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26.01.2021

DBU-Funding: From 3D Knitting Machines to Washing without Water

Environmental protection through digitalization - funding for start-ups

Clothing on-demand, a new type of textile cleaning and locally generated green electricity - these three business ideas of “Digitale Strickmanufaktur” (Krefeld), “Infinity Startup” (Aachen) and “prosumergy” (Kassel) convinced the Green Start-up Program’s jury of the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU). They will receive a total of around 370,000 euros in technical and financial support.

The DBU promotes company foundations and start-ups that combine solutions for the environment, ecology and sustainability in an innovative way with a focus on digitalization.
General conditions for promotion:

Environmental protection through digitalization - funding for start-ups

Clothing on-demand, a new type of textile cleaning and locally generated green electricity - these three business ideas of “Digitale Strickmanufaktur” (Krefeld), “Infinity Startup” (Aachen) and “prosumergy” (Kassel) convinced the Green Start-up Program’s jury of the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU). They will receive a total of around 370,000 euros in technical and financial support.

The DBU promotes company foundations and start-ups that combine solutions for the environment, ecology and sustainability in an innovative way with a focus on digitalization.
General conditions for promotion:

  • in the founding phase as well as start-ups up to 5 years old
  • up to 125,000€ per project
  • up to 24 months duration

A cloud service for retail
The “Digitale Strickmanufaktur” wants to change the clothing industry sustainably. The founders are developing a cloud service that is directly linked to retail. Customers of the " “Digitale Strickmanufaktur” can order individualized garments in which size, color and design are adapted to their wishes. The order data is then transferred using the cloud, an online storage medium. They can be retrieved at any place in the world.

First order - then produce
If a customer orders a hat, for example, the order is automatically transmitted to 3D knitting machines. Then production begins, followed by shipment of the goods. The “Digitale Strickmanufaktur” produces knitwear on demand completely automatically with robots and a 3D knitting machine.

In this way, sales can be planned for retailers and not too much clothing is produced. Additionally: The products are manufactured close to the customer in Germany. Long transport routes and times are eliminated.

Washing without washing machine
The “RefresherBoxx” of the “Infinity Startup” is basically a mobile textile cleaner that does not require water or detergent. “Using a combination of different physical methods, it disinfects, dries and refreshes all kinds of textiles - especially those that can't be put in the washing machine, like leather, velvet and silk,” explains founder Stefan Chang. The “RefresherBoxx” is gentler, more environmentally friendly and only takes 30 minutes for one washing phase. According to Chang, the mobile textile cleaning system can be used in the medical sector, but also in the private and leisure sector.

Local power for commerce and e-mobility
The start-up "prosumergy" offers building owners and tenants a low-cost power supply from renewable energies that are mainly generated locally. "With the help of the DBU, we want to further develop our energy supply approach. By means of standardization and digitization, we want to develop concepts for the decentralized power supply of commercial properties and charging solutions for e-mobility," says founder Lena Cielejewski.

25 founding teams already funded
The three founding teams will now be funded for two years in the DBU's Green Start-up program. "They bring together solutions for the environment, ecology and sustainability with a focus on digitalization in an innovative way," said DBU Start-up coordinator Dr. Stefanie Grade. 22 other companies have already convinced the selection committee of themselves since the program was launched.

Contact details
Digitale Strickmanufaktur PoC GmbH (Krefeld)
Connecting textile trade and automated textile production with the help of cloud services
Contact Mr. Christian Zarbl
URL: digitale-strickmanufaktur.de

Infinity StartUp GmbH (Aachen)
Development, production and distribution of cleaning equipment for textiles, especially using physical methods, as well as development of related applications.
Contact Mr. Stefan Chang
URL: refresherboxx.com

prosumergy GmbH (Kassel)
prosumergy GmbH realizes decentralized energy supply projects as project developer and energy supplier
Contact Christopher Neumann
URL: prosumergy.de

FULLY AUTOMATED QUALITY CONTROL MAKES HIGH-VISIBILITY CLOTHING EVEN SAFER Photo: LEEROY Agency, Pixabay
10.03.2020

FULLY AUTOMATED QUALITY CONTROL MAKES HIGH-VISIBILITY CLOTHING EVEN SAFER

High-visibility or “high-vis” clothing provides many people safety in their day-to-day work. Fraunhofer IGD has paired with textile service provider MEWA to develop an automated system for inspecting the quality of this clothing faster and more reliably, and thereby guarantee safety. Both companies have filed a joint patent for the system.

