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Fraunhofer IZM: Jessica Smarsch (c) Jessica Smarsch
01.12.2020

Fraunhofer IZM: High-Tech Fashion – art and science for the clothes of tomorrow

For most people, the word "fashion" evokes thoughts of cuts, colors and patterns - but why not of live evaluations of vital functions or training sessions for rehabilitation patients? Up to now, products of the fashion industry have been largely analogous. The project Re-FREAM, however, was created to design smart clothes in the digital area. Here, researchers and artists work side by side, developing innovative and sustainable ideas and implementation options for the fashion industry, while simultaneously providing impulses for user-oriented synergies between textiles and technology.

For most people, the word "fashion" evokes thoughts of cuts, colors and patterns - but why not of live evaluations of vital functions or training sessions for rehabilitation patients? Up to now, products of the fashion industry have been largely analogous. The project Re-FREAM, however, was created to design smart clothes in the digital area. Here, researchers and artists work side by side, developing innovative and sustainable ideas and implementation options for the fashion industry, while simultaneously providing impulses for user-oriented synergies between textiles and technology.

The writer Maxim Gorki summed up the connection between two social spheres that were long believed to be irreconcilable: "Just as science is the intellect of the world, art is its soul". In the project Re-FREAM they are connected because fashion is not limited to the decision of the external, it is directly afflicted with sociological, technological and ecological world views. It is less and less sufficient to present only the beautiful, because the dark sides of the fashion industry must also be uncovered and countered with sustainable production cycles and fair working conditions. It is precisely this rethinking and redesigning of processes, production methods, but also of functionality and traditions in the world of fashion that is part of the Re-FREAM project.

The aim is to create an interaction between fashion, design, science and urban manufacturing in order to combine creative visions with sustainable technological solutions. In teams, artists and scientists developed projects together and then presented their innovative aesthetics at the virtual Ars Electronica Festival 2020.

The cooperation with Fraunhofer IZM's scientists opens up entirely new technological possibilities for artists: Microelectronics not only serves as a fashion accessory but is also brings new functions to clothing. With the help of integration technologies, clothing can be integrated into networks and textile-integrated sensor technology can be used, which opens up perspectives of wearable applications in the field of e-health.

One difficulty that Fraunhofer researchers are facing is the electronic contact points between electronics and textiles, because these must be manufacturable on an industrial scale and function reliably under typical textile mechanical stress and washing without any loss of performance. The electronic modules are a further challenge. At Fraunhofer IZM, the electronic components are miniaturized to such an extent that they do not stand out in the garment. The connecting conductor tracks are finally laminated or embroidered onto the fabrics.

Each sub-project in Re-FREAM is a unique joint effort, a fact that reflects the versatility of the cooperation partners. The Italian designer Giulia Tomasello, for example, wants to reveal taboos around female health in her project "Alma" and realize a monitoring of the vaginal flora. The team consisting of designers, an anthropologist and Fraunhofer researchers is developing underwear with an integrated pH sensor, designed to enable a non-invasive diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis and fungal diseases in everyday life and prevent serious inflammation.

In the gusset of the underwear, the reusable biosensor collects data and transmits them to a module measuring approximately 1 cm². Thanks to a modular design, the microcontroller can be easily removed from the textiles. The textile sensor, too, can be removed from the underwear. In addition to the technological solution, aesthetic requirements are another main focus. Other potential applications would be the monitoring of abnormal uterine bleeding as well as menopause. "Through close cooperation with the artists, we have gained very special insights into the user's perspective, and they in turn into that of application-oriented technologies. We have always challenged each other and have now found a solution that combines medical technology, wearables and a circular production method to empower women," says Max Marwede, who provided technical support for "Alma" at Fraunhofer IZM.

In the "Connextyle" project around designer and product developer Jessica Smarsch, the team also focuses on developing user-oriented garments: The tops, which are equipped with textile printed circuit boards and laminated EMG sensors, measure muscle activity and thus optimize rehabilitation processes for patients. An app provides visual feedback from the collected data, generates reports on the healing process and makes it easier for therapists to adapt the measures ideally.

