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Search and Find: expertise in the field of fiber-based materials

Search and find: Competences in the field of fiber-based materials The AFBW competence Atlas offers a comprehensive supplier and market overview in the field of fiber-based materials. 60 companies, 24 scientific and research institutions, 9 initiatives and networks, the Forschungskuratorium Textil (Textile Research Advisory Board) and 5 state agencies from Baden-Württemberg present their skills and portfolios. Here you will find project partners and suppliers, service and know-how providers.

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The TechTex INNOVATION Guide introduces: 99 innovators

Innovation takes place where different disciplines, industries, partners, people and markets intersect along the entire value chain. With a view to the growing complexity of the world, many tasks and challenges can only be managed if the different partners are brought together and are interconnected more closely than before. This is where the TechTex INNOVATION Guide comes in and provides a platform for textile innovators and innovations – as a hub for exchange and transfer, for inspiration and enthusiasm.

Textiles have great potential, being a classic cross-sectoral technology. Textile products and processes – driven not only by ecological necessities – are important catalysts for many  industries and applications.

The TechTex INNOVATION Guide introduces 99 Morgenmacher along the textile value chain, 99 innovators in the textile industry who are tackling the challenges of tomorrow today. Companies, research institutions, universities, and associations present their competence profiles in the TechTex INNOVATION Guide and examples of their fiber-based innovations. In doing so, they intend to trigger new ideas for applications of innovative products and technologies, invite others to engage in cross-industry collaborations, and act as catalysts for creativity where partners from different industries intersect.

The TechTex INNOVATION Guide provides incentives for a better utilization of the potential of fiber-based materials thus enhancing sustainable growth opportunities for companies and stakeholders in the area of fiber-based materials.

A FIBER PUSH project
The TechTex INNOVATION Guide is a project of FIBER PUSH – the material-oriented business unit of AFBW. Innovative fiber materials are the focus of FIBER PUSH. In this regard, the business unit increasingly considers ecological aspects – for example, in the development and selection of materials.

FIBER PUSH’s focus is on developments that force a sustainable use of resources, use of alternative raw material sources, and an extension of service and product lives. And this focus is reflected in the TechTex INNOVATION Guide, by the large number of examples of sustainable products and initiatives.

From the trend and future research: Megatrends

Megatrends need not be predicted because they already exist and identify changes that have long influenced us and will continue to influence us far into the future. Megatrends are the deep currents of change. As an evolutionary constant of the global society, they stretch over several decades. Megatrends have effects on every single person and include all levels of society: business, industry, politics, and also science, technology, and culture.

Megatrends change the world – this happens slowly but fundamentally and with long-term effects. We must know about them to draw the right conclusions for our actions and our management of change. They act as catalysts for increased innovative power and provide the basis for the creation of future-oriented strategies and developments. From these change processes arise potentials which the economy and society must use and perceive as a chance to shape the transformation.

Megatrends also significantly influence the development of fiber-based products and are effective drivers of textile innovations. It is indispensable for textile innovators to recognize
and utilize them for their development and design activities. Six megatrends from the analysis of the Zukunftsinstitut are of special importance for the textile world:

  • Health
  • Mobility
  • Urbanization
  • Neoecology
  • Individualization
  • Silver Society

With four of their technology-oriented fields of business – FIBER Mobility, FIBER Healthcare, FIBER Architecture, and Smart Textiles – AFBW addresses these megatrends. In addition, FIBER PUSH – as a material-oriented field of business – drives the development of innovative and sustainable fiber materials and provides great potential for all megatrends to cope with the challenges.

Numerous fiber-based product innovations and current developments relate to these megatrends. The TechTex INNOVATION Guide shows a large number of impressive successes. They are the basis for the huge growth rates of fiber-based materials. It is up to us to continue this successful development – closely oriented to these megatrends.

You find the megatrend-map here (copoyright Zukunftsinstitut, Frankfurt)

Interview Peter Haas: Textile-based solutions for megatrends
Peter Haas, CEO of Südwesttextil
Dr. Ralf Kindervater

Fiber-based materials are seen as enablers for the challenges of tomorrow. For which of the megatrends do textiles have a special importance?

Textile-based solutions address many megatrends: the increasing mobility of our society, the aging society, digitization and automation, the trends towards individualization, smarter requirements on energy utilization and infrastructure, and, last but not least, the overarching keyword of sustainability.

