We develop groundbreaking paper-based solutions for tomorrow’s world
Koehler Innovation & Technology is a highly specialized team of researchers and developers with innovation at its heart. Every day, we make exciting discoveries that break new ground in our field.
Our team of over 100 experts combines theoretical and applied research and pioneering techniques to develop the technologies we need to produce sustainable paper-based solutions for the future. By designing products and processes for the circular economy, we are working to make the world a better, more sustainable, place. That’s our motivation – each and every day.
We create sustainable products for tomorrow’s circular economy. Thanks to our open-plan workspace, creative environment, diverse culture, and agile organizational structure, we are able to think outside the box and create truly innovative solutions. We like to think differently. We think in systems and cycles.
Our systematic innovation process for a sustainable future
We build on sustainable raw materials from responsible sources to create a better world for our children. This is part of our sustainability strategy.
Not every raw material can be used naturally. We modify the raw materials depending on the application in order to achieve optimal performance under the highest sustainability aspects.
Lab work / Formulation
In the laboratory, we adjust fibers and coating materials in such a way that they meet the highest product requirements and perform optimally in the entire value-added system - right up to the end of the life cycle. With comprehensive analysis and characterization technologies we accompany the development from the raw material to the finished product, its application and recycling.
The in-house pilot coating machine enables us to prepare the upscaling process for the production plants in such a way that numerous production tests can be saved and products can also be tested and technologically supported at all stages of the value chain.
Our paper mills have ultra-modern, individually developed production facilities that set the benchmark in their niches. They cover all stages of the value chain, from paper production through finishing and packaging to waste water treatment and energy generation - of course under the premise of maximum efficiency and environmental compatibility.
The product is converted at the customer. We are in close contact with our end customers and include customer feedback, optimization suggestions and new trends in our innovation roadmap to support our customers in their sustainability development.
The product is further processed by the customer. We are in close contact with our end customers and include customer feedback, optimization suggestions and new trends in our innovation roadmap to support our customers in their sustainability development.
We also stand by our customers during the consumption phase of the product and include customer feedback, optimization suggestions, optimization approaches and new trends in our innovation roadmap in order to support our customers in their sustainability development.
Collecting and sorting
Our paper has been developed to be fed back into the waste paper stream as a valuable material or raw material in order to produce new paper qualities from them. In order to allocate them to the correct waste paper quality, we also check our paper qualities for their behavior in collection and sorting systems.
Waste paper plant
Our paper is evaluated according to the established paper recycling test methods at accredited test institutes. In addition, we are proactively investigating recyclability on a pilot and production scale with external partners and in our own plants, such as at our Koehler Paper site in Greiz, which is specialized in high-quality recycled paper. In this way, we can reprocess our own waste internally into high-quality waste paper and close the cycle.
Green Coating Collaboration
The Green Coating Collaboration is a bilateral research cooperation within the framework of a Living Lab of Koehler Innovation & Technology and the TU Darmstadt. In the Green Coating Collaboration, we conduct basic research, i.e. research with a focus on sustainable, bio-based raw materials for barrier coatings. With it, we look to the future and at the same time accelerate research periods by symbiotically combining basic research (GreCoCo) and industrial research (KIT).
External partners from bioeconomy
We work along the value chain with partners who share our vision of a sustainable world and are willing to break new ground. Our goal is to develop more sustainable raw materials from responsible sources and make them available to the value chain in the form of sustainable products.
Not every raw material can be used naturally. Bio-based raw materials in particular have to be processed and modified for paper production so that they perform optimally and meet our requirements for biodegradability. We implement this independently, but also together with our partners.
Analyzing, advising, projecting and procuring
Together with our internal customers, we analyze their requirements and develop tailor-made and targeted solutions. Together with the procurement groups, we ensure the economical and successful implementation of the projects.
We have experts on board for all relevant specialist topics. The in-depth knowledge of our systems and infrastructure at our locations enables us to develop target-oriented solutions. In addition, we have a broad network of external partners at our disposal.
We work with high quality standards. Our goal is the greatest possible system availability and long-term value retention. Through intensive cooperation with all project participants, we develop technically sensible, high-quality and cost-conscious solutions.
We are constantly expanding our knowledge of the latest developments and technologies. In our projects, we recommend the use of innovative approaches in order to actively shape the future.
We are available on site at our plants. Due to the proximity to our internal customers, we can implement projects quickly, flexibly and unbureaucratically.
We are widely networked. As a central hub, we bring together the information of all project participants. We pass on the information and do the necessary translation work for the various partners in the project.
However, this process is a lengthy one, as technology and therefore analytics are involved in every value creation stage of a paper-based solution throughout the entire life cycle of a product—from the initial concept, through recycling, to the end of the product life cycle.