Soft Robotics are the key point in the "Lovewear" project, because here inclusive underwear was developed, which is intended to help people with physical limitations in particular to explore their own intimacy and develop a greater awareness of their own body. Through interaction with a connected pillow, which functions as an interface, compressed air inserts are activated in the lace fabric. Instead of the commonly used silicon-based materials, Soft Robotics are made of textiles and thermoplastic materials. The researchers thus avoid the long curing process of silicone-based approaches and enable faster and more cost-effective mass production with available textile machines.

Particularly challenging and at the same time fruitful is the collaboration in creating sustainable and circular production designs in fashion. Ecological principles are taken into account at the design stage, minimizing negative environmental impacts throughout the product life cycle. This includes the reliability of the component contacts, the length of time the sensors adhere to the textile, the choice of materials and the modular design for reuse of the microcontrollers. However, the teams do not create individual pieces - they want to show that the path to high-tech fashion can also be an environmentally friendly one. They also worked on circular business models that fit the sustainable mission of the projects.

Thus Fraunhofer IZM’s expertise in the fields of e-textiles and circular design represents a considerable added value in the Re-FREAM project. With further investigations on suitable conductive materials, the researchers are currently developing sensory textiles and textile-suitable interconnection technologies. They are also working on thermoplastic substrates that can be integrated into almost any textile.

Re-FREAM is part of the STARTS (Science + Technology + Arts) program, which is funded as an initiative of the European Commission within the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM

Neonyt is going back “On Air” (c) Messe Frankfurt
24.11.2020

Neonyt is going back “On Air” - No physical winter edition in January 2021

The ongoing, difficult situation surrounding COVID-19 and the latest decisions made by the German government are once again making it impossible to plan Neonyt – and as a result, the physical event, from 19-21 January 2021, will no longer be taking place. A small consolation: the digital community format “Neonyt On Air” will be entering into its second round instead.

The ongoing, difficult situation surrounding COVID-19 and the latest decisions made by the German government are once again making it impossible to plan Neonyt – and as a result, the physical event, from 19-21 January 2021, will no longer be taking place. A small consolation: the digital community format “Neonyt On Air” will be entering into its second round instead.

After the COVID-19 situation eased in many places towards the end of summer and contact rules and travel restrictions were eased or lifted completely, the entire sector, and therefore also the trade fair and event industry, were looking ahead to a new start: “It wasn’t exactly “business as usual”, but we were hoping that there wouldn’t be a second lockdown,” says Olaf Schmidt, Vice President of Textiles & Textile Technologies at Messe Frankfurt. “But this is precisely the scenario we are faced with now and of course had to make a decision to protect the health and safety our exhibitors, visitors and also our employees.” Due to rapidly increasing infection rates and the latest decisions made by the German government, the organisers have been left with no choice but to cancel the winter edition of Neonyt.

But the sustainability community doesn’t have to forgo Neonyt completely. “The need of our exhibitors and visitors to interact and cooperate in person has only increased during the past few months,” says Thimo Schwenzfeier, Show Director of Neonyt. “A need that, after a forced one-year break, we would have loved to fulfil with a face-to-face event, but now we are having to do that virtually and in a reduced form.” Like last summer, January will see the return of the digital “Neonyt on Air” format – in numerous talks, panel discussions and masterclasses the community will be discussing the latest developments and innovations from the sustainable fashion and textile industry in the week from 18-22 January 2021. Further information about the line-up will follow on the Neonyt website and in the newsletter in the coming weeks.

The exhibitors’ order business has also been taken into consideration in the modified plans: thanks to Neonyt’s cooperation with B2B marketplace The Brand Show Circular, brands will have the opportunity to position themselves in an international order setting, maintain existing business contacts and acquire new customers – despite contact and travel restrictions. The digital services of the B2B platform range from classic marketing and order activities down to virtual showrooms with multimedia content. Interested exhibitors have already been informed in Page 2 Neonyt The global hub for fashion, sustainability and innovation Neonyt On Air, 18-22 January 2021 detail about the terms and conditions of participation.

Source:

Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH

17.11.2020

KfW: EUR 20 million for textile workers affected by the Corona pandemic

  • Rapid assistance to more than 200 000 people affected

Many hundreds of thousands of textile workers in Bangladesh are at risk of sliding into poverty as a result of the outbreak of the Corona pandemic. According to EU estimates, about half of the four to five million workers in the sector have either been laid off or made redundant since spring 2020 – in some cases without social security to back them up. To mitigate the dramatic economic consequences, the EU is now redirecting its existing sector budget support to Bangladesh. From now on, around EUR 90 million is to be channelled into a new government programme to finance wage substitution benefits for workers made redundant in the textile sector - including the leather and shoe industries – or at least to provide a short-term interim solution for workers who have been dismissed. German Financial Cooperation (FC) is now increasing these EU funds by EUR 20 million.

