From Germany to Sweden: Prof. Sebastian Scholz on his research collaboration with RISE and LIGHTer

An interview with Sebastian Scholz, a professor and researcher who has come to Sweden to work at RISE. He shares his background, research focus, goals, and experiences of relocating with his family. He also explains how he got to know LIGHTer, and how it played a role in his collaboration with RISE.

Hello Sebastian! Tell us a little about your background and research focus

I am prof. Sebastian Scholz, leader of the Fraunhofer Kunststoffzentrum Oberlausitz & Professor at the University of Applied Sciences Zittau/GörlitzI, who has come to Sweden to work at RISE.

I have a background in composite manufacturing and lightweight design, and I have been leading the Plastics Technology Center Oberlausitz in Zittau for eight years. This is part of the Fraunhofer-Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology (Fraunhofer IWU), which is an organization for applied research with tight industry bonds, very similar to RISE.

Our research groups focus on composite production and additive manufacturing (AM), with R&D topics covering, for example, resin infusion technologies, crash-resistance in automotive, lightweight energy systems (e.g., steam turbine blade and flywheel accumulator), combining additive manufacturing with composite production, and natural fiber reinforced materials (biobased SMC/BMC).

What are you doing in Sweden and what do you hope to achieve?

At RISE, I am working with the AM-group in Mölndal, mainly on large scale additive manufacturing (IRBAM). Beside this I have also connected with the composite research teams in Mölndal and Piteå.

RISE and Fraunhofer are two organizations with a similar structure and a shared vision; to strengthen the innovation capacity of the European industry whilst enabling the green transition. Therefore, it could be beneficial for both institutes to collaborate and tackle the current challenges together. It is important to exchange knowledge, ideas and to join forces in applied research in Europe, because we can benefit from each other’s expertise, experiences, and networks.

Thus, one of my goals is to get in touch with many colleagues from RISE and find interesting intersections of research between RISE and Fraunhofer. We also hope to be able to initiate proposals for joint research projects focusing on EU funding programs.

I also want to learn more about how RISE is organized and what research activities and challenges that exist especially in the field of AM and composites. Additionally, even though I made some changes in my department to be able to leave for a year, I still need to spend some time on “homework”, organizing things for my unit in Germany.  

I understand that you moved here with your family, how would you describe your experience of relocating so far?

RISE gave us a lot of support, especially Seyed Hosseini from the AM Center, who paved the way for us to come here. We also had the help of a relocating company, who assisted us with the applications at the Skatteverket, the bank, and so on.

We found a nice apartment and both of my sons got into the international school, where they are gradually learning to speak English and making new friends. Looking back, it was a bigger step than I thought to move with the whole family, but I feel good about it now. I am happy with that decision so far.

How did you get to know LIGHTer and what part did LIGHTer play in you coming here?

I first met LIGHTer through a business trip organized as a collaboration between LIGHTer and the German-Swedish Chamber of Commerce. I was warmly welcomed by the LIGHTer directors, Cecilia and Christian, who introduced me to LIGHTer and showed me around RISE and Gothenburg. I then discovered that RISE works on very similar things to us at Fraunhofer, especially in the AM field, and we quickly started to work together on joint proposals.

What is LIGHTer’s role in you coming to Sweden?

I came here to pursue and broaden the existing collaboration between Seyed Hosseini’s AM Center and Melina Silva’s AM Group. But if it wasn’t for LIGHTer arranging the visit of the German group to RISE 2.5 years ago, I might not be here today. I am very happy that some of the composite unit of RISE and the LIGHTer team is based here in Mölndal.