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Photo: Bcomp
22.11.2022

Made in Switzerland: Is Flax the New Carbon?

  • Bcomp wins BMW Group Supplier Innovation Award in the category “Newcomer of the Year”

The sixth BMW Group Supplier Innovation Awards were presented at the BMW Welt in Munich on 17 November 2022. The coveted award was presented in a total of six categories: powertrain & e-mobility, sustainability, digitalisation, customer experience, newcomer of the year and exceptional team performance.

Bcomp won the BMW Group Supplier Innovation Award in the Newcomer of the Year category. Following a successful collaboration with BMW M Motorsport for the new BMW M4 GT4 that extensively uses Bcomp’s powerRibs™ and ampliTex™ natural fibre solutions and BMW iVentures recently taking a stake in Bcomp as lead investor in the Series B round, this award is another major step and recognition on the path to decarbonizing mobility.

  • Bcomp wins BMW Group Supplier Innovation Award in the category “Newcomer of the Year”

The sixth BMW Group Supplier Innovation Awards were presented at the BMW Welt in Munich on 17 November 2022. The coveted award was presented in a total of six categories: powertrain & e-mobility, sustainability, digitalisation, customer experience, newcomer of the year and exceptional team performance.

Bcomp won the BMW Group Supplier Innovation Award in the Newcomer of the Year category. Following a successful collaboration with BMW M Motorsport for the new BMW M4 GT4 that extensively uses Bcomp’s powerRibs™ and ampliTex™ natural fibre solutions and BMW iVentures recently taking a stake in Bcomp as lead investor in the Series B round, this award is another major step and recognition on the path to decarbonizing mobility.

“Innovations are key to the success of our transformation towards electromobility, digitalisation and sustainability. Our award ceremony recognises innovation and cooperative partnership with our suppliers – especially in challenging times,” said Joachim Post, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Purchasing and Supplier Network at the ceremony held at BMW Welt in Munich.

BMW first started to work with Bcomp’s materials in 2019 when they used high-performance natural fibre composites in the BMW iFE.20 Formula E car. From this flax fibre reinforced cooling shaft, the collaboration evolved and soon after, the proprietary ampliTex™ and powerRibs™ natural fibre solutions were found successfully substituting selected carbon fibre components in DTM touring cars from BMW M Motorsport. By trickling down and expanding into other vehicle programs, such developments highlight the vital role that BMW M Motorsports plays as a technology lab for the entire BMW Group. This continues in the form of the latest collaboration with Bcomp to include a higher proportion of renewable raw materials in the successor of the BMW M4 GT4.

With the launch of the new BMW M4 GT4, it will be the serial GT car with the highest proportion of natural fibre components. Bcomp’s ampliTex™ and powerRibs™ flax fibre solutions can be found throughout the interior on the dashboard and centre console, as well as on bodywork components such as the hood, front splitter, doors, trunk, and rear wing. Aside from the roof, there are almost no carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) components that were not replaced by the renewable high-performance flax materials. “Product sustainability is increasing in importance in the world of motorsport too,” says Franciscus van Meel, Chairman of the Board of Management at BMW M GmbH.

Bcomp is a leading solutions provider for natural fibre reinforcements in high performance applications from race to space.

The company started as a garage project in 2011 with a mission to create lightweight yet high performance skis. The bCores™ were launched and successfully adopted by some of the biggest names in freeride skiing. The founders, material science PhDs from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), used flax fibres to reinforce the balsa cores and improve shear stiffness. Impressed by the excellent mechanical properties of flax fibres, the development to create sustainable lightweighting solutions for the wider mobility markets started.

Flax is an indigenous plant that grows naturally in Europe and has been part of the agricultural history for centuries. It requires very little water and nutrients to grow successfully. In addition, it acts as a rotational crop, thus enhancing harvests on existing farmland. Neither cultivation nor processing of the flax plants requires any chemicals that could contaminate ground water and harvesting is a completely mechanical process. After harvesting the entire flax plant can be used for feed, to make oil and its fibres are especially used for home textiles and clothing. The long fibre that comes from the flax plant possesses very good mechanical properties and outstanding damping properties in relation to its density, making it especially suited as a natural fibre reinforcement for all kinds of polymers.

The harvesting and processing of flax takes place locally in the rural areas it was grown in. Using European flax sourced through a well-established and transparent supply chain it allows to support the economic and social structure in rural areas thanks to the large and skilled workforce required to sustain the flax production. When it comes to the production of technical products like the powerRibs™ reinforcement grid, Bcomp is investing in local production capacities close to its headquarters in the city of Fribourg, Switzerland, thus creating new jobs and maintaining technical know-how in the area. The production is built to be as efficient as possible and with minimal environmental impact and waste.