  • Rapid assistance to more than 200 000 people affected

Many hundreds of thousands of textile workers in Bangladesh are at risk of sliding into poverty as a result of the outbreak of the Corona pandemic. According to EU estimates, about half of the four to five million workers in the sector have either been laid off or made redundant since spring 2020 – in some cases without social security to back them up. To mitigate the dramatic economic consequences, the EU is now redirecting its existing sector budget support to Bangladesh. From now on, around EUR 90 million is to be channelled into a new government programme to finance wage substitution benefits for workers made redundant in the textile sector - including the leather and shoe industries – or at least to provide a short-term interim solution for workers who have been dismissed. German Financial Cooperation (FC) is now increasing these EU funds by EUR 20 million.

"The textile sector," says KfW office manager Anirban Kundu, "is the backbone of the economy in Bangladesh. The export share of the textile industry alone accounts for 86% of the economy, and the total trade volume is around USD 40 billion. If it is doing badly, the whole country is doing badly."

The corona pandemic is therefore causing enormous disturbances in the sector. Many orders were cancelled and goods already produced were often not taken. "Even though the situation has eased somewhat in the meantime," Kundu continues, "things remain critical - not least because of increased price pressure or because orders have not reached the previous level." As a result, the people affected find themselves in an emergency situation that threatens their very existence. Some employees on leave of absence only receive wage substitution benefits for the first 45 days. Dismissed employees who were not previously employed for a certain minimum period of time do not receive any support at all.

Still many workers on leave even though production resumes
In April 2020, the Bangladeshi government launched four economic support packages totalling around EUR 7.3 billion to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the economy. With the emergency aid now launched at short notice, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is topping up the existing EU sector budget support of EUR 93 million by up to EUR 20 million. This grant to the national budget for 2020 not only makes it possible to re-finance wage substitution payments for released textile workers, but also provides support, at least in the short term, to those who are particularly hard hit by a dismissal: for example mothers who do not receive benefits after the birth of a child, or those women and men who have been employed by a company for less than a year.

From November onwards, they are to receive the equivalent of around EUR 30 per month, initially for a maximum of three months, and possibly more. To ensure that this money reaches its destination, it will be transferred electronically to the bank accounts of those concerned via appropriate government platforms. The relevant export associations in the textile sector provide monthly updated figures on the number of workers released or dismissed.

"Subsidy does not release employers from their obligations"
Some 215,000 workers benefit directly from the payments through the German contribution alone, but indirectly almost four times as many benefit from them: Not only the family members, but also the communities where the textile workers live, as well as transport companies, street traders and other local service providers. Without this rapid support and the resumption of production, lasting economic damage to Bangladesh's already small and fragile economy can be expected. But Anirban Kundu also makes it clear: "It is by no means the intention to release employers from their legal obligations to continue to pay wages. Rather, the aim is to ensure that the emergency aid reaches workers who are no longer entitled to statutory continued payment of wages, so that they can at least make up for some of their misery."

 

 

Cotton (c) pixabay
10.11.2020

Fashion and textiles industry keen to go green despite COVID-19 pandemic

  • New research shows business leaders at top fashion, retail and textile businesses are putting sustaina-bility drive first, despite COVID-19 pandemic
  • The power of data in the effort to ‘go green’ is well recognized, but patchy performance suggests more access to better quality data needed to help turbocharge change
  • Despite Covid-19, fashion leaders are confident that fast, affordable and sustainable fashion is realistic, with crisis seen as opportunity to recharge sustainability efforts 

New research reveals the extent of the global fashion industry's commitment to sustainability, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, with sustainability ranked as the second most important strategic objective for businesses in the sector .

  • New research shows business leaders at top fashion, retail and textile businesses are putting sustaina-bility drive first, despite COVID-19 pandemic
  • The power of data in the effort to ‘go green’ is well recognized, but patchy performance suggests more access to better quality data needed to help turbocharge change
  • Despite Covid-19, fashion leaders are confident that fast, affordable and sustainable fashion is realistic, with crisis seen as opportunity to recharge sustainability efforts 

New research reveals the extent of the global fashion industry's commitment to sustainability, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, with sustainability ranked as the second most important strategic objective for businesses in the sector .

