Shape memory polymers

Are you looking for a reliable and trustworthy partner to carry out an R&D project? Do you have a business idea related to shape memory polymers and want to take it forward? Are you interested in parts of one of your products to deform when heated or autonomous movement of parts by changes in temperature?

"Then you have come to the right place!"

Every innovation starts with an idea. Nothing has driven us as much in recent years as the need to satisfy our customers and add value to society with our research. This has led us to continuously develop our knowledge and skills in chemistry and technology.

We recognized the potential of shape memory polymers early on and would like to share our knowledge with you. Profitability of shape-memory materials can be achieved in various applications, offering solutions to many different industries!


Research | Development




Smart materials for aligner therapy


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

If you need a new type of polymer, we select the appropriate raw materials for you and carry out the synthesis work. Our specialty is thermoplastic polyurethanes, whose properties we adjust to meet your needs. With a view to sustainable production, we select raw materials based on the data available to us so the carbon footprint is kept as low as possible.

Are you interested in the field of polymer processing? We are familiar with extrusion processes and use compounding to optimize properties.

Are you looking for innovations regarding polymeric foams? We are delighted to help you with our expertise in reactive foaming processes.

Do you need assistance in additive manufacturing? In three-dimensional (3D) printing, we are experts in fused filament fabrication (FFF), also known as fused deposition modeling (FDM). We tailor polymer materials to your requirements and produce 3D objects for you. With our expertise in so-called 4D printing we open our technology to future applications by integrating the shape memory functionality directly in the additive manufacturing process. This allows our objects to be thermoresponsive directly after manufacturing, saving valuable resources and speeding up the implementation process.

Polymer Synthesis

Adjustment of physical and functional property profiles for

  • (bio-based) polyesters
  • polyurethanes: polyester and polyether urethanes
  • PU-based foams with shape memory properties

Polymer Processing

  • granules, powders, tubes, films
  • fused filament fabrication (FFF)
  • objects with programmable material
  • polyurethan-based foams
  • materials with dual stimuli-responsiveness

Virtual Component Design

  • 3D models (CAD)
  • components for additive manufacturing
  • filigree structures
  • design for assembly, design for repair
  • design for recycling

Additive Manufacturing

  • fused filament fabrication of
    - standard materials (PLA, etc.)
    - thermoplastic polyurethanes
  • demonstrators
  • filigree printed objects
  • programmable materials
  • objects with one-way and two-way shape memory properties
  • objects with drastic shrinkage behavior
  • multi-material printing
  • components with carbon fiber reinforcement
  • postprocessing of print objects
    - removal of support structures
    - post-treatment with a sandblaster
    - laser engraving and cutting

Thermomechanical Treatment

  • application-oriented adjustment of
    • shape memory effects
        (1W, 2W, multiple)
    • stress memory effects
        (1W, 2W, multiple)
  • temperature memory effects
  • durability studies
  • parameter studies



  • physical
  • chemical
  • thermo-mechanical
  • shape memory properties
  • durability
  • recyclability


  • state of the art in technical and patent literature
  • material and process development
  • feasibility studies


Discover the results of our research and development in detail.

Our research topics

We are researching new polymer materials for the energy transformation and designing solutions for mobility, fire protection, product protection and soft robotics. We are very familiar with innovative assembly and disassembly concepts. Our functional integration processes can be used in applications such as personalized medical technology.

Together with our partners, we are developing "Programmable Materials", which have considerable potential as drivers for new technological developments. With our expertise, we contribute to various projects in the »FRAUNHOFER CLUSTER OF EXCELLENCE PROGRAMMABLE MATERIALS CPM«.

In short – shape memory polymers are our passion!

Project Selection

functional polymers

Equipment investment for research, development and innovation | EFRE (InfraFEI)

Devices for shaping and characterizing shape memory polymers.



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

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

Space technology

Development of ultra-thin solar modules and polymer materials for hinges from shape memory polymers in 4D printing | ProFIT project, ILB (85062983)

Literature - Highlights

Polymer Synthesis

D. Schönfeld, D. Chalissery, F. Wenz, M. Specht,C. Eberl, T. Pretsch

Actuating Shape Memory Polymer for Thermoresponsive Soft Robotic Gripper and Programmable Materials. Molecules. (2021)

M. Walter, K. Lengsfeld, D. Borschewski, S. Albrecht, P. Kölsch, T. Pretsch, M. Krus, S. Lehmann-Brauns

Shape Memory Polymer Foam for Autonomous Climate-Adaptive Building Envelopes. Buildings. (2022)

Polymer Processing

M. Walter, F. Friess, M. Krus, S. M. H. Zolanvari, G. Grün, H. Kröber, T. Pretsch

Shape Memory Polymer Foam with Programmable Apertures. Polymers. (2020)

D. Schönfeld, S. Koss, N. Vohl, F. Friess, D. Drescher. T. Pretsch

Dual Stimuli-Responsive Orthodontic Aligners: An In Vitro Study. Materials. (2023)

D. Chalissery, T. Rümmler, F. Ziervogel, C. Eberl, T. Pretsch

Harnessing length and height changes in thermoresponsive programmable materials. Programmable Materials. (2023)

Virtual Component Design

D. Chalissery, T. Pretsch, S. Staub, H. Andrä

Additive Manufacturing of Information Carriers Based on Shape Memory Polyester Urethane. Polymers. (2019)

Additive Manufacturing

D. Schönfeld, D. Chalissery, F. Wenz, M. Specht, C. Eberl, T. Pretsch

Actuating Shape Memory Polymer for Thermoresponsive Soft Robotic Gripper and Programmable Materials. Molecules. (2021)

D. Chalissery, D. Schönfeld, M. Walter, I. Shklyar, H. Andrae, C. Schwörer, T. Amann, L. Weisheit, T. Pretsch

Highly Shrinkable Objects as Obtained from 4D Printing. Macromolecular Materials and Engineering. (2021)

D. Chalissery, D. Schönfeld, M. Walter, F. Ziervogel, T. Pretsch

Fused Filament Fabrication of Actuating Objects. Macromolecular Materials and Engineering. (2022)

Doctoral thesis by Dilip Chalissery

Fused filament fabrication to manufacture three- and four-dimensional objects made of shape memory polymers. (2023)

Thermomechanical Treatment

N. Mirtschin, T. Pretsch

Designing temperature-memory effects in semicrystalline polyurethane. RSC Advances. (2015)

N. Mirtschin, T. Pretsch

Programming of One- and Two-Step Stress Recovery in a Poly(ester urethane). Polymers. (2017)

Further Information

T. Pretsch, Formgedächtnispolymere, in Smart Materials (Ed.: H. Boese), Vogel Communications Group, 2023, pp. 227-259.