What we offer
- Instrumental and chemical analyses for development, production, and environmental standards
- System error analysis (known as “troubleshooting”) for continuity of production and test equipment monitoring purposes
- Microscopy, i.e. producing cross-sections of paper and investigating the different layers using modern electron microscopes
- Trace analysis and complex sample analysis using modern chromatography techniques, such as high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and gas chromatography (GC), e.g. to identify odor-influencing monomer components or to identify and characterize odor and flavor deviations.
- Biodegradability testing for environmental assessments: OECD 301F, OECD 302C
- Functionality testing and validation of measurement and inspection technology
- Raw material analysis for the purposes of sustainability and environmental standards
- Incoming goods testing for raw materials
Top-class research and expertise
in product conformity
What we offer
- Extensive partner network to help manage processes and widen portfolio
- Knowledge-sharing with partner suppliers, authorities, committees, and other institutions
- Monitoring of relevant changes to legal or recommended conformity standards, particularly requirements specific to the paper industry
- Expert knowledge of EU directives, including Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 (REACH) and Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 (CLP)
- Expert knowledge of regulations and recommendations for food contact materials such as Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004, BfR XXXVI., FDA (21 CFR) sections 176.170 and 176.180, GB 4806.8 and GB 9685, as well as other international, national, and regional requirements
- Expertise in all matters relating to food safety and hygiene
- Assistance with regulatory processes, from raw materials to final product, e.g. regulations around recyclability
- Comprehensive food safety assessments for paper intended for direct contact with food products, coordination of product certification process, and issuing of declarations of conformity
- Association work for ETPA (European Thermal Paper Association)
Patent protection and strategies from a single source
What we offer
- Patent strategies for the business segments of the Koehler Group
- Support of the Koehler Group's business segments with own intellectual property rights
- Monitoring of third-party property rights, countermeasures, freedom-to-operate opinions
- Patent strategy workshops
- Patent training courses
- Patent management
- IP contracts and IP clauses
- Inventor compensation
Koehler Innovation & Technology’s pilot coating machine (SMV) is the only one of its kind in the industry. A replica of a standard production line machine, it is used solely for the purposes of development. When upscaling production, for instance, laboratory tests can be run using the pilot coating machine prior to the first production test runs. This gives the development team the flexibility to address any problems, make adjustments to the product, and test new solutions without taking up valuable capacity on the main production line. The pilot coating machine is equipped with proven drying technology and also the latest coating technology. It has a working width of 50 cm, a maximum roll diameter of around 1.30 m, and a curtain coating system for multilayer coatings, meaning it is exceptionally well set up for all kinds of coating tests.
The Dixon laboratory coating machine provides an intermediary step between laboratory testing and the pilot coating machine. Unlike the pilot coating machine (SMV), it can be used to coat laboratory test pieces on a much smaller scale. This allows developers to produce representative paper samples, e.g. for user testing, without using large volumes of raw materials. That means they can work more flexibly and effectively because the preparation time is much reduced. The Dixon coating machine has a working width of 30 cm and a maximum roll diameter of 50 cm. It is primarily designed for doctor blade coatings.
The Sumet coater is part of our laboratory equipment set-up. One of its key advantages is that it allows us to reproduce the same coating on individual pieces of flat A4 material. This increases the level of automation in the laboratory and enables us to reproduce the same process over and over.
The machine uses a doctor blade coating technique where the coating is initially applied by hand. The blade then moves automatically across the surface at a constant – and adjustable – pressure, before the coated material is passed into the drying unit consisting of an IR heater and a downstream circulating air dryer. The power of the IR heater is adjustable in percent, as is the temperature and circulation rate of the downstream dryer. The advantage of this is that the drying process with the Sumet coater accurately replicates the drying process with industrial coating machines, which makes the process of scaling up to the pilot coating machine and ultimately production much easier. The drying results are more representative of industrial processes, meaning the design and development process is much more effective.
The laboratory sheet former is another of our pieces of laboratory equipment. It is used to prepare representative samples of wet paper pulp sheets that are very close to the results achieved with larger industrial systems later down the line. The sheet former enables us to test the coloring of products such as decor paper, so that we can adjust the color tones and find the perfect formula.
The multipurpose reactor was designed specifically for micro-encapsulation so as to test experimental processes before they are implemented at the production-scale level. The unit is extremely versatile, as it has several storage containers for raw materials and allows developers to set up very specific reaction conditions. This ensures excellent reproducibility while also providing a high degree of automation.
The centerpiece of the multipurpose reactor is a double-wall stainless steel pressure vessel (<6 bar, variable temperature control) with a capacity of 230 l and a dual agitator with variable speed settings. The control system also has a visual user interface, which developers can use to monitor batch processes and also control the dosing of solid and liquid raw materials from the three double-wall stainless steel storage containers (with variable temperature control and agitator).
The laboratory reactor can be used as an intermediate step when taking pure laboratory research and scaling it up to pilot-scale processes, and accordingly delivers valuable information regarding a product’s scalability. It is a highly automated system in which a large number of process parameters can be adjusted as necessary, making it particularly useful for formulation and even synthesis processes. The big advantages of the laboratory reactor are its versatility and high reproducibility.