Further strengthening the local economy, Bcomp aims to hire local companies for missions and with the headquarters being located in Fribourg’s “Blue Factory” district, Bcomp can both benefit from and contribute to the development of this sustainable and diverse quarter.

Source:

Bcomp; BMW Group

First tests with free-form tiles made of wood short fiber filament. (Photo: LZH) Photo: LZH. First tests with free-form tiles made of wood short fiber filament.
19.09.2022

Sustainability in 3D Printing: Components made of Natural Fibers

3D printing has been in use in architecture for a while, and now it is to become ecologically sustainable as well: Together with partners, the LZH is researching how to produce individual building elements from natural fibers using additive manufacturing.

3D printing has been in use in architecture for a while, and now it is to become ecologically sustainable as well: Together with partners, the LZH is researching how to produce individual building elements from natural fibers using additive manufacturing.

In the project 3DNaturDruck, architectural components such as facade elements shall be created from natural fiber-reinforced biopolymers in 3D printing. To this end, the scientists will develop the corresponding composite materials from biopolymers with both natural short fibers and natural continuous fibers and optimize them for processing with the additive manufacturing process FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling). The project partners' goal is to enable smart and innovative designs that are both ecological and sustainable.
 
The goal: highly developed components made from sustainable materials
Within the project, different natural fiber-reinforced biopolymer composites will be investigated. The partners are researching both processing methods with very short natural fibers, such as from wood and straw, and a method for printing continuous fibers from hemp and flax in combination with biopolymers. The LZH then develops processes for these new materials and adapts the tools and nozzle geometries of the FDM printer. A pavilion with the 3D-printed facade elements is planned as a demonstrator on the campus of the University of Stuttgart.
 
The project partners want to explore how additive manufacturing can be used to simplify manufacturing processes for architectural components. Natural fiber-reinforced biopolymers are particularly suitable for producing components with complex geometries in just a few steps and with low material and cost requirements. With their research, the partners are also working on completely new starting conditions for the fabrication of newly developed architectural components: For example, the topology optimization of components according to their structural stress can be easily implemented with additive manufacturing.

Enabling the natural fiber trend in architecture also using additive manufacturing
There is great interest in the use of natural fibers in structural components in architecture and construction because natural fibers have several advantages. They have good mechanical properties combined with low weight and are widely available. As a renewable resource with in some cases very short renewal cycles, they are also clearly a better ecological alternative than synthetic fibers.

In additive manufacturing, large-format elements for the architectural sector have so far mostly been manufactured with polymers based on fossil raw materials. Research in the project 3DNaturDruck should now make the use of natural fibers in architecture possible for additive manufacturing as well.

About 3DNaturDruck
The project 3DNaturDruck is about the design and fabrication of 3D-printed components made of biocomposites using filaments with continuous and short natural fibers.

The project is coordinated by the Department of Biobased Materials and Materials Cycles in Architecture (BioMat) at the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) at the University of Stuttgart. In addition to the LZH, project partners include the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut (WKI) and the industrial companies Rapid Prototyping Technologie GmbH (Gifhorn), ETS Extrusionstechnik (Mücheln), 3dk.berlin (Berlin) and ATMAT Sp. Z o.o. (Krakow, Poland).

The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture through the Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V. under the funding code 2220NR295C.

Source:

Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

(c) nova-Institut GmbH
07.12.2021

Finalists for „Cellulose Fibre Innovation of the Year 2022” announced

Cellulose Fibre Innovation of the Year 2022: Cellulose Fibre Solutions are expanding from hygiene and textiles as well as non-wovens up to alternatives for carbon fibres for light-weight applications.

Great submissions made the nomination for the Innovation Award difficult. All of them present promising sustainable solutions in the field of cellulose fibres value chain. Six of them now get the chance to demonstrate their potential to a wide audience in Cologne (Germany), and online.

Cellulose Fibre Innovation of the Year 2022: Cellulose Fibre Solutions are expanding from hygiene and textiles as well as non-wovens up to alternatives for carbon fibres for light-weight applications.

Great submissions made the nomination for the Innovation Award difficult. All of them present promising sustainable solutions in the field of cellulose fibres value chain. Six of them now get the chance to demonstrate their potential to a wide audience in Cologne (Germany), and online.

