In addition to ETH Zurich and Empa, we cooperate with further public and private institutions to carry out R&D projects.
Impulse Project Deep Learning for high-quality Wood Products with Innosuisse
Swiss Wood Solutions offers high-quality wood products in luxury markets with highest quality standards. Thus, high and reliable quality of the raw material is pivotal. Evidently, the properties of our raw material, wood, are subject to natural variability. The Impulse Project Deep Learning for high-quality Wood Products targets the development and implementation of a machine learning algorithm (MLA), which records and analyzes raw material and process parameters and hence allows real-time predictions of product quality.
Most importantly, the MLA is expected to help ensure value creation through optimized quality assurance. Additional project benefits are an optimized production yield, reduction of resource and energy consumption thanks to less scrap and optimized process parameters as well as a more flexible production. Once implemented, Swiss Wood Solutions aspires to involve suppliers and customers into the digitalization concept. By doing so, various stakeholder of the Swiss and European wood-based industry can benefit from more detailed raw material insight.
The Impulse Project Deep Learning is carried out in cooperation with Empa and supported by Innosuisse, the Swiss Innovation Promotion Agency. Innosuisse promotes the partnership between academia and markets with innovation projects, networking, training and coaching, laying the groundwork for successful Swiss start-ups, products and services. The project runs from November 2019 until October 2020.
RETWood with Eurostars
In response to the ecological, ethical and legal concerns associated with the use of tropical woods in string instruments making, Swiss Wood Solutions has developed the sustainable product Sonowood. The innovation’s aim is to replace endangered tropical woods in musical instruments. Sonowood is an extremely dense and hard wooden material. It was found that thanks to its very compact wood fibre structure, Sonowood can be milled particularly well and precisely. However, the particular production parameters and wood species can influence its behavior in fitting production through CNC machining.
The objective of the RETWood Project (Replacing Endangered Tropical Woods) is to carry out these investigations and ultimately develop an automated CNC machining process. The acquired CNC-milling competence, including CAD/CAM programming, will enable SWS to produce Sonowood fittings much more efficiently. The acquired CNC-milling competence can also be used for the development of further products consisting of precisely shaped wooden pieces such as woodwind instruments (flutes, clarinets), tool handles (knives, hammers), stationary products and luxury items (jewellery, watches, cameras).
The RETWood project is carried out in cooperation with the French fitting manufacturer Bois d’Harmonie and supported by Eurostars, a joint programme between EUREKA and the European Commission. Eurostars supports international innovation projects led by research and development-performing small- and medium-sized enterprises (R&D-performing SMEs). The project runs from November 2019 until October 2022.
TEEWood project with Horizon 2020
To build up on the promising results from the two projects sponsored by Gebert Rüf, Swiss Wood Solutions aspires to scale up the technology to produce wood for larger stringed instruments such as guitars and cellos. In addition, SWS aims to evaluate production for percussion instruments and expand the application fields of the technology to wooden sports equipment. For this purpose, SWS filed an application for financial support by the European research and innovation program Horizon 2020. Created and financed by the European Union, Horizon 2020 couples research and innovation to tackle societal challenges and deliver economic growth. For promising science projects and derived business ideas, nearly 80 billion of funding are available from 2014 to 2020.
In cooperation with accelopment a service provider specialized on applications for public funding programs, SWS filed a submission titled TEEWood (Technologically Enhanced European Wood for Substituting Endangered Tropical Woods). With the constructive help of accelopment, SWS completed the highly complex and time-consuming application process in October 2017. To our greatest delight, the submission was approved and the company received a grant of 1.5 million. Proof of competitive product properties, promising market opportunities and growth potential helped secure the funds starting in February 2018 and running through January 2020.
The upscale of the developed technology targeted in the TEEWood project with Horizon 2020 is expected to bear a range of impacts. Most importantly, the project is expected to solve the raw material scarcity problem of tropical wood-dependent industries such as the musical instrument industry. At the same, the customer benefits from a high performance material with custom-made physical properties, which comes along without any ethical issues and trade restrictions. Ecologically, a successful TEEWood project will make a precious contribution to save botanical diversity and enhance sustainable forestry in tropical areas. On a global political level, the project targets to reduce the incentives for illegal overexploitation of tropical forests as well asfor piracy and corruption in affected countries. From a cultural perspective, the TEEWood project is expected to save the traditional instrument manufacturing profession by providing a suitable and legal raw material.
Swiss Ebony project with the Gebert Rüf Foundation
Since March 2016 Swiss Wood Solutions has been financially supported by the Gebert Rüf Foundation. The private funding agency aims to boost entrepreneurial projects in Switzerland, which are committed to achieve an impact in current science and innovation challenges. Gebert Rüf has funded two projects at Swiss Wood Solutions. In the Swiss Ebony project, SWS succeeded to achieve dimensional stability of densified wood materials. The positive experimental results delivered the proof of concept and confirmed feasibility for the application of the material in the musical instrument market.
In the Swiss Ebony II project, which is set to run until June 2018, SWS targets the fine-tuning of physical and acoustics properties of the densified wood material. The adjustability of crucial parameters such as density and sound-propagation velocity enables SWS to acquire unique selling propositions in the musical instrument market. Thanks to the generous support by Gebert Rüf, Swiss Wood Solutions has established and initiated pilot production. Technology readiness level 6 (TRL 6) has been reached, implying the accomplishment of the prototyping phase. For violins and violas, market readiness has been achieved.