The laboratory reactor enables developers to produce samples in batches of up to 5 kg and helps them define initial parameters (such as agitator speed) during the initial laboratory development stage, ready for upscaling during the pilot and/or production phase. The laboratory reactor can also be used to replicate complex manufacturing processes thanks to the different mixing devices with variable speed settings, the flexible reactor temperature settings (-45 to +230 °C), and the option to fit glass apparatus with ground glass joints. The PC user interface, once again, allows developers to input complex formulas and reproduce these with a high degree of accuracy.
Our synthesis laboratory researches and classifies new functional chemicals for functional surfaces. The findings give Koehler Innovation & Technology’s expert development team a better understanding of the physico-chemical properties of the chemicals and allow them to identify the influencing factors associated with either the raw materials themselves or the overall value chain for the raw materials. They can therefore approach their research with a broader understanding.
Because they understand the structural properties of the raw materials, they can control the interactions between them during the synthesis process and produce components that meet the stringent market requirements in terms of technological, regulatory, and environmental standards. In other words, they can produce top-quality paper made from top-quality components – guaranteed.
Process engineering is another important element of our laboratory and pilot work. This includes analyzing raw materials and prototype materials to see if they are compatible with processes under different conditions and making sure that processes are still effective when upscaled to production. Through this research, the Koehler Innovation & Technology development team ensures that raw materials are fit for their intended purpose.
Digital microscopes allow us to produce images at up to 100 times magnification, as well as take 2D and 3D measurements and generate topographic images. This technology is typical of Koehler Innovation & Technology’s forward-thinking and professional approach and provides us with a really accurate picture of our paper quality.
In addition, we use FT-IR microscopy to identify and map (by area/line) localized contamination measuring as little as 10x10 µm.
Our X-ray fluorescence device (XRF) is a valuable material analysis tool, which we use for both quantitative and qualitative analyses of coatings and a wide range of pigments and fillers.
This state-of-the-art device enables us to conduct detailed analyses of coatings and their structures. The image definition is exceptional and the images can be magnified up to 5000 times. There is also an EDX mapping function and option to produce cross-sections, so we are able to verify our paper quality in the minutest detail.
We use photometry technology to take color measurements, define environmental parameters, and conduct quality control checks.
Modern gas chromatography is a valuable tool for trace analysis and for examining complex samples with numerous analytes, such as odor-influencing monomer components. It’s also an extremely versatile technique, with uses ranging from VOC measurements and pyrolysis GC-MS to migration analyses and mass spectrometry.
We take OTR, WVTR, and HVTR measurements and use this data in combination with sensory panels to identify and characterize odor and flavor deviations.
In the past, the in-house printing plant was used to check the printability of our fine and carbonless paper, but it is now responsible for testing our thermal paper, particularly its abrasion resistance. Dozens of thermal printers run around the clock to make sure that our new (and updated) products continue to deliver the same exceptional quality. The in-house printing plant works closely with colleagues from Koehler Paper, which manufactures the thermal printers, to test each new product prior to its market launch.
In the recycling laboratory, Somerville fibre fractionators are used to apply the common assessment methods (Cepi and PTS) to evaluate papers and product concepts in terms of their recyclability. In addition, we directly apply the latest findings from the cross-industry alliance 4evergreen here. In this way, we can ensure that the final packaging solutions are recyclable.
Corporate Director Central Plant Engineering,
Koehler Innovation & Technology
“Over the last 60 years, we have become experts in central plant engineering. That gives us a real USP and makes us a true all-rounder. Our business is built on the foundations of exceptional engineering, in-house expertise, and a spirit of independence. There is almost nothing we haven’t done. And that makes us a fantastic development partner.”
Dr. Markus Wildberger
Corporate Director Technology,
Koehler Innovation & Technology
„We recognized the trend early and switched our focus to producing sustainable, recyclable products. We made groundbreaking investments in all areas so that we had the platform and space we needed to innovate. Sustainability is now a central pillar of our business and the starting point for the development of our pioneering solutions. These solutions help us secure long-term growth – not just for ourselves, but also for our customers and partners throughout the value chain.”
Head of Innovation Management,
Koehler Innovation & Technology
“The road from initial idea to final product is often long, bumpy, and circuitous. But it’s precisely in overcoming the obstacles that we realize the true value of a new product, process, or procedure. Our passion for pushing the boundaries is what drives us forward and fuels our enormous capacity for innovation and development.“
Dr. Timo Stalling
Head of Research and Analytics,
Koehler Innovation & Technology
„When it comes to analytics, Koehler is exeptionally well-positioned. We have made regular investments and boast state-of-the-art equipment and an array of specialist analytical technology that not every company of our size could afford. This allows us to respond rapidly to changing situations and offer up effective solutions.“