On average, a patent filed every 2 weeks
Over the course of our activities, we have been developing long-term partnerships with our customers. Whether they are small businesses or market-leading corporations, we help them to shape their future.
Being professional inventors challenging ideas in our labs, we also created new technologies or services and launched them through our own start-ups.
bonding technology for porous materials using ultrasound and thermoplastic elements
mechanically driven soft mist inhaler for patients with asthma or other pulmonary diseases
clinical ambulatory headset for monitoring a patient's EEG and detecting the onset of epileptic seizures
knowledge management tool for structuring and sharing human centred design processes
Project work for clients makes up the majority of our innovation activities. We also have long-term strategic partnerships with several of our clients. This type of partnership means we know our clients well and often work along- side them to anticipate the future needs of their business.
We’re particularly proud of helping create new businesses. Our portfolio of “in-house” incubation projects helps us understand the challenges of nurturing new ideas and bringing them to commercial success.
Our relentless pace of innovation has generated huge amounts of intellectual property - including more than 600 patents in 180 different patent families since 1986. However, IP is more than patents; it includes know-how and other expertise that helps us differentiate our projects from all others.
Over time, IP management has come to be a larger and larger part of how we provide value to clients. We undertake customized IP research, analysis and consulting for both new and existing technologies.
Awards are never the goal of a project. But our people and technologies keep winning them anyway.
In the first three decades of our work, we’ve completed over 800 projects and been recognized with a variety of national and international awards covering the whole range of our activities.
We are happy to show you some of our projects.
WoodWelding® technology is an innovative fixation technique that uses ultrasonic energy to form a bond in porous materials. To achieve this, thermoplastic elements are used as joining or connection elements. These elements can take virtually any shape, including nails, dowels or films. The technology offers a substitute to traditional fixation solutions such as metal nails, screws and adhesives.
Creaholic spent about 5 years developing the technology as a proactive incubation project, including basic research, development and proof of principle on many applications. Then, in 2000, Creaholic joined with GPI SA to found WoodWelding SA with the goal of refining and commercializing the technology.
There were many technical challenges involved in developing the technology, but the biggest challenge was to break through the established traditions and institutional inertia, especially in the wood-related industries.
The process works on a variety of porous materials. The only requirements are that the material has a porous surface and can withstand a certain degree of pressure. The WoodWelding process has been successfully tested in materials such as solid wood, fiber board, plywood, hollow core board, metal foam, asphalt, paper, foamed concrete, textiles, foamed glass and more.
Once proven and developed on wood and wood-derived products, a breakthrough insight led the team to extend the technology to the medical field, especially for fixation into bones.
WoodWelding SA has successfully commercialized the technology in several industrial fields, including furniture manufacturing, and has pursued the extremely promising use of the technology in medical and healthcare arenas as well. Several licensees have incorporated the platform technology into their own products.
For example, KLS Martin Group developed an apparatus and technique for cranio maxillofacial (CMF) surgery: SonicWeld Rx. And the company Stryker offers the SonicAnchor product for surgical attachment of ligaments and tendons.
In the original target market for the technology, the wood industry, one successful example can be found from the company Titus Plus, a member of the Titus Group, which introduced a new technology for cabinet assembly, Titusonic.
Finally, the tool manufacturer Wurth took the technology in a slightly different direction in 2016, when they released a hand-held device that allows the operator to use the WoodWelding bonding process in different materials, a process they’ve named Kaltschmelz-Technologie.
The WoodWelding and BoneWelding® technologies address two important global trends:
The main advantages of the WoodWelding technology are:
Winner, Swiss Technology award, 1999
Winner, Swiss Economic award, 2006
Thus far, 57 worldwide patent families have been created relating to the core WoodWelding technology and improvements.
Joulia started life as a Creaholic incubation project. Our idea was to massively reduce the energy requirements for showers by recovering thermal energy from the warm waste water and using it to preheat the incoming cold water. The result is a reduction of more than 40% in the energy needed to take a shower. Joulia SA was spun off in July 2010 to commercialize the product.
In a modern home the energy use for producing warm water is almost the same as for heating the whole building. And around 50-80% of the total hot water usage is for taking showers, where it goes straight down the drain. Low-flow showerheads can help, but many people don’t like them, and there are many commercial situations (hotels, spas, sports facilities) where energy efficiency is desired but a low-flow showerhead is inappropriate.
