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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Textiles accompany people for over 30,000 years. The oldest textile fibers demonstrably used by humans come from a cave in Georgia. Textiles have never before been as topical as they are today. Textiles provide solutions to many of today's challenges: mobility in the future, everyone's health, demography, ecology. The material properties of fiber-based materials make them more attractive than ever: flexible, rigid and lightweight, making it as energy-saving, multifunctional and therefore interesting for many applications. Whether in the car, in medicine or architecture: For quite a few textile is already the new metal.
The Business and Employers Confederation Südwesttextil represents companies that drive this innovative development. Part of the innovation culture is the continuous exchange with science, with potential cooperation partners at home and abroad, the bigger picture. Südwesttextil is glad to have the AFBW as a platform in its own network, which organizes inspirationally the dialogue in the fiber-based value chain and not only creates tangible added value for all members, but has even enabled tangible inventions. This is notably the result of professional work of the AFBW: It brings people together, is a trend scout and provides orientation - the Competence Atlas is the best proof. It shows an impressive degree of the accumulated know-how and the modernity of the strongest German textile sites. I am deeply convinced: Textile from Baden-Württemberg is the stuff the future is made of.
Fibre-based materials and innovations that are “made in Germany! Are closely related to each other. High-tech textile materials can be found in cars just as in mattresses, in wind engines or medical implants. The textile industry is an excellent problem solver for a wide range of industries.
Fibres keep coming back, as can currently be observed in the field of architecture. Textiles extend the material portfolio with respect to design, functionality and sustainability. Thanks to these characteristics, fibre-based materials are perfectly suited for a wide range of applications and represent a profitable alternative.
So what does the future of the textile industry look like? What future markets will there be and which research requirements can be foreseen today? Which new fields of application are in close reach and which strategic measures must be taken by companies now? What does this mean for future knowledge needs and knowledge flows?
Questions need answerd. Forschungskuratorium Textil e.V. has accepted this task and, together with institutes, companies and students, went on a trip to 2050, to look back on 2025. Considerations were flanked by societal megatrends and global issues such as demographic development, climate change or the efficient use of resources.
FKT`s structured outlook on the future is an ideal template for its member associations and the often family-owned textile companies, to think about their own future. What actually needs to be done is to use the worked out knowledge for new innovations, specific future markets, strategies and new business opportunities and to strongly motivate the leadership teams involved.
After completion of the Perspectives 2025 future project, we now have more than 250 textile ideas and solutions available. In addition, the project helped to identify the need for research with regards to the most important fields
of use of technical textiles. The team method for creating future maps introduced by Munich futurologist Thomas Strobel assisted with establishing a comprehensive knowledge base. This knowledge allows companies to plan ahead and derive company-specific strategies to realise innovations and new business models.
Fibre-reinforced concrete will allow for new architectural designs with a more economical use of material at the same time. Adaptive sheathings bring about new construction methods and building properties, for example the bioclimatisation
of outer walls. Removable membrane walls with multi-functional properties (transparency, temperature and noise insulation) adapt to changing needs. Textile sensors detect fire, damage and wear.
Functionalisation, individualisation and recycling are the keywords for the future of the clothing industry. Integrated
sensors warn about hazards in traffic or at the workplace. They not only monitor vital signs but also generate electric
power or boost muscular strength. Intelligent recycling of used garments or production waste creates raw materials for new products. Garments made of alternative sustainable raw materials, such as milk fibres, are also available.
Roof greening is a central element in decentralised food production. Greenhouses with an independent self-contained
power supply and a closed hydrological cycle for use in desert areas allow for sustainable production areas. Textile filters ensure the supply drinking water and improve its quality worldwide.
Textile solar cells in façades or on car roofs replace conventional solar panels. Fabric structures serve as the basis for artificial photosynthesis – CO2 plus sunlight delivers O2 plus biomass. Textiles store electric energy in their
huge surfaces or store mechanical energy as artificial muscles.
Culturing of stem cells on textile substrates. Replacement material for bones, ligaments and sinews based on textile structures improves tolerability. Medication through implants and sensory wound dressings speed up healing. Conductive yarns are used for monitoring vital signs. External activation triggering movements facilitates rehabilitation measures.
