IKV: Farewell celebrations for Prof. Walter Michaeli

On July 1, a big farewell celebration was held at IKV for Professor Walter Michaeli with over 600 invited guests. Professor Michaeli, who has headed the Institute of Plastics Processing (IKV) at RWTH Aachen University for 23 years, will step down at the end of July on reaching retirement age. His farewell was celebrated with a colloquium in the afternoon and a large garden party in the evening.

The colloquium was organised under the motto "Values in science, industry and society. Insights." IKV was able to win a number of Professor Michaeli´s long-time colleagues as speakers, namely Prof. i.R. Max Kerner from RWTH´s Historical Institute, Prof. em. Hartwig Höcker of DWI at RWTH Aachen University, Dr.-Ing. Herbert Müller, member of the Board of Management of Surteco SE, and Professor Johannes Wortberg, holder of the Chair of Engineering Design and Plastics Machinery at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

The invited guests, colleagues and partners from science and industry - many of them present and former students of Professor Michaeli - but also family friends and relations, celebrated a giant reunion party in a large marquee at IKV´s Campus Melaten.
Professor Michaeli took over as head of the Institute from Professor Georg Menges in 1989. He consolidated the already established reputation enjoyed by IKV as the largest research centre for plastics processing in the world. He guided IKV through many an economic crisis. Today, IKV has 80 scientific assistants, 50 non-scientific employees and over 220 student assistants, who carry out practical research in the three large testing halls and the various laboratories. 235 companies in the plastics industry around the world support IKV in its Association of Sponsors.

Numerous innovations have been introduced under Michaeli´s leadership. These include the water injection technique, which has since become an industrially established process for the production of complex hollow plastic parts such as media lines and outside mirrors for the automotive industry, handles for building equipment and roof luggage carriers. Other examples of his achievements include implants of absorbable plastic for the closure of heart valves in the medical industry. Another key accomplishment under Professor Michaeli has been the continuous improvement in the simulation of processing processes and material models right through to so-called integrative simulation, which has in some cases already been implemented and involves the linking together of several simulation steps to predict the behaviour of plastic parts, and derived from this, improve their design.

When Professor Michaeli hands over to his successor, Professor Christian Hopmann, many research projects in basic research, e.g. in RWTH Aachen University´s Cluster of Excellence, "Integrative production technology for high-wage countries", will be continued for many more years. Several new collaborative research centres with a duration of twelve years have just been launched, among other things on plasma technology. Also, the many short-term industrial joint research projects constantly come up with innovations in materials, processing and products. Apart from that, there is an overriding call for greater energy efficiency and conservation of resources. Even after the Michaeli era, there will still be plenty of work to do in plastics research.

Professor Michaeli has received numerous awards and honours for his commitment to research and teaching. To mention a few, he received an honorary doctorate in 1998 from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, the VDI Plastics Innovation Award in 2002, the Federal Cross of Merit Class 1 in 2009, and the Otto-von-Guericke medal in 2010 for his achievements in building bridges between industry and academia. Although perhaps a little less spectacular, but no less appreciated by Professor Michaeli have been the consistently good appraisals by his students in the professor rankings.

The Institute wishes to thank Professor Michaeli for his outstanding dedication and commitment to the benefit of IKV and its staff.