High-vis and protective clothing, like the kind worn by road workers, must meet certain standards prescribed by law for the safety of the wearer. Employers are liable for meeting these legal safety standards. On behalf of MEWA, the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD has developed a system to automate and optimize quality testing.

High-visibility or “high-vis” clothing provides many people safety in their day-to-day work. Fraunhofer IGD has paired with textile service provider MEWA to develop an automated system for inspecting the quality of this clothing faster and more reliably, and thereby guarantee safety. Both companies have filed a joint patent for the system.

High-vis and protective clothing, like the kind worn by road workers, must meet certain standards prescribed by law for the safety of the wearer. Employers are liable for meeting these legal safety standards. On behalf of MEWA, the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD has developed a system to automate and optimize quality testing.

Integrated optical quality control
Fraunhofer IGD has developed its quality control system with the assistance of MEWA Textil-Service AG and it will be used daily at two sites starting in 2020.
After being washed and dried, the articles of clothing run through a special photographing box on hangers and pictures are taken of the front and back. Fraunhofer software analyzes these pictures in real time and sends to the result to control software, which sends the clothing to other stations in the quality control process. The results of the inspection are saved in the system a valuable collection of data that is made available to MEWA in order to analyze and optimize the system as well as internal processes, such as the washing process.

Faster and more precise inspection
The high-vis clothing is inspected manually for quality by qualified employees. They inspect the washed articles of clothing for a number of aspects, including brightness and colorfastness of the high-visibility color as well as the integrity of the reflective strips. The automated solution by Fraunhofer IGD can assist employees with this visual inspection while speeding up the process at the same time. “With the help of the automated analysis, we can ensure to an even greater degree and with greater precision that the high-vis clothing meets strict safety standards even after being washed,” said Uwe Schmidt, head of engineering at MEWA. At MEWA’s locations in Schönbuch near Stuttgart and Gross Kienitz near Berlin, Fraunhofer IGD’s system is now being used in trials, with implementation at more locations being planned.

Inspection system is applicable to other industries
Fraunhofer IGD’s inspection system is available for implementation as a software module. This technology could also support other industries: Automated returns classification for the mail-order trade or use in textile recycling would be conceivable, though the technology would need to be seamlessly integrated into existing systems and processes. The development team at Fraunhofer IGD is currently working on quality controls that use not only photographs but also video recordings as well as on analyzing the recordings in real time. The significantly increased number of product views will cover every aspect of the inspection with even greater precision.

About IGD
Fraunhofer IGD is the international leading research institution for applied visual computing — image- and model-based information technology that combines computer graphics and computer vision. In simple terms, it is the ability to turn information into images and to extract information from images. All technological solutions by Fraunhofer IGD and its partners are based on visual computing.

In computer graphics, people generate, edit, and process images, graphs, and multi-dimensional models in a computeraided manner. Examples are applications of virtual and simulated reality.

Computer vision is the discipline that teaches computers how to “see”. In the process, a machine sees its environment by means of a camera and processes information using software. Typical applications can be found in the field of Augmented Reality.

SARD Durable Labeling with lanthanide-based Security Substance ©wederundgut AG
05.04.2016

DURABLE LABELING WITH LANTHANIDE-BASED SECURITY SUBSTANCE

  • Forgery-safe Branded Fashion via washable Authentification Certificate

In 2014 German customs seized about 1.3 million counterfeit garments and accessories worth EUR 10.94 million. Particularly renowned brands suffer from piracy and try using different measures, such as hologram labels or special sewing yarns to protect their fashion - so far with little success, because professional counterfeiters can copy these marks most convincing.

  • Forgery-safe Branded Fashion via washable Authentification Certificate

In 2014 German customs seized about 1.3 million counterfeit garments and accessories worth EUR 10.94 million. Particularly renowned brands suffer from piracy and try using different measures, such as hologram labels or special sewing yarns to protect their fashion - so far with little success, because professional counterfeiters can copy these marks most convincing.

But that could change now: As the first brand apparel manufacturer the Swiss wederundgut ag recently added on their UNiSONO -Shirts a labeling with a lanthanide-based SARD - safety substance which is completely tamper-proof due to high-covalent and doped crystal lattice. It has a unique, tailored composition with individual emission spectra and can be detected and deciphered only with an especially for this application developed laser measuring instrument. The incorporation in a multi-layer, firmly with the shirt fabric glued label, the marking cannot be destroyed neither by the wash liquor nor by mechanical influences during the washing process.