The new research, from the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), is like Puma, H&M and Adidas. Explored in a new report, ‘Is Sustainability in Fashion?’ the research comes at a time when the industry finds itself at a crossroads: whether to continue to invest in sustainability, or row back in light of the pandemic.

Sustainability is business critical, say fashion, retail and textile leaders  
In defiance of the pandemic, the new data shows that for many of the world's biggest brands, sustaina-bility is now business critical. The majority of fashion, retail and textile leaders surveyed (60%), named implementing sustainability measures as a top two strategic objective for their business, second only to improving customers’ experience (ranked first by 64%). This contrasts starkly with the fewer than one in six (14%) that listed 'rewarding shareholders' as a top objective.

Leaders report they’re introducing sustainability measures throughout the supply chain, from sourcing sustainably produced raw materials (65%), introducing a circular economy approach to their business and cutting greenhouse gasses (51% apiece) and investing in new technologies like 3D printing and blockchain (41%).  Overall, the majority (73%) were optimistic that sustainable, fast and affordable fash-ion is achievable.

Data matters
A key finding of the research is that data matters for sustainability. When asked what measures they were implementing today to be more sustainable, collecting data from across the business and in the supply chain to measure performance was listed at the very top of business leaders’ list of priorities by 53%, second only to developing and implementing an environmental sustainability strategy with meas-urable targets, favoured by almost six in ten (58%).

And data is not important for the immediate term only –  three in ten (29%) said the availability of relia-ble data holds the key to greater sustainability over the next decade, while almost three-quarters of industry leaders (73%) stated their support for global benchmarks and thresholds as an effective means of measuring sustainability performance and driving progress in the industry.

But data collection is patchy
However, although brands clearly recognize the importance of data, the research’s findings on data collection indicates that top fashion brands, retailers and textile businesses may find sourcing good quality data a challenge.

While business leaders report relatively high rates of data collection on supplier sustainability practices based on a survey of 150 leading executives from top fashion, retail and textile business across Europe and the US and interviews with leading brands (65%) and worker rights and workplace health and safety in the supply chain (62%), a significant proportion (45%) of businesses do not track greenhouse gas emissions across production, manufacturing and distribution of the products they sell, while 41% don’t track the amount of water and energy being used to produce the raw materials they source.

Looking to the future, over a quarter (26%) of respondents saw a lack of available, easily-accessible data as hampering collaboration on sustainability across the industry. As some respondents in interview pointed out, while collecting data could be hard it is important.  

Commenting on the findings, Gary Adams, President of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, said: "It is clear that brands are faced with a challenge on driving forward their sustainability efforts. At the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol we know that accurate, reliable data supports businesses in this work - providing not only the evidence to show hard work and progress, but the insight to drive further improvements. We pro-vide one of the most robust data collection mechanisms available for an essential material – cotton – for unparalleled transparency.”  

Partnership offers path to further progress
An additional key finding is that fashion, retail and textile business clearly cannot drive change in isola-tion: collaboration is needed. According to one respondent, from Reformation, this is already happen-ing. “We’re energized to see collaboration and cooperation across the industry and believe that will only increase over time.”

However, when it comes to external support to help guide that progress, business leaders do not nec-essarily perceive further regulation as the answer.  The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and government regulation were each given equal weight in driving sustainability change, both cited by a quarter of respondents (24% apiece). Regulatory requirements were also ranked by only a third (33%) of the business leaders surveyed as being within the top three factors that will drive sustainability pro-gress over the next decade.  

Jonathan Birdwell, Regional Head of Public Policy and Thought Leadership, The Economist Intelligence Unit: “It’s clear from the survey results and our interviews with business leaders that the industry is committed to driving progress on its sustainability performance. We were particularly struck by the fact that sustainability is largely considered as pre-competitive – behind the scenes brands are sharing re-sources and lessons learned.”

The impact of Covid-19  
This determination on sustainability flies in the face of COVID-19 uncertainty, although when asked their view on the pandemic, just over half (54%) of respondents said they thought it would make sustainabil-ity less of a priority within the industry.