For the second time, nova-Institute grants the “Cellulose Fibre Innovation of the Year” within the framework of the “International Conference on Cellulose Fibres 2022” (2-3 February 2022). The advisory board of the conference nominated six  products, ranging from cellulose made of orange- and wood pulp to a novel technology for cellulose fibre production. The presentations, election of the winner by the conference audience and the award ceremony will take place on the first day of the conference.

Cellulose fibres show an increasingly expanding wide range of applications, while at the same time markets are driven by technological developments and political framework conditions, especially bans and restrictions on plastics and increasing sustainability requirements. The conference provides rich information on opportunities for cellulose fibres through policy assessment, a session on sustainability, recycling and alternative feedstocks as well as latest development in pulp, cellulose fibres and yarns. This includes application such as non-wovens, packaging and composites.

Here are the nominees:
Carbon Fibres from Wood – German Institutes of Textile and Fiber Research Denkendorf (Germany)
The HighPerCellCarbon® technology is a sustainable and alternative process for the production of carbon fibres made from wood. The technology starts with wet spinning of cellulosic fibres using ionic liquids (IL) as direct solvent in an environmentally friendly, closed loop filament spinning process (HighPerCell® technology). These filaments are directly converted into carbon fibres by a low-pressure stabilisation process, followed by a suitable carbonisation process. No exhaust fumes or toxic by-products are formed during the whole process. Furthermore, the approach allows a complete recycling of solvent and precursor fibres, creating a unique and environmentally friendly process. Carbon fibres are used in many lightweight applications and the fibres are a sustainable alternative to fossil-based ones.

Fibers365, Truly Carbon-Negative Virgin Fibres from Straw – Fibers365 (Germany)
Fibers365 are the first carbon-negative virgin straw fibres on the market. The Fibers365 concept is based on a unique, state of the art process to provide functional, carbon negative, and competitive non-wood biomass products such as virgin fibres for paper, packaging and textile purposes as well as high value process energy, biopolymer and fertilizer side streams. The products are extracted from the stems of annual food plants such as straw by a chemical-free, regional, farm level steam explosion pulping technology, allowing an easy separation of the fibres from sugars, lignin, organic acid and minerals. In the case of annual plants, CO2 emissions are recaptured within 12 months from their production date, offering “instant”, yearly compensation of corresponding emissions.

Iroony® Hemp and Flax Cellulose – RBX Créations (France)
Iroony® is a branded cellulose made by RBX Créations from hemp. This resistant hemp plant grows quickly within in a few months, massively captures carbon and displays a high content of cellulose. The biomass is directly collected from French farmers who cultivate without chemicals or irrigation, in extended rotation cycles, contributing to soil regeneration and biodiversity. For a diversified supply, the hemp can be combined with organically-grown flax. Through its patented process, RBX Créations extracts high-purity cellulose, perfectly suitable for spinning technologies such as HighPerCell® of DITF research centre. The resulting fibres display versatile properties of fineness, tenacity and stretch, for applications like clothing or technical textiles. Iroony® combines low impact, trackability and performance.

SPINNOVA, Sustainable Textile Fibre without Harmful Chemicals – Spinnova (Finland)
Spinnova’s innovative technology enables production of sustainable textile fibres in a mechanical process, without dissolving or any harmful chemicals. The process involves use of paper-grade pulp and mechanical refining to turn pulp into microfibrillated cellulose (MFC). The fibre suspension consisting of MFC is extruded to form textile fibre, without regeneration processes. The Spinnova process does not generate any side waste, and the environmental footprint of SPINNOVA® including 65 % less CO2 emissions and 99 % less water compared to cotton production. Spinnova’s solution is also scalable: Spinnova targets to reach 1 million tonnes annual production capacity in the next 10 to 12 years.    

Sustainable Menstruation Panties: Application-driven Fibre Functionalisation – Kelheim Fibres (Germany)
Kelheim’s plant-based and biodegradable fibres contribute significantly to a sustainable future in the field of reusable hygiene textiles. Through innovative functionalisation they are specifically adjusted to the requirements of the single layers and thereby reach a performance comparable to that of synthetic fibres. A unique duality in fibre technology is created: sustainably manufactured cellulosic fibres that allow for high wearing comfort and reusability with extraordinary, durable performance. Fibre concepts comprise Celliant® Viscose, an in-fibre infrared solution and Danufil® Fibres in the top sheet, Galaxy, a trilobal fibre for the ADL, Bramante, a hollow viscose fibre, in the absorbing core and a water repellent woven fabric, a biodegradable PLA film or a sustainable coating as a back sheet.