Textiles increase comfort in vehicle interiors. Sensors control the adjustment of seats, light and temperature individually for each user of a vehicle. Airbags are also used on the exterior to improve protection for pedestrians or
cyclists in case of an accident. Lightweight construction using fibre composites reduces weight, resulting in more
power with fewer emissions. Pneumatic textiles with a lifting function facilitates getting up stairs or overcoming level differences.
Lightweight fibre construction materials increase material and energy efficiency in machines and plants. Textile-based packaging materials from renewable raw materials are considered as standard. Fully automated textile production at the point of sale, including 3D printing, weaving, knitting or braiding guarantees short delivery times and individual
Self-cleaning furniture or upholstery covers make cleaning simple and easy, and light but durable lightweight furniture
facilitates frequent moving. Multifunctional wall surfaces may be used as displays and textile sensors monitor health. Intelligent light systems use daylight optimally and automatically control sun protection. Vegetable climate controllers
on textile-based materials optimise the room climate.
As a cross-sectoral technology, biotechnology makes an important contribution to many industries. This applies to the healthcare industry also, and particularly the pharmaceutical and medical engineering benefit from this technology.
Here we describe how biotechnology and fibre-based materials together create innovative solutions for the healthcare industry.
Both areas interact in two different ways: On the one hand, fibres can be functionalised using biotechnological approaches. This includes, for example, hollow fibres acting as deposits of active ingredients and releasing them in a targeted manner, or textile fibres carrying adult stem cells. However, biotechnological methods
can also be used for the production of fibres. This provides access to an enormous variety of materials. For example, specific polyamide or polyester fibres can be produced using biotechnology. In the future, this technology may also
be applied to alginate for textile wound dressings. Currently, the polysaccharide is extracted from algae. Because the composition of these alginates and therefore the properties of the fibres vary greatly, the Hohenstein Institute initiated the AlBioTex project together with BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg. It aims to obtain fibres of consistent quality through the biotechnologicalbased production of alginate.
Baden-Württemberg is a significant health location and is home to many companies from the medical engineering, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. The state is characterised by small and medium-sized companies. However, it is also home of several big companies such as Roche, Boehringer Ingelheim and Aesculap. Baden-Württemberg also has a broad and solid base in the area of fibre-based materials. This includes research institutions such as ITV Denkendorf, the Hohenstein Institute and NMI Reutlingen, to name just a few, and companies such as Jotec, Novalung and Gambro.
As the state-wide service agency, BIOPRO provides targeted support to the healthcare industries and the development of a bioeconomy in Baden-Württemberg. Experts from the textile and materials industry are welcome to discuss with BIOPRO options for innovations where biotechnology and medical engineering meet.
Electrification of the drive-train is happening and no longer a vision for the future. This development will continue over the next few years, from the various hybrid forms (mild, full plug-in or range extender) to fully battery-electric or fuel cell powered vehicles. Particularly for the automotive industry, this means that there will be a large-scale shift in the market: Some vehicle components and technologies will become obsolete and others will be added; shares
in the value adding chains may be redistributed between the various stakeholders and maybe even between economic regions. Being a crossindustry trend, electro-mobility will not only influence the automobile industry but will also
lead to the convergence of different industries.
In the context of this change in mobility, fibrebased materials play an important role. Besides carbon and glass fibre reinforced lightweight components, fibre materials – especially for a
vehicle’s thermal management – are highly significant. Energy-efficient thermal management for the interior or the conditioning of sensitive batteries may increase a vehicle’s range and reduce battery costs. Another example of how critical textile materials are for future mobility are high-performance polymer mats which are used in batteries and
fuel cells. Innovative and smart textiles such as phosphorescent yarns or sensor fibres also have the potential to be sustainable mobility solutions.
For years, numerous activities have been launched in the state of Baden-Württemberg
to support knowledge transfer between research and the industry and to develop common and cross-industry solutions. With both of its e-mobility initiatives – Elektromobilität I and II – the state’s government will have invested approximately
EUR 80 million by 2015, specifically targeting structural measures and projects to promote the transition from combustion engine to hybrid and electric or fuel cell drive systems. The core of this state initiative is the state
agency for electric mobility and fuel cell technology Baden-Württemberg, named e-mobil BW GmbH.