Can you give specific examples?

With a view at mobility, we can see such an incredible number of textile innovations – not only in the cars of the future where lightweight construction, customizable interiors, or batteryfriendly functional textiles play an important role. Even in the aviation and railway sectors, for example, smart engineers have adopted fiber-based approaches more and more often. Or, let’s have a look at the topic of infrastructure, urbanization, or the construction sector in general: concrete bridges no longer corrode because they are reinforced using textiles instead of steel. Buildings allow vertical farming because we can use fabrics as supporting materials providing sufficient hold and humidity. As an example, within the context of an ageing society, I must always think of that carpet in a cruise ship cabin that sends an alarm to the paramedics if a person has fallen. And I am especially fond of innovations in the field of sustainability, for example, outdoor clothing that becomes waterproof without the use of any chemicals.

The textile industry has been in tough waters for a long time and now we call it a future-proof industry and speak about the how truly versatile textiles are. What happened?

Many believe that textiles were a story from the last century. But when we speak about textiles today, we speak about, for example, wallpaper that can be used for heating, about hawsers that are made of fibers stronger than steel, about threads with integrated sensors installed on the rotor blades of large windmills that indicate when it’s time to carry out preventive maintenance. After many difficult years of structural change, our industry is about to reinvent itself and even act as a catalyst for other industries.

In which industries do you see the greatest innovative power and opportunities for growth?

Within the clothing industry, I see them in the area of high quality sustainable and individualized fashion, and, above all, across all areas of technical textiles: everywhere where producers manage to anticipate and solve the problems of the booming consumer industries. Nowadays, textiles must create needs and offer solutions to those working in areas that have not yet thought about textiles at all and enthuse them. We must trigger “Wow” effects in other industries. This also requires strategic innovation management – which is not so easy for our SME-dominated industry.

Today, many textile companies are high-tech companies. They increasingly produce technical textiles with complex physical, chemical, and functional properties. What makes fibers so unique?

To answer this, I must use one of my favorite textile terms: fibers are flexible. That means they can be used in a much wider range of applications than stiff or rigid materials. This is exciting when it comes to forming, combining with other materials, or functionalization. It is not surprising that nature relied on fibers in the construction of the bodies of living things.

What does the future look like? Will this dynamic development continue?

I sure hope so and I’m also optimistic. A prerequisite is that the transfer is managed well: the transfer from original competencies to new products, the transfer of ideas from science to industry, and of solutions from the textile industry to its consumer industries. To organize these processes under favorable framework conditions, it is important that politicians recognize the significance of such a small but smart and high-tech industry and support research and education within this industry. Networks such as the AFBW and associations such as Südwesttextil work on this continuously every day.

It is truly impressive what’s going on in this industry. Yet, I have the impression that many have no idea what a treasure it is. Does this industry lack self-confidence?

We need an image that is as good as the opportunities this industry offers. The textile industry in Germany has nothing to do with that on other continents. Therefore, we need an  increased interest in what our industry has to offer. In this regard, we appeal to our future employees, but also to potential customers and politicians. We are innovative, we make great products of which we can be proud, we pay good wages and salaries, and our companies are loyal to their workforces. The textile industry should be considered a puzzle piece or part of a dynamic industrial, location, and labor market policy that no longer relies on a small number of large-scale industries only, but on a more diversified range including several small industries. And this is why we just love our slogan: Textiles – truly versatile! Spread the word!

Fiber healthcare and fiber mobility

Health & Care: Growth market for fibers

Due to demographic changes, the healthcare market has become a growth market thanks to rising demands for healthy living and quality of life, and its huge innovation potential. There are various applications for fiber-based materials in the health industry, both in inpatient and outpatient care, used on the body or even intracorporal.

We are talking about hygiene articles, products for wound dressing, suture materials, hernia mesh materials, tooth implants, and many more. Last but not least, we have orthoses and compression products or textiles in medical devices, for example, to filter blood. Another growing market worldwide is the area of diapers, women’s sanitary products, and products for incontinence.

If we add the recreational area, this market is even more expanded as this area includes sportswear too. Sportswear often made to be functional or smart - measuring and analyzing training efficiency directly via sensor technology on the body.