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol is a new initiative that sets a new standard in sustainably grown cotton. By working closely with growers, the U.S. Trust Protocol provides clear, consistent data on six key sus-tainability metrics, including GHG emissions, water use, soil carbon, soil loss, independently audited through Control Union Certification. For the first time, brands can access annualized farm level data and trace their cotton from field to 'laydown'.

Research based on quantitative survey of 150 executives in the fashion, retail and textile industry based in Europe and the United States undertaken by the Economist Intelligence Unit between 9th July and 28th July 2020. The survey was complemented by qualitative insight from interviews with ten professionals in the fashion and sustainability space.

Emma4Drive (c) Fraunhofer ITWM
03.11.2020

EMMA4Drive - Dynamic human model for more safety and comfort in autonomous vehicles

  • DFG and Fraunhofer support trilateral project on autonomous driving

For many employees, it is an inviting vision of the future: to drive to work in their own car and still make good use of the travel time: Reading news, checking e-mails or relaxing and enjoying the first coffee of the day. In the future, passengers of autonomous vehicles will be able to pursue new activities. However, this will require new (software) tools to understand customers’ expectations, strengthen trust and demonstrate safety. With the EMMA4Drive project, the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are funding the development of a dynamic human model for the development of (partially) autonomously driving vehicles.

  • DFG and Fraunhofer support trilateral project on autonomous driving

For many employees, it is an inviting vision of the future: to drive to work in their own car and still make good use of the travel time: Reading news, checking e-mails or relaxing and enjoying the first coffee of the day. In the future, passengers of autonomous vehicles will be able to pursue new activities. However, this will require new (software) tools to understand customers’ expectations, strengthen trust and demonstrate safety. With the EMMA4Drive project, the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are funding the development of a dynamic human model for the development of (partially) autonomously driving vehicles.

Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM and the company fleXstructures are developing a muscle-activated human model together with scientists from the Institute for Engineering and Computational Mechanics (ITM) at the University of Stuttgart.

This model dynamically simulates the interaction of human body parts and the vehicle seat during driving maneuvers. The resulting software prototype, EMMA4Drive, will be used as a digital image of the passenger and will analyze and evaluate his safety and ergonomics during driving maneuvers.

Realistic movements instead of quasi-static investigations
So far, human models have been used either in crash simulations to estimate the risk of injury or in ergonomic analyses. In crash analyses, detailed, computationally intensive models are used for calculations in the millisecond range, which are not suitable for the simulation of dynamic driving maneuvers, because here longer processes have to be simulated. In contrast, human models for ergonomics analysis are based on the simplified kinematics of a multi-body model and so far, only allow quasi-static investigations. Realistic postures and movements during new activities can only be modeled with a lot of effort using these models.

"The by us developed prototypical human model EMMA uses an optimization algorithm to automatically calculate new postures and movement sequences with the associated muscle activities," explains Dr. Joachim Linn, head of the department "Mathematics for the Digital Factory" at the Fraunhofer ITWM, the special feature of EMMA. "This means that the new motion sequences for (partially) autonomous driving can be implemented and examined comparatively easily in the simulation model - for example when the driver takes over the steering wheel."

EMMA4Drive thus enables a comparatively simple implementation of new movement patterns and an efficient virtual examination of safety, comfort and ergonomics in (partially) autonomous driving. "Our goal is to have a further developed prototype of our digital human model EMMA available at the end of the project, which we can use to investigate and improve seating and operating concepts when driving semi-autonomous or fully autonomous vehicles," Joachim Linn explains.

DFG and Fraunhofer support six trilateral projects with EUR 5 million
In the trilateral project EMMA4Drive, the University of Stuttgart contributes extensive experience in the fields of active human modeling, vehicle safety and model reduction. The Fraunhofer ITWM contributes expertise in multibody-based human modeling and motion optimization by means of optimal control. The company fleXstructures develops, distributes and maintains the software family IPS including the digital human model IPS IMMA, which simulates motion sequences during assembly work.

"EMMA4Drive - Dynamic human model for autonomous driving" is one of six projects funded by the DFG and Fraunhofer. The aim of the EUR five million funding is to involve companies in research innovations at an early stage. Three project partners each from universities, Fraunhofer Institutes and industry are cooperating on the basis of a joint working program. The Fraunhofer experts take the lead in the exploitation of the project results for the application partners or other interested parties from industry.

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM