Colloquia / Symposia

2016-08-30

SALTEX as a hub of interdisciplinary research and development

Two-day expert symposium raises its profile with top-class speakers Dornbirn. The debut event of SALTEX – Smart Textiles & Lightweight Materials will be held in a few months, on 5 and 6 October 2016. In response to the needs of the industry, the Vorarlberg business location – frequently referred to as the “textile Silicon Valley” of the Lake Constance region thanks to its complete textile value chain – has considerably accelerated the realisation of the new trade fair.
The region is internationally renowned as the fourth-largest producer of embroidery in the world with 150 companies. Science and research are the driving forces behind the economic success of the Vorarlberg textile industry.

The Research Institute for Textile Chemistry and Textile Physics in Dornbirn, an external institute of the University of Innsbruck, provides important impulses. University professor Thomas Bechtold, a globally renowned expert for electrochemical processes, fibres, polymer chemistry, and textile physiology, has been directing the institute since 1997. He has published 260 scientific articles and filed more than 20 patent applications since 1984. In 2015, he was awarded the research prize of the state of Vorarlberg. He is a member of the advisory board of the new trade fair and has been a great advocate and driving force for the project: “We consider SALTEX an important hub and catalyst for interdisciplinary research in the field of textiles. A diverse variety of research disciplines combine here, networks tighten, and the highly specialised companies participating as exhibitors gain opportunities for developing new, exciting projects. Although the debut event will be focussing on the Germanspeaking area, I think the catchment area can be expanded gradually to promote internationalisation.”

The interplay of a large number of heterogeneous industries – metal processing, plastics manufacturing, electronics, mechanical engineering, and robotics – and the convergence of different producers yield innovative, intelligent product concepts. According to Prof Bechtold, the embroiderers of Vorarlberg have pioneered this development considerably by channelling the industry expertise into technical application. He cites the example of incontinence pads fitted with sensors, which allow for proactive moisture management and lighten the workload of care staff in the respective institutions.

This product was developed in the context of an FFG project and is now commercially distributed by a start-up called Texible (www.texible.com).

New endowed chair at the Research Institute for Textile Chemistry and Textile Physics In April 2016, a new endowed chair was established at the Research Institute for Textile Chemistry and Textile Physics in Dornbirn. The new professorship is funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology and by the regional industry. Approximately three million EUR will be available over the course of the next five years. The professorship will focus precisely on those two topics that are most relevant for SALTEX: Smart textiles and advanced manufacturing in the lightweight construction industry. Smart specialisation with more efficient manufacturing technologies and accelerated automation options will be the main focal points of the research agenda. Leading textile companies in Vorarlberg are interconnected through a smart-textiles platform and jointly involved in common research projects.

Prof. Bechtold: “The great regional expertise in the textile industry will be realised as marketable innovations by means of interdisciplinary cooperation. In the lightweight construction sector, we are currently focussing on optimising manufacturing Technologies.

We are working particularly intensively with thermoplastic compounds and using the Tailored Fibre Placement (TFP) technology, which has been developed for complex fibre composite components. This method aims to position the fibres correctly in the fibre composite part on the basis of operational demands and maximum possible material conservation in order to create a ‘tailor-made’ component.” The SALTEX Symposium features exciting lectures in the fields of SMART and LIGHT:

Simultaneously to the SALTEX community platform, the Smart Textiles Symposium by the Austrian Smart Textiles Platform will be held for the fifth time. On Wednesday, 5 October, Smart Textiles will be the focus of the event; on 6 October, it will be fibre composite components.

The Smart Textiles lecture block will be opened by Dr Isa Hofmann from the IHOFMANN INTERNATIONAL agency. INTERDISCIPLINARY with her keynote lecture, “Smart Services World 2025: How digital disruption is changing business models and communication processes”. Two lectures are dedicated to medical applications: Dr Klaus Jansen, Managing Director of Forschungskuratorium Textil e.V., will be presenting on a variety of applications such as implants, therapy aides, and wound care with his fibre-based expertise under the headline of "Hightex for the Medical Industry”. University professor Werner Mohl from the Department for Cardiothoracic Surgery at AKH Vienna will be talking about “Smart Textiles as bionic structures in cardiovascular therapy”.

Further lectures will be delivered by Wolford AG, the University of Innsbruck with Prof. Thomas Bechtold, ITV Denkendorf with Prof. Markus Milwich, and TITV Greiz with Sabine Gimpel, MEng. Prof. Hubert Jäger of the Institute for Lightweight Construction and Plastics Technology, Dresden University of Technology, will be opening the lecture block on lightweight construction materials with a keynote speech on the topic of carbon-fibre reinforced plastics and the challenges of automation. Robert Lenferink, Director New Business Development, Ten Cate Advanced Composites will be presenting on “Smart thermoplastic composite technology for automotive applications”. The programme will be completed by a number of other speakers, including Schoeller GmbH, Otto Bock, Karl Mayer GmbH, and Getzner.

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