Shape memory polymers

Shape memory polymers are programmable materials that have considerable potential for opening up new applications. The fact that they are able to thermoreversibly change shape after thermomechanical treatment, known as programming, makes them particularly attractive. The cyclical sequence of shape changes can, for example, make contributions in the field of robotics, as it enables self-sufficient systems that do not require external control and regulation technology.


Today, actuators that react to temperature changes can also be designed for a wide variety of purposes: For example, novel positioning systems can be designed, unfolding or folding structures can be built, or objects with so-called »morphing« surfaces can be manufactured.


Research | Development




4D printing: heat shrinks printed objects


Shape memory
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Are you interested in the potential of shape memory polymers and 4D printing?

Our services

Depending on the requirements, we carry out application-related synthesis work. With a view to sustainable and efficient production, we also use bio-based raw materials. We match the subsequent processing to our materials. We also adapt specific property profiles by means of compounding.
In accordance with the modular principle, a wide range of materials with diverse chemical and physical properties is thus available.

For the production of demonstrators and prototypes we use additive manufacturing (3D printing). Upon customer request, we qualify new materials for fused filament fabrication and open up new paths for the technical realization of filigree printed objects. Our research in 4D printing enables us to print objects from shape memory polymers, which react to changes in their ambient temperature with a predetermined shape memory effect after the printing process is completed.

We would be pleased to support you with our expertise!

Polymer Synthesis

  • Biobased monomers
  • Synthesis of shape memory polymers
  • Polyester synthesis
  • Synthesis of thermoplastic polyurethanes
    - Polyesterurethanes
    - Polyetherurethanes
  • Application-oriented material optimization

Polymer Processing

  •  Extrusion: production of
    - 3D printable filaments
    - Granulates, powders, tubes, foils
  • Compounding, Injection moulding
  • Foaming (chemical | physical)

Virtual Component

  • Creation of 3D models via
    computer-aided design (CAD)
  • Design of components for additive
  • Design of filigree structures
  • Reverse engineering

Additive Manufacturing

  • Fused filament fabrication (FFF process) using
    - Standard materials
    - Thermoplastic polyurethanes
  • Production of components with shape memory properties
  • Material-oriented process development
  • Testing of materials on FFF printers
  • Production of filigree print objects
  • Multi-material 3D printing
  • Components with
    carbon fiber reinforcement
  • Postprocessing of print objects
    - Removal of support structures
    - Post-treatment with a sandblaster
    - Laser engraving and cutting
  • 4D printing

Thermomechanical Treatment

  • Application-oriented adjustment of
    - Shape memory effects
      (1W, 2W, multiple)
    - Stress memory effects
      (1W, 2W, multiple)
  • Durability studies
  • Parameter studies


  • Chemical | Physical
  • Thermo-mechanical
  • Shape memory properties
  • Durability
  • Quality control


  • State of the art in technical and
    patent literature
  • Preparation of feasibility studies
  • Material and process development

Our research topics

We are researching complex structural components that connect themselves to each other, materials with self-healing properties and novel closure technologies. We are also pushing ahead with the development of printed objects that assemble or disassemble themselves. Although some of these applications may seem futuristic, it is always essential to consider concepts for reuse at the end of the life of a product equipped with a shape memory polymer.

With our expertise, we contribute to various projects in the »FRAUNHOFER CLUSTER OF EXCELLENCE PROGRAMMABLE MATERIALS CPM«. The mission of the cluster is »Design Materials to act like Machines«.  

Method for controlling shape memory

multifunctional polymer materials


Shape memory polymers
for orthodontics

Aligners for correction of malocclusions | IGF project (20400 BG)

Collaboration: Orthodontics Department at the University Hospital of Düsseldorf (UKD)