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09.11.2021

NGST - Next Generation Protective Textiles

  • Efficient Production of Novel, High-Quality Infection-Protective Textiles

 
Considerable shortages of protective textiles, especially respirators, occurred during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, which were exacerbated by the lack of sufficient production capacity in Germany and the EU at the time. Short-term retooling at EU companies as well as importing goods often did not lead to success, as these protective textiles were of highly variable quality, which had a negative impact on safety.

The "Next Generation Protective Textiles" initiative aims to remedy this situation by researching new approaches for the production of high-quality protective textiles.

The "NGST" project is divided into several subtasks
The project includes:

  • Efficient Production of Novel, High-Quality Infection-Protective Textiles

 
Considerable shortages of protective textiles, especially respirators, occurred during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, which were exacerbated by the lack of sufficient production capacity in Germany and the EU at the time. Short-term retooling at EU companies as well as importing goods often did not lead to success, as these protective textiles were of highly variable quality, which had a negative impact on safety.

The "Next Generation Protective Textiles" initiative aims to remedy this situation by researching new approaches for the production of high-quality protective textiles.

The "NGST" project is divided into several subtasks
The project includes:

  • qualified selection of basic materials
  • studies on up-scaling to create the conditions for a rapid expansion of production capacities
  • development of novel antiviral coatings
  • comprehensive biological and material science analysis to verify the improved properties and also to open up new methods of quality control.

The protective textiles to be developed in the project have a wide range of applications beyond use in the medical field and in civil protection. In principle, wherever immediate cleaning and disinfection are difficult or special filtration tasks are necessary, such as in mobile or stationary filter systems for air purification or for individual personal protection.

In this project, the Fraunhofer IGCV is researching the development of a manufacturing process for nonwovens as a basis for infection protection and filtration media based on wet nonwoven technology. Compared to the state of the art (meltblown technology), this is potentially characterised by significantly increased production capacities as well as increased flexibility with regard to material variety. The main challenges here are the very high quality requirements based on low basis weights for processing the finest possible micro-staple fibres..
          
Pursuing novel approaches to increase quality and productivity in the production of protective textiles
The aim is to provide optimised nonwoven materials as a starting material for subsequent antiviral coatings, and to assess and demonstrate the high technological potential of wet nonwoven technology in this field of application.

For this purpose, an existing pilot wetlaid nonwoven line was specifically modified on a pilot plant scale. This makes it possible to produce nonwoven materials from micro-staple fibres in the required very high quality in terms of uniformity, basis weight, blending and thickness profile with high reproducibility. A standard PP nonwoven was used as a comparison system, which was produced according to the current state of the art using meltblown technology. In addition to the PP comparison variants, however, the processing of PLA, viscose and PET staple fibres, among others, was also investigated. The focus here is on maximum fibre fineness (microfibres) in each case in order to achieve the largest possible specific fibre surface or effective area in the nonwoven. In order to emphasise the significantly increased flexibility of wetlaid technology, particularly innovative variants based on modified bi-component fibres with maximised fibre surface area as well as split fibres are also being conceptually tested.

In addition to aspects of direct material and process development, the scale of the pilot plant provides a comprehensive data basis for estimating a later scaling up to an industrial series. This should create a technological starting point for the ramp-up of an efficient, national production of fleece-based infection control materials based on wet-laying technology.

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology IGCV

Graphic: Pixabay
12.01.2021

East German Textile and Clothing Industry recorded a significant Drop in Sales in 2020

  • vti calls on health textiles purchasers to place more orders with domestic manufacturers
  • East German textile and clothing industry faces the Covid-19 crises with new ideas and products
  • Clothing sector more affected than the textile sector

The Association of the North-East German Textile and Clothing Industry (vti) calls on decision-makers in politics and authorities as well as in clinics and long-term care to order far more health protection textiles from local manufacturers than before. "That would be a logical step towards future-oriented, sustainable business - and furthermore in an exceptionally tough crisis situation. We are happy to arrange appropriate contacts with our companies," emphasized Dr.-Ing. Jenz Otto, Managing Director of the Chemnitz-based industry association, during an online press conference on January 8, 2021.

