Boost in revenue with textile intelligence expected
With a wide scope such as being conductive, heating, informing and power-generating, smart textiles are the perfect basis to develop new innovative products. Materials with textile intelligence just wait to be used in R&D-departments of medium-sized companies. A user conference in the beginning of March in Wolfurt (Austria) wants to provide interdisciplinary inspiration.
According to Prof. Dr.-Ing. Götz Gresser, Director of the Institute of Textile Technology and Process Engineering (ITV) in Denkendorf, one of the co-organisers, textiles developed in the institute have enormous revenue potential for suppliers in the fields of automotive, architecture, clothing and energy technology or furthermore regarding to interior design and medical technology. “We organise the Smart Textiles forum to let constructors and developers know which revolutionary materials are ready for take off. Science and small and medium sized companies from the German/Austrian/Swiss region come together here.”
The ITV has been working with intelligent functional textiles such as power transmitting tissues, light emitting textiles or assistance systems for elderly people for more than a decade now, says Gresser.
Enormous range of application
Smart Textiles have a forecasted growth rate of 20 to 30 percent worldwide. Numerous companies were inspired already to create new benefits and revenue mainstays using smart textiles. The conference will take place at Doppelmayr/Garaventa – the international market leader in producing cablecars that itself uses heating textiles already. Three examples of exhibitors in Wolfurt that are supposed to inspire other entrepreneurs are:
Sefar Holding AG, Thal (Switzerland): The globally operating manufacturer of precision fabrics for screen print and filtration (2,200 employees, 262 million Euro revenue) develops smart business solutions such as electronic fabrics. For five years now they have had a dedicated team working on that purpose. On the basis of transparent and non-transparent conductive textiles heating fabrics for “power applications” are produced. Furthermore transparent, conductive fabric based substrates for OLED-, photovoltaics- and other electronical applications are part of the product range.
Lately, fabrics can measure temperature and the flow rate or even produce heat during filtration. The basis of PowerMatrix-fabrics and fabric based substrates (SEFAR® TCF, SEFAR® TCS Planar) for electronic uses are often a PET-fabric with electronically conductive yarns woven into it additionally.
Texible GmbH, Hohenems (Austria): Coming from University Innsbruck Thomas Fröis and his textile research colleagues founded a startup working on the functional integration of textile fabrics. The aging society is the first target group for new developments ready for the market in 2017. One of those is an incontinence bed insert which communicates moistness to the nursing team. If required a mat that detects falling can be added as well. In general, says Fröis, textile intelligence improves the well-being of its users and processes, especially in the field of nursing 4.0. Another business segment Texible wants to introduce during the conference are textile high performance power collectors for battery systems and textile electrodes for fuel cells. Looking at the potential German market, the startup is looking for strong partners.
Strickmanufaktur Zella GmbH, Zella (Germany): A smart jacket for people with motoric disabilities was developed. The „intelligent” novelty allows the user to switch on and off several devices wirelessly and intuitively via the sleeve. According to the company, laundry care for the comfortable jacket, which is not available on the market yet, is supposed to be as easy as for any other knitwear.
Including all preceding formats, the 15 year old „SMART TEXTILES“-Forum, initiated by the Textile Research Institute of Thüringen-Vogtland (TITV) in Greiz, is the oldest European specialist event on that subject. The Forschungskuratorium Textil (FKT) as co-organiser emphasises the required interdisciplinarity between numerous industries for that growth sector.
„To provide fibres with electrical functions, it takes much more than pure textile competence“, says Managing Director Dr. Klaus Jansen.