SCHOTT solutions no. 1/2014 > Research And Development

The Otto Schott Research Center provides developers with an ideal infrastructure for advancing innovations. Photo: SCHOTT/A. Sell

Research for the Benefit of Progress

The Otto Schott Research Center has been actively pursuing application-oriented glass development for 25 years. Its multifunctional service center functions as a “think tank” for the company by driving innovative products and technologies and bringing them to market together with the operative Business Units.

Christine Fuhr

In quoting the British novelist John Galsworthy, the former SCHOTT Speaker of the Board of Management, Dr. Heinrich J. Klein, once said, ”If you don’t think about the future, you cannot have one,” on the occasion of laying the cornerstone for the Otto Schott Research Center in June 1987. SCHOTT management had indeed thought about its future – and taken action. At that time, the company invested approximately 50 million deutschmarks (25 million euros) in a future-oriented project: a research and development center that opened its doors in the fall of 1989 and was called the ”Otto Schott Research Center” in honor of the glass scientist and company founder.
For SCHOTT, networking also includes maintaining close ties to the research community. Many of the previous award winners were in attendance when the 10th Otto Schott Research Award was presented (photo) at company headquarters in Mainz. Photo: SCHOTT/A. Sell

1989: Starting out on a new scale

The SCHOTT Group has been committed to achieving top scientific and technological performances since the company was founded 130 years ago. ”Research was never an end in itself, but rather always directed at industrial practice in close cooperation with the operative units with respect to results and findings,” explains the SCHOTT Board Member responsible for R&D,
Dr. Hans-Joachim Konz. Here, the impressive new building added a completely new dimension with respect to the infrastructure for the employees in R&D who had been working in a laboratory building and at 14 other branch offices. The Research Center with 43,000 square feet of space housed modern laboratories and analytical devices, affiliated workshops, clean rooms and an 8,600-square foot experimentation hall. This created the ideal environment for the 100 researchers, engineers and application experts who initially worked there.

2014: Multifunctional service providers

Today, in the anniversary year, the Otto Schott Research Center presents itself as a multifunctional innovation and technology service center. Under its roof, you’ll also find an analytical and measurement technology service that has a command of more than
300 measurement methods and problem solving techniques for external clients and SCHOTT pharma services with analytical laboratory services specifically for pharmaceutical customers. The continued development of computer technology over the last 25 years has significantly changed how glass developers work. Nearly all relevant manufacturing processes can now be simulated extremely accurately on the computer, and material properties can be calculated very precisely in advance. This helps the researchers to perform development processes much more quickly and cost effectively and thus maintain and extend their development lead in competing internationally.

”As a results-oriented innovation partner to the SCHOTT Business Units, we open up new business opportunities and defend our position with respect to our current businesses by developing new materials and technologies,” explains Dr. Martin Heming, head of SCHOTT Research & Development. Megatrends such as conserving energy and resources will rank among the main drivers of innovation in the decade to come. ”Our research on materials is in great demand,” notes SCHOTT materials expert Dr. Matthias Bockmeyer. The company is currently developing opportunities in strategic fields such as thin, high-strength glasses; storage of energy for electric mobility; as well as resource efficiency in the area of melting technology; ”green” glasses; and enabling technologies for the development of new and improved existing products and functionalities.
Picture 1: Precise data is recorded at the measurement technology laboratory in order to be able to develop more advanced optical materials and components. Photo: SCHOTT/A. Stephan Picture 2: SCHOTT experts use nanoimprint technology to apply sophisticated surface structures to glass. Photo: SCHOTT/C. Costard Picture 3: Unique materials such as these ceramic platelets have high optical refractive indexes and exceptional dispersion values. Photo: SCHOTT/C. Costard Picture 4: SCHOTT uses equipment like the TOF-SIMS mass spectrometer to measure the surface properties of various types of glasses. Photo: SCHOTT/A. Stephan

Interview: Growth through Innovations

Global R&D network

The appropriate investments form the basis for successful research; SCHOTT’s share of R&D expenditures in relation to sales was 4.3 percent in fiscal year 2012/13 and was slightly higher than in past years. The global R&D network with its approximately 600 highly qualified employees also contributes significantly to the company’s power of innovation. It covers everything from the field of applied research to product development. The network stretches from Mainz and its R&D branch that was founded in Duryea/USA in 1969 to the Business Units’ R&D units, as well as to application centers in China, Korea and Japan.

The external network is also quite large and now includes more than 120 partners around the world. Close cooperation with universities and institutes and extensive support for young pro-fessionals by hosting doctorate theses and diplomas are but two key aspects. The Otto Schott Research Award, that has been awarded since 1991, many joint research projects and regular expert panels are yet other examples of global networking at SCHOTT. ”Immense development potential for innovations lies within our research center,” notes SCHOTT Research Fellow, Dr. Roland Langfeld. ”We want to leverage this potential in order to continue to ensure a high new product rate of 30 percent,” he adds. <

Highlights from 25 years of a ”glass laboratory”