Fibre composite technologies are a significant component of lightweight construction technology – so significant that large parts of the public instantly associate lightweight construction with “carbon fibres”. Of course, lightweight construction is much more than carbon fibres, but this shows how important fibre-based materials are in the reduction of weight.
Indeed, modern lightweight construction could not be imaginable without fibre composite technology – in aircraft construction, where carbon fibre-based materials are already used for the main part of a construction, or in vehicle
construction, where lightweight constructions were employed even before the introduction of e-mobility. Even industries like mechanical or medical engineering and the construction industry have discovered the potential of fibre technology. It provides huge opportunities for those who are competent in the production and processing of fibres.
However, lightweight construction is more than simply replacing the traditional with new materials. Often it is possible to enhance conventional materials such as steel or aluminium – for example by combining them with plastic materials – to reduce weight. This so-called hybrid lightweight construction is complemented by constructive lightweight construction where weight can be considerably reduced by modified constructions following the example of nature, for instance.
Regardless of the way in which a lightweight product is developed or produced, in almost all cases, textile fibre technology plays an essential role in the production of its preliminary products. Fibre technology significantly influences the properties of a material. Its advantage is that these properties can be specifically adjusted to
the needs, which allows for “custom-tailored” material solutions. The downside of this fibrecomposite coin, however, is that there are no standardised material parameters available, which makes computer-based construction and design difficult. Before a new material is ready for marketing, comprehensive tests and certification procedures are usually necessary.
Cooperations of research institutions, universities and companies in the area of fibre technology combine their competencies and use the synergies for a type of lightweight construction that promises a bright future for textile engineering.
Baden-Württemberg’s creative industry has long discovered the advantages of fibre-based materials. Besides the state’s leading architects and civil engineers – after all, lightweight construction has had a long tradition at the University of Stuttgart – it is the state’s renowned scenographers, exhibition and fair designers who experiment with and use the new materials. The maturing LED technology allows creatives to chose from a growing number of luminous textiles
to design the lighting of a room, from decorative fabrics to carpets. Optical fibres are used in these applications; textile banners with integrated LEDs are used as huge screens.
Another location advantage of the local creative industry with regard to innovations is their close cooperation with research and development institutions – also in the area of textile fibres. It is important in this respect to push the stakeholders to provide the state’s creative industry with new materials and technologies in time. MFG Medien- und Filmgesellschaft plays an important part here because MFG was entrusted with the task of building a creative industry network in Baden-Württemberg in 2010. As the network managers of Netzwerk Kreativwirtschaft Baden-Württemberg, MFG systematically brings together 50 partners and more than 100 supporters from all sub-sectors of the creative industry and promotes and extends the interdisciplinary dialogue between high-tech companies and research institutions. Because innovations mainly take place where different industries and
Fibre-based materials are a cornerstone of raw material productivity and resource efficiency, for example with respect to the topic of lightweight construction. However, it is not the raw material itself that allows new functionalities or opens up attractive efficiency potentials – sustainable management means considering the full range of production including any material flows within an enterprise. Integrated eco-design approaches, cradle-to-cradle strategies and holistic lifecycle considerations are even looking beyond that and going a step further.
Fibre-based materials as substitutes for other materials may improve the ecobalance of a finished product or a company. Giving up the strict focus on the material itself and expanding it in production as a whole, the company or the product life-cycle creates additional new control options for optimising production ecologically and economically.
Resource efficiency as the sum of material and energy efficiency and environmental engineering, with all its facets of production-integrated and end-of-pipeline technologies, provides the matrix for production improvements. What seems so simple in theory is often very hard in practice: Production facilities are not fully amortised yet, investments in environmental and resource efficiency technologies may not have paid off yet, and often there is simply not enough time to consider the issue or there is a lack of knowledge of potential and options.
To correct this imbalance and to establish Baden- Württemberg as a supplier and also consumer of the best environmental and resource-efficient production technology, the state launched Umwelttechnik BW, the state agency for environmental technology and efficiency of resources Baden-Württemberg. The state agency sees itself as an expert hub and as an initiator and catalyst for more environmental engineering and resource efficiency in industrial processes. Bringing together matching partners from companies, communities and science for applied research or development projects is part of its service portfolio, as well as the organisation of practice-oriented events, especially for mediumsized firms.