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Review Hermes Award 2019

Velcro-like connector for universal use in electronics assembly: NanoWired wins HERMES AWARD 2019

This year’s HERMES AWARD, which ranks among the world’s most coveted technology prizes, goes to NanoWired GmbH for its innovative “KlettWelding” solution making it possible to easily assemble and connect electronic components at room temperature. The award was presented by Anja Karliczek, Germany’s Minister for Education and Research, at the official HANNOVER MESSE Opening Ceremony on 31 March.

NanoWired is a young startup based in Gernsheim, Germany. Its KlettWelding system is an ingenious process because it is fast and eco-friendly and produces permanent connections. It is also a world first in electronics manufacturing. The experts on the independent jury praised the solution as a first-rate innovation with a broad range of applications. Professor Reimund Neugebauer, president of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and chair of the jury, was particularly impressed: “The HERMES AWARD competition receives numerous outstanding applications, so the winning project really needs to demonstrate innovative future potential, a targeted approach to creating a solution that meets the end user’s needs, and evidence that the product is suitable for use in industrial applications,” said Professor Neugebauer. “This year’s winner is the first process of its kind in the world. It lends itself to a broad range of potential applications in multiple segments, including sensors, semiconductors, automotive systems and consumer goods, offering the ability to switch production processes from soldering to simply pressing components together at room temperature. What’s more, NanoWired’s process is cheaper than soldering and bonding and has already been applied successfully in almost twenty industrial projects.”

In order to enable the KlettWelding process, the surfaces of the electronic components to be connected are first coated with a Velcro-like layer of nano-sized metal wires. Components pre-treated in this way can then be connected simply by pressing them together, causing the nanowires to interlock and form a connection that – unlike an actual Velcro connection – is permanent and highly electrically and thermally conductive. Post connection, the bond between the components is highly resilient and able to withstand extreme temperatures, including heat levels well above those needed to destroy conventional solder or glue connections. KlettWelding is also more cost-effective than conventional connection processes and can be used in a wide range of applications in the sensor systems, semiconductor, automotive and consumer products manufacturing industries.

Nominees 2019

ABB, Ladenburg

ABB's nominated product, "NiTemp", is an innovative temperature measuring device that uses non-invasive sensor technology. In the process manufacturing industry, temperatures inside pipelines are generally measured invasively using in-built thermometers. This involves drilling a hole in the pipe and installing a protective cylindrical fitting known as a thermowell. NiTemp differs from this approach in that it reads the temperature at the pipe surface, thereby eliminating the need for process penetration and installation of thermowells. The technology delivers benefits in terms of safety, reliability, simplicity and ease of use, measuring accuracy, measuring range and response times. In addition, NiTemp devices can be installed without shutting down production, meaning they involve lower system costs and capital expenditure. The NiTemp technology has already proven itself in industrial use. It is intended primarily for the food and beverages industry, but also has applications in the gas and oil industry and in the chemicals industry.

ARKITE NV, Genk – Belgien

ARKITE's nomination is for "Human Interface Mate" (HIM), a new type of manufacturing operator guidance system that uses a projector to overlay assembly instructions onto work-pieces and equipment in real-time, provide guidance and warn of errors before they happen. The Innovative 3D object recognition technology that powers HIM guides the operator error-free through his or her work process, thereby increasing the efficiency, flexibility and quality of assembly processes and making hardcopy operating manuals, checklists and handwritten record-keeping a thing of the past. The modular, wizard-like nature of the HIM software makes it easy for project engineers to set up assembly projects; they don't even need any programming skills. The system's simplicity also reduces the training overhead for new employees or when introducing new products or variants, and makes setting up and commissioning new workstations significantly faster. HIM has applications in all industries that involve manual handling operations.