Modern mobility solutions – unthinkable without fiber-based materials

20-25 kg of fiber-based materials are installed or integrated in cars. With a growing tendency. Fiber-based materials offer solutions for a huge number of challenges faced by the automotive industries. For example, the EU regulations regarding the reduction of carbon emissions have far-reaching consequences that are relevant to the topics of lightweight construction, alternative drive concepts, and functionalization, among others.

In Germany, 22 percent of technical textiles are used in auto - mobile production which therefore represents the largest area of application. They are used in filters, in safety components such as airbags or belts, or even structural parts made of fiber composites. An important area is the entire vehicle interior in which textiles are used as formed parts, decorative elements, seating covers, headliners, or carpets.

Autonomous driving and future challenges will dramatically change the interior of cars – fiber-based materials offer many possibilities to realize sustainable interiors with a pleasant  touch and feel.

Other than in the automotive industry, fiber-based solutions will gain importance in other forms of mobility too, for example in the aerospace industry, railroad or bicycle industry, and in new fields of application.

Fiber architecture and smart textiles

Fibers as the 5th building material

Fiber-based materials are now considered the fifth building material and more and more applications are being found for them – for visionary architectures, for energy efficient and sustainable constructions, indoor or outdoor, for temporary or permanent buildings. In many applications, they represent the ideal combination between function, sustainability, and aesthetics.

With textile materials and processes, construction processes can be improved to be more innovative, more cost-efficient, more flexible, functional, lighter, etc. Textile high-tech materials increasingly win against the classic building materials such as steel, glass, concrete, or wood. These aesthetic resourcefriendly and functional materials are suitable for many products and applications in construction.

Even today, they are used not only in structural engineering but also in civil engineering and interior design. The TechTex INNOVATION Guide shows innovative examples from textile reinforcement to textile facades, and shading systems.

When textiles communicate and interact

Smart textiles are textiles with especially innovative extra benefits based on the new smart functions of the basic materials. Smart textiles overcome technological boundaries, can communicate and interact. They take over tasks that support and relieve people. Today, smart textiles are intelligent, sensory, active, and multi-functional.

The global market for smart textiles is expected to reach a volume of almost US$5 billion by 2020 according to forecasts by US analysts. In the area of technical textiles, Germany leads the world market and is also among the innovators and leading suppliers of smart textiles.

Smart textiles – this can be so much:

  • The carpet (in an old folks’ home) that indicates if someone has fallen and needs help
  • The jacket for cycling that blinks on the side to which the cyclist wants to turn
  • Fiber-based wallpaper that controls temperature and humidity in a room
  • Fiber reinforced rotor blades on windmills that indicate when it’s time to do maintenance
  • Textiles that improve noise protection and acoustics inhomes, make wall surfaces multifunctional, and furniture covers that clean themselves.

The list of ideas and approaches for smart textiles is almost unlimited.

Focus: sustainablility

Besides the technological and economical aspects, FIBER PUSH mainly concentrates on the ecological concerns in the assess - ment of innovative fiber-based products. Therefore, at the center of the FIBER PUSH activities, there are the developments that encourage a sustainable use of resources, the use of alternative sources for raw material, and the extension of service and product lives.

Above all, this includes bio-based fibers and the development of continuous and consistent material cycles – the cradle-tocradle approach. These cycles optimize material efficiency and contribute to a resource-friendly economic system. With the support of FIBER PUSH, research and industry have together developed concepts to integrate renewable materials, new fiber materials, and production processes into the textile chain and cross-sectoral applications in order to achieve sustainability.

FIBER PUSH sustainability label
The TechTex INNOVATION Guide especially highlights companies who promote sustainable product innovations. These companies receive the FIBER PUSH sustainability label. With this label, AFBW wishes to tangibly show how many companies in the textile industry even today are committed to sustainable business management methods.

At the same time, the award-winning companies should serve as examples and motivate others to work together towards the goal of sustainability and to improve the quality of life in our society. The label in the TechTex INNOVATION Guide provides orientation in contacting the companies.

The FIBER PUSH sustainability label is based on the following three criteria:

  • The use of sustainable and ecological materials or the development of efficient material innovations
  • Development of processes focused on sustainable management of resources
  • Solutions that result in longer ser vice or product lives

Companies whose products or production methods fulfil at least one of the named criteria receive the label.

FIBER PUSH is convinced: in the future, only those technologies and products will be successful on the markets that – besides their function – also fulfil certain ecological and social standards.