At once light, stable and environmentally friendly - from vehicle manufacturing to the construction of dentures, carbon is an ideal material. However, up to now the processing of carbon fibers has been very laborious. For complex, curved structures, the textile sheets often had to be cut and formed by hand.
For this reason, scientists of the TUM Chair of Carbon Composites have developed a fully automated production process in collaboration with industry partners. The “Fiber Patch Placement” technology increases the fabrication efficiency and reduces the amount of material required. Robots cut small individual pieces, called patches, from a fiber tape and additively place them to build the fiber product. A software calculates the best positioning and orientation of the patches. Since the carbon fibers are oriented along load paths, the technology also improves the mechanical properties of the products.
Headquarters on campus
In 2015 Thorsten Gröne, Felix Michl, Dr. Neven Majic, and their mentor Prof. Klaus Drechsler founded the company Cevotec GmbH, which is already offering development and prototyping services with Fiber Patch Placement and also intends to sell production systems from next year onwards. Today the company has 14 employees and has already generated more than €100,000 in turnover in the current year. Cevotec has its registered office at the Ludwig Bölkow Campus in Taufkirchen near Munich, where TUM works with companies and other universities on new technologies for aeronautics and aerospace.
The team was assisted by the TUM start-up consultation. At UnternehmerTUM, the Center for Innovation and Business Creation at TUM, the team participated in the programs "Kickstart", which provides support for the launch of new companies, and "TechFounders", which establishes contact to potential industry partners and investors and enables the use of the high-tech workshop "MakerSpace".
Sensors in the sole of a shoe
One floor above the "MakerSpace" is where Raphael Blistein, Maximilian Gloël, Benedikt Seitz and Romano Wolf were working on the foundation of their company evalu GmbH, up until a few weeks ago. They too brooded over more efficient processes, albeit in a completely different field: jogging.
The team has developed a training software program for runners. The difference to existing products is this: the app "evalu.run" is designed to give much more individualized recommendations for the users' running technique and thus make training healthier and more successful. To this end, sensors in an insole for running shoes report different data, such as how the force of the body is transferred to the ground. The program then issues an alert if, for example, the runner's knee joints are being burdened the wrong way.
Founders under one roof with scientists
After about two years of development time, the company - now consisting of nine people - intends to bring its app onto the market in early 2017. Shortly after completing their studies, the "founding four" had already decided to start their own company. Two of the founders had studied at TUM: Maximilian Gloël in Management & Technology, and Romano Wolf in Mechanical Engineering.
As a scientific partner and mentor, Ansgar Schwirtz, professor for Biomechanics in Sports, worked together with the start-up, which was also using the UnternehmerTUM programs. The necessary rooms were provided by TUM in the "Incubator", where teams work in the phase prior to the official foundation. There they can dialog "under one roof" with the scientists of the Entrepreneurship Research Institute and learn from their research results. Even current TUM students have been able to benefit from the setup: evalu has taken over the advisor role for several bachelor's and master's theses.