TENCEL™ branded Lyocell Fibre made of Orange and Wood Pulp – Orange Fiber (Italy)
Orange Fiber is the world's first company to produce a sustainable textile fibre from a patented process for the extraction of cellulose to be spun from citrus juice leftovers, which are more than 1 million tonnes a year just in Italy. The result of our partnership with Lenzing Group, leading global producer of wood-based specialty fibres, is the first ever TENCEL™ branded lyocell fibre made of orange and wood pulp. A novel cellulosic fibre to further inspire sustainability across the value chain and push the boundaries of innovation. This fibre, part of the TENCEL™ Limited Edition initiative, is characterized by soft appeal and high moisture absorbance and has already obtained the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certificate and is undergoing a diverse set of other sustainability assessments.

Photo: pixabay
10.08.2021

Stand-up paddle board made from renewable lightweight mater

Stand-up paddling has become a popular sport. However, conventional surfboards are made of petroleum-based materials such as epoxy resin and polyurethane.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut, WKI, want to replace plastic boards with sustainable sports equipment: They are developing a stand-up paddle board that is made from one hundred percent renewable raw materials. The ecological lightweight material can be used in many ways, such as in the construction of buildings, cars and ships.

Stand-up paddling has become a popular sport. However, conventional surfboards are made of petroleum-based materials such as epoxy resin and polyurethane.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut, WKI, want to replace plastic boards with sustainable sports equipment: They are developing a stand-up paddle board that is made from one hundred percent renewable raw materials. The ecological lightweight material can be used in many ways, such as in the construction of buildings, cars and ships.

Stand-up paddling (SUP) is a sport that is close to nature, but the plastic boards are anything but environmentally friendly. As a rule, petroleum-based materials such as epoxy resin, polyester resin, polyurethane and expanded or extruded polystyrene are used in combination with fiberglass and carbon fiber fabrics to produce the sports equipment. In many parts of the world, these plastics are not recycled, let alone disposed of correctly. Large quantities of plastic end up in the sea and collect in huge ocean eddies. For Christoph Pöhler, a scientist at Fraunhofer WKI and an avid stand-up paddler, this prompted him to think about a sustainable alternative. In the ecoSUP project, he is driving the development of a stand-up paddle board that is made from 100 percent renewable raw materials and which is also particularly strong and durable. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW is accompanying the research work, with TU Braunschweig acting as project partner.

Recovering balsa wood from rotor blades
“In standard boards, a polystyrene core, which we know as styrofoam, is reinforced with fiberglass and sealed with an epoxy resin. We, instead, use bio-based lightweight material,” says the civil engineer. Pöhler and his colleagues use recycled balsa wood for the core. This has a very low density, i.e. it is light yet mechanically stressable. Balsa wood grows mainly in Papua New Guinea and Ecuador, where it has been used in large quantities in wind turbines for many years – up to six cubic meters of the material can be found in a rotor blade. Many of the systems are currently being disconnected from the grid. In 2020 alone, 6000 were dismantled. A large proportion of this is burnt. It would make more sense to recover the material from the rotor blade and recycle it in accordance with the circular economy. “This was exactly our thinking. The valuable wood is too good to burn,” says Pöhler.

Since the entire sandwich material used in conventional boards is to be completely replaced, the shell of the ecological board is also made from one hundred percent bio-based polymer. It is reinforced with flax fibers grown in Europe, which are characterized by very good mechanical properties. To pull the shell over the balsa wood core, Pöhler and his team use the hand lay-up and vacuum infusion processes. Feasibility studies are still underway to determine the optimal method. The first demonstrator of the ecological board should be available by the end of 2022. “In the interests of environmental protection and resource conservation, we want to use natural fibers and bio-based polymers wherever it is technically possible. In many places, GFRP is used even though a bio-based counterpart could do the same,” Pöhler sums up.

Patented technology for the production of wood foam
But how is it possible to recover the balsa wood from the rotor blade — after all, it is firmly bonded to the glass-fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP) of the outer shell? First, the wood is separated from the composite material in an impact mill. The density differences can be used to split the mixed-material structures into their individual components using a wind sifter. The balsa wood fibers, which are available as chips and fragments, are then finely ground. “We need this very fine starting material to produce wood foam. Fraunhofer WKI has a patented technology for this,” explains the researcher. In this process, the wood particles are suspended to form a kind of cake batter and processed into a light yet firm wood foam that holds together thanks to the wood’s own binding forces. The addition of adhesive is not required. The density and strength of the foam can be adjusted. “This is important because the density should not be too high. Otherwise, the stand-up paddle board would be too heavy to transport.”

Initially, the researchers are focusing on stand-up paddle boards. However, the hybrid material is also suitable for all other boards, such as skateboards. The future range of applications is broad: For example, it could be used as a facade element in the thermal insulation of buildings. The technology can also be used in the construction of vehicles, ships and trains.

(c) Porsche AG
04.05.2021

Fraunhofer: Lightweight and Ecology in Automotive Construction

  • The “Bioconcept-Car” moves ahead

In automobile racing, lightweight bodies made from plastic and carbon fibers have been standard for many years because they enable drivers to reach the finish line more quickly. In the future, lightweight-construction solutions could help reduce the energy consumption and emissions of everyday vehicles. The catch is that the production of carbon fibers is not only expensive but also consumes considerable amounts of energy and petroleum. In collaboration with Porsche Motorsport and Four Motors, researchers at the Fraunhofer WKI have succeeded in replacing the carbon fibers in a car door with natural fibers. This is already being installed in small series at Porsche. The project team is now taking the next step: Together with HOBUM Oleochemicals, they want to maximize the proportion of renewable raw materials in the door and other body parts - using bio-based plastics and paints.

  • The “Bioconcept-Car” moves ahead

In automobile racing, lightweight bodies made from plastic and carbon fibers have been standard for many years because they enable drivers to reach the finish line more quickly. In the future, lightweight-construction solutions could help reduce the energy consumption and emissions of everyday vehicles. The catch is that the production of carbon fibers is not only expensive but also consumes considerable amounts of energy and petroleum. In collaboration with Porsche Motorsport and Four Motors, researchers at the Fraunhofer WKI have succeeded in replacing the carbon fibers in a car door with natural fibers. This is already being installed in small series at Porsche. The project team is now taking the next step: Together with HOBUM Oleochemicals, they want to maximize the proportion of renewable raw materials in the door and other body parts - using bio-based plastics and paints.

Carbon fibers reinforce plastics and therefore provide lightweight components with the necessary stability. Mass-produced natural fibers are not only more cost-effective but can also be produced in a considerably more sustainable manner. For the “Bioconcept-Car” pilot vehicle, researchers at the Fraunhofer WKI have developed body parts with 100 percent natural fibers as reinforcing components.

“We utilize natural fibers, such as those made from hemp, flax or jute. Whilst natural fibers exhibit lower stiffnesses and strengths compared to carbon fibers, the values achieved are nonetheless sufficient for many applications,” explained Ole Hansen, Project Manager at the Fraunhofer WKI. Due to their naturally grown structure, natural fibers dampen sound and vibrations more effectively. Their lesser tendency to splinter can help to reduce the risk of injury in the event of an accident. Furthermore, they do not cause skin irritation during processing.

The bio-based composites were successfully tested by the Four Motors racing team in the “Bioconcept-Car” on the racetrack under extreme conditions. Porsche has actually been using natural fiber-reinforced plastics in a small series of the Cayman GT4 Clubsport since 2019. During production, the researchers at the Fraunhofer WKI also conducted an initial ecological assessment based on material and energy data. “We were able to determine that the utilized natural-fiber fabric has a better environmental profile in its production, including the upstream chains, than the fabric made from carbon. Thermal recycling after the end of its service life should also be possible without any problems,” confirmed Ole Hansen.

In the next project phase of the "Bioconcept-Car", the researchers at the Fraunhofer WKI, in collaboration with the cooperation partners HOBUM Oleochemicals GmbH, Porsche Motorsport and Four Motors, will develop a vehicle door with a biogenic content of 85 percent in the overall composite consisting of fibers and resin. They intend to achieve this by, amongst other things, utilizing bio-based resin-hardener blends as well as bio-based paint systems. The practicality of the door - and possibly additional components - will again be tested by Four Motors on the racetrack. If the researchers are successful, it may be possible to transfer the acquired knowledge into series production at Porsche.

The German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) is funding the “Bioconcept-Car” project via the project-management agency Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e. V. (FNR).

Background
Sustainability through the utilization of renewable raw materials has formed the focus at the Fraunhofer WKI for more than 70 years. The institute, with locations in Braunschweig, Hanover and Wolfsburg, specializes in process engineering, natural-fiber composites, surface technology, wood and emission protection, quality assurance of wood products, material and product testing, recycling procedures and the utilization of organic building materials and wood in construction. Virtually all the procedures and materials resulting from the research activities are applied industrially.

 

  • EU Project ALMA: Thinking Ahead to Electromobility

E-mobility and lightweight construction are two crucial building blocks of modern vehicle development to drive the energy transition. They are the focus of the ALMA project (Advanced Light Materials and Processes for the Eco-Design of Electric Vehicles). Nine European organizations are now working in the EU project to develop more energy-efficient and sustainable vehicles. Companies from research and industry are optimizing the efficiency and range of electric vehicles, among other things by reducing the weight of the overall vehicle. The Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM is providing support with mathematical simulation expertise.

According to the low emissions mobility strategy, the European Union aims to have at least 30 million zero-emission vehicles on its roads by 2030. Measures to support jobs, growth, investment, and innovation are taken to tackle emissions from the transport sector. To make transport more climate-friendly, EU measures are being taken to promote jobs, investment and innovation. The European Commission's Horizon 2020 project ALMA represents one of these measures.

The Fraunhofer WKI double-rapier weaving machine with the Jacquard attachment in the upper of the photo.  © Fraunhofer WKI | Melina Ruhr. The Fraunhofer WKI double-rapier weaving machine with the Jacquard attachment in the upper of the photo.
02.06.2020

Fraunhofer WKI: Climate-friendly hybrid-fiber materials on the basis of renewable natural fibers

As a result of the new combination possibilities for bio-based hybrid-fiber materials achieved at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut WKI, the industrial application possibilities for renewable raw materials, for example in the automotive industry or for everyday objects such as helmets or skis, can be expanded.

By increasing the proportion of flax fiber in hybrid-fiber materials to up to 50 percent, the scientists have demonstrated that it is possible to significantly increase the biogenic proportion in composite materials. The special aspect of the tested methods: The fabrics can be individually composed with the help of a weaving machine. In this way, process steps in industrial production, in which materials first have to be merged together, can be omitted. This will achieve reductions in energy and CO2 throughout the entire production process.

As a result of the new combination possibilities for bio-based hybrid-fiber materials achieved at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut WKI, the industrial application possibilities for renewable raw materials, for example in the automotive industry or for everyday objects such as helmets or skis, can be expanded.

By increasing the proportion of flax fiber in hybrid-fiber materials to up to 50 percent, the scientists have demonstrated that it is possible to significantly increase the biogenic proportion in composite materials. The special aspect of the tested methods: The fabrics can be individually composed with the help of a weaving machine. In this way, process steps in industrial production, in which materials first have to be merged together, can be omitted. This will achieve reductions in energy and CO2 throughout the entire production process.

Successfully woven: Different hybrid fabrics
In view of the increased demands being placed upon environmental and climate protection, science and industry are seeking sustainable alternatives to conventional materials in all branches of production. As a material, natural fibers offer a sustainable solution. Due to their low density and simultaneous high stability, natural fibers can be used to produce highly resilient light-weight-construction materials which are easy to recycle. In the “ProBio” project, scientists from the Fraunhofer WKI have therefore addressed the question as to how the proportion of natural fibers in bio-based hybrid-fiber materials can be increased as significantly as possible. A double-rapier weaving machine with Jacquard attachment was thereby utilized in order to produce the bio-based hybrid-fiber materials.

The researchers thereby focused specifically on bio-based hybrid-fiber composites (Bio-HFC). Bio-HFC consist of a combination of cellulose-based fibers, such as flax fibers, and synthetic high-performance fibers, such as carbon or glass fibers, for reinforcement. Bio-HFC can be utilized in, for example, vehicle construction. As an innovation in the “ProBio” project, the researchers interwove differing fiber-material combinations, reinforcing fibers and matrix fibers with the aid of the double-rapier weaving machine. This procedure differs from the process in which finished fabrics are layered on top of one another.

“We have combined the advantageous properties of the fiber materials within a composite material in such a way that we have been able to compensate for weak points in individual components, thereby achieving new properties in some cases. In addition, we have succeeded in increasing the proportion of bio-based fibers to up to 50 percent flax fibers, which we have combined with 50 percent reinforcing fibers,” says project team member Jana Winkelmann, describing the procedure. The bio-hybrid textiles, each consisting of 50 percent by weight carbon and flax fabric, are introduced into a bio-based plastic matrix. The composite material possesses a flexural strength which is more than twice as high as that of the corresponding composite material made from flax-reinforced epoxy resin. This mechanical performance capability can significantly expand the application range of renewable raw materials for technical applications.

With the weaving machine, the scientists have successfully combined innovative light-weight-construction composite materials with complex application-specific fabric structures and integrated functions. Reinforcing fibers, such as carbon and natural fibers, as well as multilayer fabrics and three-dimensional structures, can be woven together in a single work step. This offers advantages for industrial production, as production steps in which materials first have to be merged together can be omitted. “We have succeeded, for example, in utilizing conductive yarns or wires as sensors or conductor paths directly in the weaving process, thereby producing fabrics with integrated functions. The introduction of synthetic fibers as weft threads enables the production of bio-hybrid composites with isotropic mechanical properties,” explains Ms. Winkelmann.

