"futureTEX" - A pioneering, future-oriented model for traditional branches during the fourth industrial revolution
The Cotesa GmbH corporation in Mittweida produces lightweight construction components which are an integral part of Airbus planes or luxury cars. These products are not necessarily associated with the textile industry. But there are very close ties to this branch. “We actually use textile precursor products for our high-performance components made of fiber reinforced materials. Currently, standardized materials dominate here. But we’re interested in solutions which have already been customized for the final product so that less waste is generated and new functions can be designed into them,” the Managing Director, Dr. Udo Berthold, describes the link to textiles. That’s why the company is one of the futureTEX partners.
With this project, Saxony’s textile industry seeks to realign itself and create a pioneering, future-oriented model for traditional branches during the fourth industrial revolution. The Saxon Textile Research Institute (STFI) Chemnitz submitted this idea to the “Twenty20 – Partnership for Innovation” program, which had been launched by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), and was selected as one of the winners. Around 180 scientific institutions, commercial enterprises, and associations from all over Germany are all working under the leadership of the STFI on the components of this model. In Saxony’s textile industry, which is one of the oldest branches in the Free State, they’re to be developed and applied together with partners from mechanical engineering, textile engineering, electronics, computer science, and business administration.
The focus is not so much on clothing or home textiles. “We want to produce technical textiles efficiently which are, though, generally not manufactured in mass production. Most of this type of production has moved to the Far East. It’s our goal to bring new products to the market with the help of innovative ideas to assure sales opportunities and safeguard market potentials for local companies,” explains Andreas Berthel, Managing Director of the STFI.
The projects at the institute indicate in which direction the journey is heading. Expensive carbon fiber waste, for example, is given a new lease on life here. The innovation and market leader in nonwoven fabric research has developed a one-of-a-kind recycling method with which it was able to produce such initial prototypes as, for example, battery covers. Additional applications for technical textiles are found in horticulture and landscaping as well as in the rehabilitation of slopes and post-mining landscapes. The integration of optical fibers and sensor technology into textile structures creates entirely new possibilities for the early detection of dangerous situations and the development of early warning systems which are primarily used for the construction of bridges and railroad embankments as well as for flood protection measures. The same is true for the health care sector. Here, a stimulation current bodysuit already supports the treatment of patients. In the future, smart band-aids will send information to doctors who can then respond quickly with an effective therapy. Sensor technology in curtains, carpets, wallpaper, or furniture will trigger an alarm if something happens to elderly people or those who live alone.
For this new and, in part, very individual products, entirely new production processes are developed as well. That’s why the physical work environment is closely linked to modern information and communication technologies so that products can be manufactured in an economically viable manner already in quantities of just one item or more. This is accompanied by the transformation of work processes in line with the requirements of Industry 4.0. With futureTEX, Saxony’s textile industry is well on its way to achieve these objectives.Additional Links