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"The crucial factor is to bring these new technologies to the shop floor, in other words, use them," says Prof. Johanna Wanka, Germany’s Minister of Education and Research, and patron of Research & Technology. The world’s largest R&D trade show, which is an annual attraction at HANNOVER MESSE, is showcasing key technologies for tomorrow's manufacturing landscape, the majority of which are ready to use.

Automation is the driving force behind several special displays in Hall 2. At its joint pavilion, the Fraunhofer Adaptronics Alliance is showcasing new developments in oscillation damping and noise reduction. Adaptronics is increasingly being used in sound insulating cabinets, machine panels, and textile machines, as well as in structurally integrated damage monitoring, shape control, and precise positioning.

Two current examples: Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF have made elastomer more intelligent and taught it to actively form itself. The institute uses "dielectric elastomer" that changes shape under electric tension – predestining its use in creating actuators. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU along with industry partners were able to integrate a shape memory actuator into a ball screw. The smart gear varies its pretension intelligently by activating the actuator electronically with the heat that is created between the rolling contacts. This enables it to counter wear and tear independently.

The special Bionics display is also showcasing exciting solutions for industrial applications. Bionics applies findings from the world of nature to innovative technology. Well-known examples that are already in use include adaptive grippers that work like fins, and robots with "muscles" that allow for secure human-technology interaction. In addition to robotics, the range of this special display in Hall 2 includes functional surfaces, optical technologies, and communication and microsystem technology product solutions. The bionics skills network BIOKON is organizing the event, providing users with "entrepreneurial access to bionics along with leading researchers and experts."