  • vti calls on health textiles purchasers to place more orders with domestic manufacturers
  • East German textile and clothing industry faces the Covid-19 crises with new ideas and products
  • Clothing sector more affected than the textile sector

The Association of the North-East German Textile and Clothing Industry (vti) calls on decision-makers in politics and authorities as well as in clinics and long-term care to order far more health protection textiles from local manufacturers than before. "That would be a logical step towards future-oriented, sustainable business - and furthermore in an exceptionally tough crisis situation. We are happy to arrange appropriate contacts with our companies," emphasized Dr.-Ing. Jenz Otto, Managing Director of the Chemnitz-based industry association, during an online press conference on January 8, 2021. “We don't understand the buying resistance concerning health textiles, even though the demand is huge. It is just as incomprehensible why there are still no noteworthy orders from authorities. In spring, the German federal government had already announced to provide 1 billion Euro with its economic stimulus package for national epidemic reserves for personal protective equipment. The federal states also had to take action in this regard and stock up. We urgently await the long-announced tenders for equipping the pandemic reserve stock. It is important that the purchase price is not the only measure of all things. Rather, criteria such as standard-compliant quality, traceable supply chains, the possibility of needs-based reorders and the multiple use of textiles are decisive for the safety of the population.”

When supply chains worldwide collapsed at the beginning of 2020, both authorities and many care and health facilities turned to textile companies for help. Many manufacturers launched both everyday masks and protective textiles that could be used in healthcare at short notice.
"These include highly effective bacteria and virus-repellent reusable products that enable effective textile management in the healthcare sector and at the same time prevent the piles of single-use waste from growing there," explained vti chairman Thomas Lindner, managing director of Strumpfwerk Lindner GmbH, Hohenstein-Ernstthal: “When the cheap imports from Asia reinstated, however, the interest decreased significantly. Nevertheless, numerous companies have continued to invest in new technology and aligned their production accordingly. For example, completely new production lines of face masks have been set up at several locations. Do not forget: The very expensive test procedures for medical and health textiles are a major challenge for us, the medium-sized businesses. In addition, there are still too few accredited test and certification bodies in Germany.” The fact that the companies were able to adapt to the new requirements at this rapid pace was primarily possible, because around 30 local companies and research institutes have been part of the health textiles network "health.textil", which is controlled by the vti and supported by the Free State of Saxony, for several years now. This alliance cooperates closely with practice partners such as the University Clinic of Dresden and the Elbland Clinics in Meißen. Nowadays it has expanded their activities to their neighbouring industry, research and application partner in Czech Republic. www.healthtextil.de

CO2 taxation puts medium-sized companies at a competitive disadvantage
Concerning the permanently relevant topic energy transition in Germany, vti General Manager Dr.-Ing. Jenz Otto points out that the economic framework conditions for medium-sized producers will continue to worsen with the introduction of the CO2 taxation in the midst of the current crisis. “The financial resources to be used for this will then be lacking for investments in innovative products and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. Furthermore, our companies suffer significant competitive disadvantages compared to foreign competitors.” Björn-Olaf Dröge, managing director of the textile finishing company pro4tex GmbH, Niederfrohna, with around 100 employees, reported that the tax to be paid by his company for renewable energies adds up to around a quarter of a million euros annually. “Now the CO2 taxation for our natural gas consumption comes on top of that. For 2021 we anticipate an additional burden of almost 70,000 Euros.”

vti about the current situation in the East German industry
The East German textile and clothing industry recorded a significant loss in sales already in 2019. This trend has continued in 2020 being reinforced by the Covid-19 crises. Based on preliminary estimates, the vti assumes that the total turnover of the industry will be more than 11 percent below the previous year at the end of 2020, where the clothing sector is affected far more than the textile sector, with a decline of 35 percent. Exports, which are extremely important for the industry, also decreased in a similar magnitude. The job cuts have so far been relatively moderate, as many companies use the short-time working regulations and try to retain their permanent workforce. For 2021 the vti sees a gleam of hope in technical textiles, which have been in greater demand again in recent weeks - especially from the automotive industry. The employment cuts have so far been relatively moderate, as many companies use short-time working regulations and try to retain their permanent workforce. The vti sees a bright future for technical textiles in 2021, which have been in greater demand – especially in the automobile industry – in the last few weeks.

