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Small light smart products

Products of the future are small, light and smart

The products of tomorrow are smaller, lighter and smarter than ever. These products are developed using advanced technology, although ensuring the process is as it should be is not always easy. In 2018 Sirris launched the Product Development Hub, where competencies, knowledge and the most advanced technology are allowed to cross-pollinate, to provide consultancy services focused on the development of innovative physical products. At the Hub our experts help companies to quickly develop proofs of concept ready for Industry 4.0. The intensive collaboration of the various Sirris laboratories, each with their own expertise (composites, coatings, data innovation, mechatronics, etc.), results in light and smart micro-products. All manufacturing industries can count on the Product Development Hub, from start-ups and SMEs through to R&D departments at larger companies.

Micro-printing, from proof of concept to scaling

Miniaturisation broadens the horizons of industrial companies. The new products are more compact, more discreet, easier to handle, require less energy to manufacture, can be produced at a lower cost and can include specific features without requiring much space. However, optimising these microproducts requires specific knowledge, experience and high-tech infrastructure. The Product Development Hub, which combines specific expertise and equipment, provides optimal solutions for companies: development of ideas for microproducts or miniature components that require further details, drawing up a proof of concept, optimising the design or scaling production. The in-house microproduction expertise at the Product Development Hub means companies can be helped to complete every step successfully, from design to pre-production.

The Micro-Lab offers a complete service when it comes to expertise on printed electronics, whereby conductive connectors are printed directly using liquid ink on all types of substrates, even 3D.

Microdomain: four technical applications

Growth in the microdomain is driven by IoT applications and other connected and smart products, as has been demonstrated by Micro-Lab products throughout 2018.

Expertise in five micro-domains

Technologies and micro-manufacturing are developing at a very fast pace. The Sirris Micro department experts keep abreast of the latest technologies and participate in their development via research projects in the following domains:

  • Micro-processing
  • Micro-replication
  • Micro-printing
  • Micro-assembly
  • Micro-metrology

Lighter products using hybrid materials and composites

Demand is increasing for lightweight products and components in industries such as transportation, mechanical engineering, construction and consumer products. This demand is a response to social and technological trends in terms of energy efficiency, performance, freedom of form, functionality and long-term cost-effectiveness. Lighter products can be achieved by adapting the design or by using alternative, light-weight materials with the same properties, such as composite materials and hybrid materials.

Labs focus on the development of lighter products using other materials

Experts at the Sirris composite material laboratory work on innovations using fibre-reinforced plastics. The team of experts in composites co-operates with KU Leuven and the Ghent University on specific projects at SLC-Lab. This co-operation combines the efforts, expertise and infrastructure of all three partners. When developing composite products an infinite number of product geometries and material combinations are possible. A range of process technology can be applied. The objective of the SLC-Lab is to provide support when developing innovative composite products, including the corresponding prototypes. SLC-Lab also provides their expertise in monitoring and optimising production parameters. The composite lab moved to larger premises in 2018. Their new and extensive infrastructure provides more space for composite design, prototype building and process optimisation. 

The Hybrids Lab develops products using combinations of plastics and composites or metals. Their objective is the rational application of materials to make the end products as lightweight as possible. Using hybrid materials in a single product ensures the availability of properties and functionalities where required.

Stronger competitiveness based on smarter products

The development of smart, connected products, which are increasingly embedded in larger systems, creates new opportunities for manufacturers, drives radical transformations within companies which has an impact on their competitiveness. The Smart Connected Innovation Lab focuses on the development of smarter, more connected products. The experts have acquired experience in the underlying technology and in how to integrate this technology in a product.