The future belongs to SmartLabs

Flexible, communicative and digitally connected: SmartLabs is a new concept from the Technical University (TU) of Dresden. Updating traditional fixed installations and unconnected instruments, this modular laboratory can be changed at any time and shows what’s possible with digital transformation.

The laboratory time capsule

In many laboratories, time sometimes stands still. Workflows are paper-based, few instruments are connected, and tables, structures, and accessories are fixed – the built-in kitchen model, which can remain in place for decades. Laboratory workstations are one of the most expensive investments for companies and institutions, which can take up to 30 years to recoup. For lab managers, this means they are likely to see a new laboratory just once in their careers. But even a new laboratory can quickly become obsolete because of the continuous change in research content and requirements.

The SmartLabs solution

The era of the flexible laboratory is already here. Researchers at TU Dresden have developed a modular SmartLabs solution, featuring a highly adaptable infrastructure for both physico-chemical and bio-technical requirements. This involves the flexible docking of mobile "laboratory combs" with integrated instruments and diverse functional areas to a fixed island bench.

For the laboratory scientist, this enormously reduces the time spent on searching, preparing and following up, which generally takes up 70 % of their working time. The comb concept can also achieve a 33 % higher space gain, creating a third more workspace in the same area.

Modern laboratory equipment on a white table unit

Smart function and modern design

The new comb laboratory environment is digital, miniaturized and automated, using instruments with smart functions. They are intelligently connected via electrical and data links, and are a key part of the whole AI network. In practice, this means a self-designed SmartLabs plug-and-play system.

Since the rolling benches must fulfill the high material standards of chemical and biological laboratories, the TU Dresden engineers chose SCHOTT NEXTREMA® for the surfaces. NEXTREMA® glass-ceramic is suitable for all functionalities of the individual honeycomb concerning temperature and chemical resistance, and also offers a modern frameless design, which is ideal for the esthetic honeycomb model.

1 Applies to NEXTREMA® transparent. Tested by quenching a homogeneously heated NEXTREMA® transparent panel (820°C) with room temperature water (20°C). Values may differ for other NEXTREMA® variants.
2 Applies to NEXTREMA® opaque white for 1 hour at 950°C homogenous heating. For inhomogeneous heating and other NEXTREMA® variants, the operating temperature may vary.



The self-design laboratory

The SmartLab laboratory enables companies and institutions of all types and sizes to translate their needs into reality. This custom-made laboratory allows scientists to concentrate on what’s important, expanding as companies move from startup to global organization.

With SmartLab’s inventors working on issues such as sustainability, re-use and recycling, this young laboratory solution is ready to come of age and set out towards the future. The first show lab has been implemented at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park (HKSTP), with more following in Dresden, Duisburg, and Berlin in Germany.

1 Applies to NEXTREMA® opaque white for 1 hour at 950°C homogenous heating. For inhomogeneous heating and other NEXTREMA® variants, the operating temperature may vary.

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"With our SmartLab concept, we have deliberately chosen a broad range of materials: not only must they be chemically resistant, but also impact-resistant and temperature-resistant, and to a high standard too. Using NEXTREMA® as a laboratory bench covering meets these criteria to the highest level. The glass-ceramic also offers a great feel and a high-end look. We received great support for our project far beyond the sampling stage."
Dr. Felix Lenk
Head of the SmartLab systems research group, Technical University Dresden
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"We are delighted to be a part of this pioneering laboratory concept with our NEXTREMA® glass-ceramic. The use of NEXTREMA® in this laboratory application shows just how much potential the material has."
Roberto Perez Castro
Head of Product Management SCHOTT NEXTREMA®


Glass made by

Execution by
Technical University Dresden

Images and Videos: NIKYANG, SCHOTT

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oberto Perez Castro, Head of SCHOTT NEXTREMA® Product Management
Roberto Perez Castro

Head of NEXTREMA® Product Management