Weaving technology makes it possible to create new products with a high proportion of bio-based components on a pilot scale. The project results provide an insight into the diverse combination possibilities of natural and reinforcing fibers and demonstrate opportunities for utilization not only in vehicle construction but also for everyday objects such as helmets or skis. The results will be presented within the framework of the 4th International Conference on Natural Fibers, ICNF, July 2019 in Porto, Portugal. The “ProBio” project, which ran from 1st July 2014 to 30th June 2019, was funded by the Lower Saxony Ministry of Science and Culture (MWK).

Background
Sustainability through the utilization of renewable raw materials has formed the focus at the Fraunhofer WKI for more than 70 years. The institute, with locations in Braunschweig, Hanover and Wolfsburg, specializes in process engineering, natural-fiber composites, wood and emission protection, quality assurance of wood products, material and product testing, recycling procedures and the utilization of organic building materials and wood in construction. Virtually all the procedures and materials resulting from the research activities are applied industrially.

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research WKI

19.09.2017

RUSSIA'S APPAREL AND TEXTILE INDUSTRY IS BOOMING

  • Domestic production is attractively priced
  • Foreign brands shift production tu Russia

Moscow (GTAI) - The Russian market for clothing and tex-tiles has recovered from the crisis. The Fashion Consulting Group expects a sales increase of up to 5 percent for 2017 and 2018. The production of clothing and textiles is also on the rise in the first half of 2017 by more than 6 percent. Low unit costs make sewing and weaving in Russia attractive and attract foreign brand manufacturers.

  • Domestic production is attractively priced
  • Foreign brands shift production tu Russia

Moscow (GTAI) - The Russian market for clothing and tex-tiles has recovered from the crisis. The Fashion Consulting Group expects a sales increase of up to 5 percent for 2017 and 2018. The production of clothing and textiles is also on the rise in the first half of 2017 by more than 6 percent. Low unit costs make sewing and weaving in Russia attractive and attract foreign brand manufacturers.

The Russian clothing and textile industry is again on a growth path. The market research agency Fashion Consulting Group expects a sales increase of up to 5 percent to Ruble 2,41 billion, (EUR 37.35 billion, exchange rate January 1st to August 31st 2017: 1 EUR = 64.518 rubles) for 2017 compared to the previous year. However, the business development in the first half of 2017 re-mained below expectations as the spring was short and the summer unusually cold. The most likely expectation therefore is a market growth of 2 to 3 percent.

However, with the crisis based Ruble devaluation the signs have changed. Imports become more expensive and domestic production becomes profitable. The unit labor costs in the Russian cloth-ing and textile industries have now become more competitive with those in China. This creates sales opportunities for manufacturers of automated production machinery and sewing machines.

Foreign garment manufacturers move production to Russia
First companies are already considering moving their production to Russia. For example the company Modny Continent, which is known for the brand In-City and is currently producing in China. Other wellknown
Russian labels like Sportmaster and Acoola, as well as foreign fashion brands such as Zara, Nike, Finnflare, Uniqlo and Decathlon are planning to launch their own productions in Russia. Some Russian companies are sewing under a foreign brand name and hide their origin.

Already one step further is Adventum Technologies. The to the Textime (Tekstajm) Group belonging company opened a new plant for the production of special clothing in the area of Tula for Rubles 650 million in March 2017. In Roslawl in the Smolensk region, the Roztech company is installing a plant for the manufacture of Dikaja Orchideja underwear for Rubles 100 million. PrimeTec (Prajmtek) has started the production of terry cloth in the area of Ivanovo for Rubles 670 million.

Current projects in the clothing and textile industry in Russia
Project Investition
(Mio. Euro)
City / Region Completion Company
Construction of a high-tech center 312.5
(1st phase)
Rostow 2019
(1. Phase)
Gloria Jeans, http://www.gloria-jeans.ru
Construction of new facilities for the production of textiles 17.9 Iwanowo 2020 Faberlic, http://www.faberlic.ru
Construction of a textile factory for the segment HoReCa 17.1 Rostow n.a. Rapira, ooorapira.ru
Construction of new facilities for manufacturing of high tech fabrics 8.5 Perm 2018 Tschajkowski Textile, http://www.textile.ru
Construction of production facilities terry goods  7.8 Gebiet Kaliningrad n.a. Rapira, ooorapira.ru
Construction of a factory for the production of technical textiles 5.9 Pskow 2018 Strimteks, http://www.strimteks.ru
Construction of facilities for medical materials  5.7 Iwanowo 2020 Navteks, http://navteks.narod.ru
Construction of facilities for the production of speciality clothing 4.6 Perm n.a. Tschajkowski Textile, http://www.textile.ru
Facilities for the production of linen yarn  1.7 Rschew, Gebiet Twer n.a. Rshewskaja Lnotschesal-naja Fabrika, http://izolnarzhev.ru/new/

