Promising acquisition of Empa spinoff CTsystems

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Industrial hope: electroactive polymers in a unique stacked design. Image: Daetw

Industrial hope: electroactive polymers in a unique stacked design. Image: Daetwyler Holding Inc.

The Empa spinoff CTsystems AG is acquired by Daetwyler, a company specializing in elastomer components. The partners see great market potential for a wide range of applications in industrial-scale stack actuators, the development of which once began at Empa.

With the acquisition, several patents will switch to Daetwyler Holding Inc. in Altdorf, which has already been cooperating closely with CTsystems AG since 2018. Electroactive polymers in a unique stacked design enable many new applications, for example in future vehicles, according to experts.

Basically, electroactive polymers convert electrical energy into finely adjustable and highly versatile mechanical movements through elastic deformation. The advantages of the new technology include low energy consumption, fewer mechanical parts, low weight and volume, a robust and durable design, and silent operation with sensor and haptic feedback functionality.

According to Daetwyler, the stacked electroactive polymers offer a variety of novel actuator and sensor applications. For example, they can be used to control switches, interlocks, valves and to operate pumps. Applications include temperature management in electric car batteries and control of mechanically moving parts.

Electroactive polymers can also be used to provide haptic feedback and morphing surfaces for applications at the human-machine interface. Examples include feedback on displays and on the steering wheel or other control elements.

Daetwyler CEO Dirk Lambrecht is optimistic about the prospects. "Our electroactive polymers in a unique stacked design are a promising technology for the future," he explains in a media release, "I am convinced that the technology with electroactive polymers has the potential to become one of our top-selling product lines in the long term."

From CTsystems’ perspective, this acquisition has created a unique constellation that sets the industrialization of this technology on a promising path under a Swiss company with extensive experience and capabilities.

For the market launch, Daetwyler is currently working on setting up a specially developed, highly automated production facility at its existing Swiss plant. Delivery of the first industrial prototypes is planned for early 2024, according to the company.

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