Tools, processes and prototypes for plastics forming

The forming of plastic is usually aimed at the production of large quantities, for example in the optical industry, for lighting and displays, or for diagnostic or therapeutic tools in medical technology. These applications require mass production of low-cost components manufactured with high precision. With this goal in mind, Fraunhofer IPT has been researching and developing various replication processes for plastic materials for many years.

Tool use, shape accuracy and surface quality determine component quality

Three influencing factors strongly determine the quality of the replicated components: the quality of the replication tool, the microscopic and macroscopic shape accuracy, and the surface. A central question is always how accurately and reproducibly the desired target contour can be produced. The manufacturing costs of the tool usually determine the limit here.

Injection molding or roll-to-roll: from mold making to small series production

Depending on the application, different manufacturing processes can be used. Fraunhofer IPT is working on classic injection molding and hot stamping processes as well as roll-to-roll processes such as R2R-NIL and R2R-Hot-NIL for film production. For injection molding, we develop entire molds and mold inserts and test new manufacturing approaches for small series. To avoid centering errors, especially in plastic optical components, we develop concepts to improve positioning accuracy in multi-step hot stamping and ensure uniform pressure on the surface.

For R2R processes, which can be used to produce large-area plastic films with a variety of functionalized structures, we manufacture rolls and embossing plates that are tested on our in-house equipment on behalf of customers. For both processes, we are continuously researching production-oriented and production-optimized tool concepts and manufacturing routes. In this way, we enable our partners to test new manufacturing approaches and facilitate their entry into new technologies.

Plastic presentation: diverse manufacturing processes for high-precision plastic products

From the design and construction of the tools, rollers and embossing plates, through process planning and optimization, to prototype production: we research and develop forming processes for a wide variety of plastic materials in close coordination with our customers and project partners.


Injection molding of plastic optics

The injection molding of optical components, which require high precision and defect-free surfaces, is a long-standing research topic at the Fraunhofer IPT.

Tool and mold making for injection molding

We manufacture injection molds and molds for plastic replication from the design and construction suitable for the product, through testing to the prototype of the desired component.

Forming of fiber reinforced plastics

Forming fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) requires special knowledge of the materials and processes used. We have been developing special industrial solutions for our customers for many years.



A promising field of application for injection molding and roll-to-roll applications – and their combination – are microfluidic systems used, for example, in medicine and biotechnology.


Multifunctional films in the roll-to-roll process

Roll-to-roll processes allow large-area films to be quickly and cost-effectively equipped with structures and functional elements.

Micro- and nanostructured surfaces

To provide technical surfaces with micro- and nanostructures, we use a variety of high-performance manufacturing processes, depending on the product requirements.