To build a product that fulfils a whole set of interrelated criteria, including:
The first product was a shower tray with a heat exchanger integrated into the floor. It launched in 2012. Due to market response and feedback we developed a second technology, first presented 2014 and launched in 2016. This second-generation technology is a heat exchanger module that can be integrated into the shower drain channel, or sold to other sanitary OEMs to use in their own products.
The first product generated a lot of attention in the media world; Joulia won several prices including the 2013 “Watt d’Or” prize given by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy.
Even before its official launch, the Joulia-Inline product won the 2015/2016 Design Prize Switzerland. Global sanitary companies, including Laufen Bathrooms and Duscholux, have decided to implement the Joulia-Inline technology in their products.
Joulia shower trays are installed in high-profile locations, including the Swiss tennis training center and the Matterhorn base camp (“Hörnlihütte”). The world’s first autarkic apartment building, in Brütten, Switzerland, will use the Joulia-Inline shower drains to help it reach its goal of zero net energy usage.
Certifications and quality seals (such as the well-known CE mark in Europe) help providers of apps and medical wearables to win the trust of users and partners. In addition, certification is legally required for certain kinds of medical products. It is therefore essential for a new commercial product to be recognized by quality standards.
A short time to market is critical to every business, and it is especially important in the field of medical applications and wearables, where new innovations are constantly emerging.
The strict regulations and quality requirements lead to long product development cycles, which need to be supported by considerable investment before a certified product is available. The certification process can be complex and time consuming—many companies struggle to complete the process and some even go out of business while waiting for certification to be granted.
The question was: how can we accelerate the process to go to market and reduce costs while fulfilling the strict quality requirements?
Building credibility in the market , which required us to develop a robust system for accelerating certification without sacrificing quality.
Decomplix was founded in 2016 as a joint venture, with Creaholic being one of the founding parties.
Because Creaholic has many projects in the medical field, Decomplix is both the product of long experience and a perfect fit for future development—we now have a trusted partner who might help Creaholic customers to accelerate innovation by getting their products certified fast.
With an expert platform, Decomplix takes care of CE certification and guarantees Common Quality Seals for medical devices and app providers. It’s a trusted platform for providers as well as users and health care professionals. The Decomplix business model makes customers (in this case medical device developers) into “partners”, which helps build and maintain a trustworthy relationship.
Creaholic helped with the process for setting up the company, and supporting it with its internal business strategy know-how.
With Decomplix, there is a new platform for getting certifications and quality seals for apps and medical wearables in half the time.
The Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) group is one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany, Boehringer Ingelheim operates globally with around 140 affiliates and a total of more than 47,000 employees. Since its foundation in 1885, the family-owned company has focused on researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing new medications of high therapeutic value for human and veterinary medicine.
The Respimat® Soft Mist™ Inhaler is a next-generation inhaler that generates a slow-moving soft mist which is easy to inhale and delivers the drug effectively and reliably into the lungs of patients with asthma or other pulmonary diseases. It is mechanically driven and therefore does not rely on harmful aerosol propellants for atomization. The medication is stored and introduced into the inhaler via a cartridge which consists of a plastic container enclosed in an aluminum shell.
The plastic container is blown inline from two materials produced in a co-extrusion blow molding technique. After the extrusion process, the very thin inside layer has to be detached from the stiffer outside layer without damage, so as to guarantee pressure compensation during use.
In several development steps and in collaboration with the team at BI, Creaholic went from the concept generation through process-development, mechanical design and pre-testing to finally perform test runs on the production line and prove the efficacy of this innovative process to separate the two layers and so ensure the correct operation of the device. This procedure is known as CCO (cut, crack, open).
The process has proved very successful in real-world deployment, and in fact in 2014 Boehringer Ingelheim invested more than €100 million at its Dortmund site to expand production capacity for the Respimat inhaler to 44 million units per year.
Social responsibility is an important element of the corporate culture at Boehringer Ingelheim, which we could experience in an intensive collaboration and during several projects since 1999.
Gerald Mathe / Jörg Spreitzer /
Hauert have been producing plant fertilizer for more than 300 years: the company was founded back in 1663 in Grossaffoltern, Switzerland, where their headquarters and main production facilities are still located.
Today, Hauert is the leading producer of gardening fertilizer in Switzerland and also sells organic and mineral-organic fertilizers internationally. With just over 100 employees in Switzerland and in Germany, the family-owned company produces over 25,000 tons of high-quality fertilizer each year.
Liquid fertilizers are an important part of the Hauert product range. However, these high-end products are mainly sold directly to consumers via gardening stores, where Hauert is in direct competition with large international brands. Therefore, an eye-catching package is extremely important in order to attract the customer’s attention.
Hauert approached Creaholic with the challenge to design and create a dosing system, which resolves the actual spilling issue of today’s fertilizers on the market when dispensed in water. In addition, it should be a visually appealing and distinctive package family for their range of liquid fertilizers.
The scope of the project already implied that the distinctive functional element should be an integrated, easy-to-use dosing system. In close collaboration, Hauert and Creaholic searched for suitable solutions and continuously elaborated the best ideas regarding both technical and aesthetic design aspects. Within a few months of brainstorming, sketching, designing and rendering, but also building quick samples and rapid prototyping models, a new dosing chamber system was created to replace the traditional measuring cap.
Now, with its clean, modern shape, the new package not only catches the customer’s eye in the store, but its dosing chamber cap also allows the user to dose the fertilizer quickly and cleanly. Today the dosing cap is completely produced by a local manufacturer in three different sizes.
NeuroPro is a Swiss-based medical technology, research and commercialization company focused on bringing cutting-edge technology to the healthcare community and innovating safe and low-cost solutions for applied EEG signal analysis.
NeuroPro’s co-founders, Dr. Walid Juffali and Dr. Jamil El-Imad, developed an algorithm (WiNAM) to predict the onset of epileptic seizure based on abnormal brain activity.
When they considered the life situation of a person diagnosed with epilepsy and the clinical and research hardware available, they realized that existing devices and computing infrastructure for monitoring and analysis of brain signals were not simple, comfortable or affordable enough to assist patients in their daily lives and help restore their confidence. Furthermore, existing devices did not address the unmet needs of a research community, which is striving for better accessibility to sample data to help understand and combat many neurological and psychiatric disorders. With this vision in mind NeuroPro approached Creaholic to start a collaboration on the development of their mobile EEG monitoring device: NeuroTrail.
Our goal was to develop a mobile EEG headset that does not require the use of conductive gel and allows a faster and more comfortable setup with a higher social acceptance for the wearer. The challenges lay in the ergonomic positioning of sensors and the adaption to a wide variety of head sizes while creating a design that is empowering rather than stigmatizing for the wearer.
In the development we worked in close collaboration with the Dutch technology firm IMEC who developed the electronics and had the opportunity to gain a lot of insights from the EPI clinic in Zürich. Over the course of more than two years and several development iterations we went from initial concept generation to the mechanical design and prototyping of components, to the integration of the electronics, assembly and pre-testing of devices to a final batch of 10 pre-series prototypes. Throughout this time interviews with patients and insights from specialists supported us in the design process. The initial vision of a single all-in-one headset for epilepsy prediction was expanded to the design of a modular EEG acquisition platform that allows different configurations for different needs and applications.
This led to the final result of the NeuroTrail headset is an ergonomically designed family of flexible wireless headsets for capture of EEG and motion (accelerometer and gyroscope) data. The small form factor two-channel headband is suitable for wellness, lifestyle and entertainment uses. The eight-channel headset allows flexible positioning of up to eight gel-free electrodes and is designed for applications in healthcare research, cognitive assessment/training and neurofeedback. NeuroPro’s software applications allow instant visualization of the captured data and direct streaming to a cloud storage platform.
Swisscom, a major telecom provider in Switzerland, has encouraged and nurtured a Human Centred Design approach within the organization. The remit of the HCD team is to work with the various departments within Swisscom to help generate ideas and to implement new solutions that will benefit the organization, as well as meet the needs of users.
Having seen the Creaholic Gas Phase Tool Kit, Swisscom’s Human Centred Design team approached us and asked if we could help them to streamline their own tools and processes.
As the HCD team developed and expanded, they adopted and generated a diverse set of methods, tools and processes. However, after playing a significant role in a number of successful implementations, the importance of HCD became more widely recognized within the organization. Due to increased demand, it was necessary to articulate, visualize and communicate the methods, tools and processes, so that these could be easily shared among all staff within Swisscom. However, as with any busy team in a large organization, it was difficult to find the time and opportunity to organize and rationalize this diverse content into an easy-to-communicate, self-contained manual.
We identified three principal project objectives:
Our primary roles in the project were as a moderator and editor. Swisscom’s HCD team had a large collection of tools and methods; at Creaholic we also had our own collection of potentially complementary tools and methods.
