Oliver Fischer (Prym), Manfred Mattulat (Steinbeis), Raphaela Homann (Prym), Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. mult. Johann Löhn (Steinbeis), Prof. Dr.-Ing. Wolfgang Nendel (Steinbeis), Prof. Dr. Michael Auer (Steinbeis), Mirko Spieler (Steinbeis), Jürgen Burkert (Prym) (v.l.n.r.)

Manual Production? Complex Automation!

Chemnitz-based Steinbeis researchers and Prym Consumer Europe GmbH receive the 2017 Transfer Award of the Steinbeis Foundation – Löhn Award

There is growing demand for solutions with a “hand made” label and although this trend continues unabated, it is by no means a shortterm phenomenon; if anything this is a long-term trend. This resulted in Prym Consumer Europe from Stolberg joining forces with the Steinbeis Research Center from Chemnitz, Automation in lightweight construction processes (ALP). Their joint development project has now earned them the Lohn Award.

The aim of the two project partners was to develop a complex automation system for manufacturing circular knitting needles. After examining fundamental material issues, the team developed new components, designed new parts, and successfully established a new production technique that makes it possible to completely automate a process that had previously been entirely manual.

The extensive experience of the experts at the ALP research center in Chemnitz played a pivotal role in the development, especially when it came to automating the plastic processing of flexible materials. The process of transferring the findings of fundamental research carried out at the Institute of Lightweight Structures (TU Chemnitz), which worked on the project alongside the ALP Steinbeis Research Center, was also described as exemplary. The end product itself is also highly innovative. It has already allowed Prym to win the Red Dot Design Award for the redesigned external properties of their circular knitting needles, the ergonomic handling of the knitting process, and the introduction of premium-quality steel wire to replace the previously used plastic wire.

It was only possible to implement the project thanks to close collaboration between the specialists working in industrial tool design, manufacturing processes, and product development. Winning the Transfer Award for the project is a testament to the outstanding achievements of Prym and the ALP research center in working alongside Chemnitz University of Technology to transfer research findings into serial production processes.


Mirko Spieler, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Wolfgang Nendel
Steinbeis Research Center Automation in lightweight construction processes (ALP) (Chemnitz)