"Brand counterfeiting is becoming more and more a problem for the fashion industry.  Especially well-known brands are suffering from the proliferation of plagiarism" Ueli Fish, CEO of wederundgut ag, explains. "It is therefore in our own interest as textile manufacturers, to find ways to make our products clearly marked as identifiable originals."

Within the sector many protective measures have already been tried, but without achieving a long term desired effect: One company for example works with holograms on the label. For professional plagiarists a hologram provides no bigger hurdle in these days, stated Dieter Ebert, CTO at the product protection specialist swiss authentication research and development AG (SARD) explains. As another possibility sewing threads will be soaked with safety fluids. "The disadvantage is that all known substances will sooner or later be completely washed out of the fabric in the washing process," the expert said. Several manufacturers of high-quality functional wear labeled their products temporarily with RFID chips. However, they also were destroyed in the washing process sooner or later - partly through the water, partially mechanically, so that this solution has been abandoned. Others prefer to educate their customers trying to explain differences between original and copied patches.

Individual, clearly identifiable marking

For the marking with the by SARD developed safety substance wederundgut ag decided due to the utter counterfeit security and adaptability for different applications. "The substance contains a custom mixture of lanthanides, which form a very complex, high-covalent and doped crystal lattice," the CTO explains. "In the production of a patented process at a defined point some foreign substances in the smallest amounts will be added that changes the emission spectrum significantly." By excitation in the UV or IR range the substance sends the customized optical spectra. These are stored in an associated detector, which has been developed by SARD for this application, and can only be recognized by the latter. All mixtures of the substance are stable at temperatures far above 1,700°C, resistant to acids, bases and radiation, highly resistant to chemicals and toxicologically safe. The particles, which generally have a size of about 1 to 10 microns, also allow no interactions with any other substances.

A decisive advantage of the substance is that the production process is not possible to replicate due to the artificial emission spectra: "Through the endowment spectra will be generated, of which it cannot be determined which elements are involved. Therefor a replica of the substance through reverse engineering is not possible, Ebert says.

Also the laser measuring device cannot be manipulated, since it has its own software and a virus free operating system and uses for algorithm and cryptography the FPGA technology. When evaluating the marking SARD also focuses on the key-lock principle: "The two independent emission spectra of custom substances serve as the key. They are stimulated and measured by the two independent laser systems of the detector”, so the CTO. “Decoding is performed with in the device stored, cryptographically encrypted information. They therefore act as a lock." Only when the correct substance is detected, a protected algorithm shows the customer-specific information on the display of the detector. This feature ensures a highly secure authentication.

Not leachable substance

In addition to the protection against forgery wederundgut is demanding further properties on the marking. "The label should not get an optically negative change, should be completely hypoallergenic and should remain from the cost point on an acceptable level," Fish says. The most important point for the textile manufacturer however was, that even after repeated washing the substance remains detectable: "That was at first a great challenge for us," Ebert says. "If we would have brought he SARD-substance in a conventional manner into the material, for example just with a color - as with solutions of other manufacturers - then there would have been the risk that the substance would be washed out by the surfactants of the detergent. Therefore we had to find at first a suitable carrier material. Together with the Munich label specialists RATHGEBER GmbH & Co. KG SARD finally developed a solution in which the substance will be incorporated into an iron-on label made of plastic composite material from which it cannot be removed. "This label is produced in several layers," Ebert says. "In one of them the SARD-substance will be incorporated and permanently sealed with another layer."

The label corresponds optically with the known company label of UNiSONO, the safety substance is difficult to detect with the bare eye. The final label is, among other things, resistant to alkalis, chemical cleaning agents, UV radiation, mechanical stress, acids, weather influences and keeps temperatures from -30 to 120°C. It will be ironed onto the shirt using a special hot-melt adhesive. This agent is very resistant and does not dissolve from the fabric, even at very frequent washing as is common for example in sports clothing. "At this project together with SARD we achieved great results very fast. With the current result, a very uncomplicated solution for us, we are very satisfied,” Fish explains, who puts the security label directly in the clothing factory on the shirts. “In the future we'd like to get a label that is even more soft and thinner than the current one. We intend to work on it together with SARD," the CEO said.