Creaholic moderated a series of workshops in which we worked with the HCD team to:
Creaholic has worked with Bernafon since 1988; we have collaborated on twelve very different projects. These have varied in scope from pure technology focused projects to pure product design projects.
We have developed technology concepts for new directions in 'in-canal fitting', in-ear fittings and a number of other hearing aid components such as faceplates, pins, battery drawers and microphones. We have also produced design concepts for new ranges of hearing aids as well as developing color and surface treatments for existing products.
Because of the range of our work together, we want to outline the challenge, solution and results with respect to three very different projects:
Project BRITE was the follow-up product to the successful Swiss Ear model, and was intended to be Bernafon’s next high-end non-conventional-looking behind the ear (BTE) hearing system.
Creaholic’s challenge was to design the exterior housing for the BRITE, which should be a “non-BTE looking housing”, to define a clear departure from the BTE housings of the day. This clear departure from a traditional BTE hearing aid look was intended to help attract new end users.
The Creaholic team had a number of criteria to consider when designing the new device. It needed to appeal to a younger target market, allow a degree of customization, and of course respect the high tolerances needed for optimum functionality. Creaholic focused on exploring:
The resulting product won a RedDot design award in 2007 and has been a mainstay of the Bernafon product line.
Creaholic was asked to help create a BTE product family with a distinct Bernafon identity. The product family consisted of two main types and several sub-variants. The main motivation was to have more housing options for future product families and to be prepared for the increasing BTE market. The objective of this design was to define the basis for a new Bernafon BTE family (micro BTE and Compact Power BTE).
The faceplate of an 'in the ear canal' hearing aid is the only part of the device that is visible to others. Therefore it is extremely important to make it as discreet as possible. For this project the Creaholic solution ensured that the battery drawer (part of the faceplate) had soft, rounded lines that resemble those of the ear itself. It was also important that the opening for the battery didn’t cast any unnecessary shadows on the surface of the hearing aid, because such shadows can attract the eye to the device. Creaholic was responsible for the evaluation of suppliers, CAD designs and production follow-up. It was a full-service project ranging from mechanical design to lead-in 0-Series.
The Würth Group is world market leader in its core business: assembly and fastening equipment. The product range for craft and industry comprises over 125,000 products, from screws, screw accessories and anchors to tools, chemical-technical products and personal protection equipment.
Würth was an early licensee of the WoodWelding (WW) technology, with the aim of developing a handheld tool for use in the construction trade. Their interest in this project was driven by evolutions in the furniture field, particularly the disruptive use of lightweight honeycomb panels, which are difficult to fix using traditional methods.
Creaholic worked with WoodWelding, Würth, and the EMD Mechatronics Sàrl to develop a compact high-power ultrasonic handheld device that could power the WW process in different materials. The tool was designed to be adaptable to different applications, but the intended primary use was to simply and efficiently fix thermoplastic dowels into hollow core (honeycomb) panels.
The challenge was to transform the connection technique—which works on an industrial scale—into a compact and portable tool for daily use. It should cost about a thousand francs, similar to power tools for carpentry.
Reviewing the first concepts with mock-ups, we discovered a fundamental handling criteria: the need to provide precise and even pressure on the thermoplastic dowel. This was difficult to achieve with a completely unsupported tool design (e.g. like a power drill). Therefore, in a workshop together with EMD and Würth, the concept developed from a parallel translation to a pivoting movement based on three points (tripod) to give the tool a stable position for a precise application of dowels.
The front point, where the sonotrode is located, is supported by a wider rear pivot foot at the base of the machine handle. Because of this design, the machine can always be used parallel to the work surface. The rear foot is made of softer material, so the veneers of the honeycomb plates are not scratched by the pressure.
Finally, encouraged by the Würth design team, it was important to make the case Würth-compliant. Designed in black with red controls, the device was realized according to guidelines of the client’s corporate identity, integrating the air vent and the profile of the buttons.
The finished device is now slightly larger than a drill and weighs less than 2 kg. It is operated with 2 hands: one pushes forward on the flattened head, the other triggers a button to start the ultrasonic vibration. If this is activated, the yellow light on top of the machine lights up.
The target selling price was also reached. The first intended use will be in shop and exhibition construction, and in interior design for the caravan sector.
The WoodWelding connection technique is also proving to be useful for cabinet makers and carpenters. At the last fall, Würth and carpentry company Röthlisberger presented three studies from Moritz Schmid, Atelier Oї and Studio Hannes Wettstein.
"It is impressive, how Creaholic integrates clients in its workshops. "
Achim Wieland, Würth Germany