innovation Apr 15, 2014

Magic trick or top innovation?

Mr. Köpfer takes an inconspicuous piece of wire out of his briefcase which is bent into a particular shape. He deforms it with his hand, takes out a lighter and holds the flame to the piece of wire. As if by magic, it starts moving – and assumes its original shape.

Mr. Köpfer is an engineer and CEO of Actuator Solutions GmbH (ASG), headquartered in Treuchtlingen (Gunzenhausen). The scene I just described was not a visit to a magic show but rather my first professional contact with ASG during a traditional discussion. What seemed like a magic trick was in truth a physical phenomenon: a shape memory alloy, i.e. the metal thread made of nickel and titanium "remembers" the shape it was taught and returns to it when stimulated by electricity or heat.

ASG has developed a highly innovative product from this material which adds to image stabilisation and autofocus in mobile phone cameras while being much lighter and requiring less space. The result is a huge international market for the product.
The jury of the "Innovation prize of the WirtschaftsWoche" magazine was excited about this idea, too, and therefore awarded the prize to ASG in the SMEs category in April. Our warmest congratulations!

As a representative of Invest in Bavaria, I think this is the best example demonstrating why Bavaria as a business location is as successful in international competition as it is: technology transfer is lived here and innovations are put into practice for production!