Of the around 16,000 employees, 12,000 work in Saxony and 2,500 in Thuringia. This makes this region one of the four largest German textile locations, along North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. It has modern spinning mills, weaving mills, knitting mills, warp knitting mills, nonwovens manufacturers, embroidery mills, finishing companies and clothing manufacturers as well as efficient research and educational institutions. 

Over half of the turnover in the East German textile and clothing industry has so far been attributa-ble to technical textiles, followed by home textiles with around 30 percent and the clothing sector with around 10 percent. The vti acts as a stakeholder at state, federal and EU level, tariff- and so-cial partner, as well as a service provider for its around 160 member companies.

Protective masks for Augsburg University Hospital (c) Fraunhofer IGCV
14.04.2020

Protective equipment from 3d printers

  • Fraunhofer IGCV supplies protective equipment made via 3d printers to university hospital Augsburg

For more than a week, the Institute for Materials Resource Management at the University of Augsburg has been supplying the University Hospital Augsburg with protective masks from 3D printers. In order to meet the enormous demand for absolutely necessary protective equipment for the the needs of hospital staff, a call for support was sent to cooperation partners - Augsburg University of Applied Sciences and Fraunhofer IGCV are stepping in.
 

  • Fraunhofer IGCV supplies protective equipment made via 3d printers to university hospital Augsburg

For more than a week, the Institute for Materials Resource Management at the University of Augsburg has been supplying the University Hospital Augsburg with protective masks from 3D printers. In order to meet the enormous demand for absolutely necessary protective equipment for the the needs of hospital staff, a call for support was sent to cooperation partners - Augsburg University of Applied Sciences and Fraunhofer IGCV are stepping in.
 

Fast communication in the research network:
Production of 3D-printed parts accelerates in the shortest possible time
Without further ado, an internal university group searched for possibilities of manufacturing via 3D printing. Prof. Dr. Markus Sause and Prof. Dr. Kay Weidenmann of the Institute for Materials Resource Management at the University of Augsburg immediately agreed and pulled out all the stops to start production as quickly as possible. In order to provide as many protective masks as possible in the shortest possible time, an appeal was also made to existing cooperation partners. They found what they were looking for in their direct colleague Prof. Dr. Johannes Schilp, Professor of Production Informatics at the University of Augsburg and Head of the Processing Technology Department at the Augsburg Fraunhofer IGCV: Max Horn, research associate at the Fraunhofer Institute, and Paul Dolezal from the FabLab (production laboratory) at Augsburg University of Applied Sciences immediately promised their help. "Thanks to the excellent cooperation of our team, the first parts were produced in our laboratory for additive manufacturing just a few hours after the first telephone call," Max Horn recalls. "With the support of the Augsburg University of Applied Sciences and the Fraunhofer IGCV, the production capacity of 50 masks per day could be significantly increased," Markus Sause is pleased to report.
          

Printing masks with Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) was selected as the manufacturing process for the face protection. This means that the mask is created by forcing fusible plastic through a nozzle and applying it in layers in individual lanes. In addition to an extensive laboratory for metal-based additive manufacturing, the Fraunhofer IGCV operates a new laboratory unit with various FDM printers. Due to the simplicity of the process and its great flexibility, it is particularly suitable for prototypes and sample components. "However, the masks produced are by no means only illustrative objects", adds Georg Schlick, Head of the Components and Processes Department at the Fraunhofer IGCV. The team processed durable polymers for the parts, which have good resistance to the disinfectants used in the hospital. This results in high-quality components that are ideally suited for multiple use.
 
Additive manufacturing for flexible production
In the meantime, some bottlenecks have been overcome: The Institute for Materials Resource Management at the University of Augsburg is switching back to production processes for the manufacture of face masks that are better suited for the production of large quantities. "The great strength of additive manufacturing lies rather in the production of very complex components with smaller quantities," explains Matthias Schmitt, group leader for additive manufacturing at the Fraunhofer IGCV. "But 3D printing also enables us to act at very short notice and to compensate for lack of capacity for almost any component as required," Schmitt continues. Thanks to the flexibility, motivation and expertise of all cooperation partners, a complete production and supply chain for the face masks was implemented within a few days. Georg Schlick therefore emphasizes the need for good networking and rapid exchange between the research institutions. "The close networking within the 3D printing community enables short communication channels and fast action. This can save lives in this case."

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology IGCV