because the microPREP™ falls outside our standard user market. The close cooperation with our partners from the Fraunhofer Institute is what made this development possible, since they are familiar with the market requirements for sample preparation. We contributed our many years of expertise in laser micromachining. As a result, we both created the basis for the microPREP™ and are continuously expanding its potential applications. This month we will be introducing a new device and new workflows at the Semicon West trade fair,” says Uwe Wagner, the Chief Technology Officer of 3D-Micromac.

The device uses the latest ultrashort-pulse laser technology to perform athermal laser machining. In other words, samples with pulse lengths in the picosecond range (one-billionth of a second) can be converted to suitable shapes and are not significantly heated by this method. The system can be used for machining semiconductors, metals, ceramics, glass and composite materials.

“The successful collaboration between research institutions and industrial partners is what drives innovation. I want to congratulate the team from the Fraunhofer IMWS and from 3D-Micromac AG on this award. The very successful device is an outstanding example of how small and medium-sized enterprises in particular can benefit from working with Fraunhofer,” says Prof. Ralf B. Wehrspohn, Director of the Fraunhofer IMWS.

Innovationspreis TÜV SÜD
© TÜV SÜD AG/Claus Uhlendorf
The second TÜV SÜD Innovation Prize was awarded in 2018.