Laboratories with fixed installations and non-network-enabled laboratory instruments are expensive and not always up-to-date. A new concept from the Technical University (TU) of Dresden shows what is now possible within the scope of digital transformation: a modular laboratory that can be changed at any time. SmartLabs – flexible, communicative and digitally connected.


Very nice (, but) static

In many conventional laboratories, time seems to have stood still. Workflows are paper-based and few instruments are connected. Tables, structures and accessories are fixed: The built-in kitchen principle – to stay for years. Laboratory workstations are some of the most expensive in the world, and they take 30 years to amortize. For lab managers this generally means they will only see a new laboratory once in their careers. But this can also quickly become “obsolete” because research content and requirements change continuously.

Minimal connectivity
Minimal connectivity
Very expensive
Very expensive
Quickly obsolete
Quickly obsolete


Smart labs from
the start

The flexible laboratory already exists, on the ‘laboratory scale’ so to speak. Researchers at TU Dresden are developing modular SmartLabs – with flexible infrastructure, for both physico-chemical and bio-technical requirements.
This enables mobile laboratory combs with integrated instruments and diverse functional areas to be docked flexibly to a fixed island bench.

For the laboratory scientist, this enormously reduces the time spent on searching, preparing and following-up – which is generally 70 percent of their working time. Secondarily, the comb concept can achieve a 33 percent higher space gain and as such create one third more workspace in the same area.


Functional and great design

The new comb laboratory environment is digital, miniaturized and automated. The instruments have smart functions. Horizontal and vertical intelligently connected, they are connected via electrical and data links and with the AI of the entire system. In practice, this means a self-designed SmartLab, plug and play.

The rolling laboratory benches must meet the high material standards of chemical and biological laboratories. For the bench surfaces, the engineers at TU Dresden, therefore, chose NEXTREMA® glass-ceramic. This is suitable for all functionalities of the individual honeycomb, as concerns the temperature or chemical resistance. NEXTREMA® also enables a modern frameless design, which is ideal for the aesthetic honeycomb design. The glass-ceramic also offers so much more…

Extremely fit – both in the lab and elsewhere

NEXTREMA® is a real multi-talent. The glass-ceramic offers a wide range of useful properties. For engineers and designers alike, the material platform opens up a plethora of solutions and new development prospects.

Resistant to acids and bases.

Our glass-ceramic’s surface is highly resistant to both acids (DIN 12116) and bases (ISO 695) – making it a very reliable material for use in aggressive environments. The elimination of degradation ensures a consistent material behavior and enables a stable process environment.

Incredible thermal shock resistance.

It’s not just how much temperature the material can resist, it’s also how well it can handle a quick change in temperature – NEXTREMA®’s resistance to thermal shocks varies by type and can reach up to 820 °C with almost no effect on the integrity of the material.

A process inert surface.

Our NEXTREMA® glass-ceramic solutions are process inert, which prevents undesirable interactions between the material and their surrounding environment.

High heat resistance.

Depending on the type, SCHOTT NEXTREMA® glass-ceramic can handle temperatures of up to 950 °C without suffering from fractures.

Near zero thermal expansion.

Modern product design concepts depend on reliable material performance, even when exposed to heat-intensive environments. And thanks to its intelligent microstructure, our glass- ceramic features extremely low levels of thermal expansion.

Perfect transmission.

Six transmission profiles enable engineers and product designers to choose the most suitable glass-ceramic with the profile that fits their product – instead of having to adapt their product to the material.


„With our SmartLab concept, we have deliberately chosen a broad range of materials: not only must they be chemically resistant, but also impact-resistant and temperature-resistant, and to a high standard too. Using NEXTREMA® as a laboratory bench covering meets these criteria to the highest level. The glass-ceramic also offers a great feel and a high-end look. We received great support for our project far beyond the sampling stage“ Dr. Felix Lenk, Head of the SmartLab systems research group, Technical University Dresden

„We are delighted to be a part of this pioneering laboratory concept with our NEXTREMA® glass-ceramic. The use of NEXTREMA® in this laboratory application shows just how much potential the material has.“ Roberto Perez Castro, Head of Product Management SCHOTT NEXTREMA®

„We are delighted to be a part of this pioneering laboratory concept with our NEXTREMA® glass-ceramic. The use of NEXTREMA® in this laboratory application shows just how much potential the material has.“ Roberto Perez Castro, Head of Product Management SCHOTT NEXTREMA®


Turning needs into reality. A custom-made laboratory so that you can concentrate on what’s important: start research work as a start-up – and expand as required.

Re-use and recycling are also issues that SmartLab inventors are looking into. The first show lab has been implemented at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park (HKSTP). More will be following in Germany, and more specifically in Dresden, Duisburg and Berlin, in 2020. This young laboratory is ready to come of age and set out towards the future.

Let’s create future smart labs with extreme materials! BE NEXTREMA®

What’s your next milestone?


Vanessa Pehnelt
Head of Marketing NEXTREMA®