Source: Research of Germany Trade and Invest

Government pushes import substitution
The Ministry of Industry promotes domestic manufacturers of clothing and textiles with Rubles 145 billion as part of the strategy for the development of the light industry by 2025 and the anticreep plan. By the year 2020 the market share of Russian textiles should rise to 50 percent and 300,000 new jobs should be created. This will make Russia more independent from clothing and textile imports.

The government specifically supports individual textile segments. With regulation no 857 of August 27th 2016, it promotes the production of school uniforms in Russia. Also for research and development in the textile industry funding will be provided: for 2017 Rubles 3 billion are available, 2.2 billion from the anti-crisis plan.

However, the somewhat stabilizing Ruble threatens to cross the plan of the government, it cheapens the imports. In the first quarter of 2017 imports of textiles and footwear increased by 22.7 percent.

Textile and clothing production in Russia
Description of goods 2014 2015 2016 Veränderung 2017/2016 *) (in %)
Cotton fiber (mio. bales) 106.0 111.0 129.0 8.9
Chemical fiber (1.000 t) 128.0 136.0 152.0 10.3
Synthetic fiber (1.000 t) 20.3 15.1 21.2 -12.0
Fabrics (mio. sqm) 3,907.0 4,542 5,409 11.8
.therof from:        
.Cotton 1,187.0 1,176.0 1,162.0 0.4
.Natural silk (1.000 sqm) 192.0 253.0 157.0 8.9
.Wool (1.000 qm) 11.5 9.3 10.5 18.7
.Linen 31.4 25.9 25.5 10.7
.Synthetic fiber 204.0 237.0

282.0

22.9
.Nonwoven fabrics (except wadding) 2,461.0 3,084.0 3,904.0 15.4
Bedlinen (mio sets) 64.4 59.8 58.6 0.9
Carpets (mio. sqm) 17.1 22.6 22.4 -14.8
Knitwear (1.000 t) 7.6 14.2 k.A. 25.5
Stockings and socks (mio. pair) 207.0 199.0 213.0 -7.6
Coats (1.000 pc.) 1,239.0 989.0 1,200.0 -8.8
Men’s suits (mio. pc.) 5.4 4.7 4.0 -4.0
Work wear & uniforms for men (mio.pc.) 22.8 20.7 22.0 28.9

*) First half year 2017 compared to the same period of last year
Source: Federal Statistical Office Rosstat

Weak ruble makes manufacturing in Russia attractive
The ruble devaluation benefits the labor-intensive textile industry. Many Russian fashion brands, who have placed orders to foreign sewing companies, are trying to redirect them to Russia. The factories in the textile clusters of the areas Ivanovo, Leningrad, Tula, Tver, Vladimir, Perm and Vologda are ready for new settlements. Ac-cording to plans by the regional government, textile production should also be set up in Tatarstan. The proximity to polymer producers in the region should ensure the supply of chemical fibers for the manufacturing of work wear and uniforms.

Without an own production of wool, silk, flax and synthetic fibers the Russian textile industry can-not get on its feet. However - to date, not all textiles and basic materials can be obtained from domestic sources. This is why very fine fabrics come e.g. from Europe. Local producers are to re-place imports especially in polyviscose, worsted, polyamide and polyester.

In order to reduce the import dependency of polyester, a new combine for the production of poly-ester fibers is being developed in Witschuga in the Ivanovo region. ThyssenKrupp, Uhde-Inventa Fischer, Oerlikon Neumag and Czech Unistav Construction are building the new Ivanovsky Poly-efirni complex, which is scheduled to commence production in 2020.

Foreign textile imports could be replaced much faster by Russian goods and the growth rates would be much higher if the banks would provide affordable loans to local textile manufacturers to buy new equipments. But this does not happen according to the president of the Russian Union of Entrepreneurs of the Textile and Light Industry Andrej Razbrodin.

Investors are faced with various challenges in setting up textile productions in Russia: the produc-tion plants are mostly outdated, skilled workers are a shortage as well as sales partners. Only if the Russian government's development program for the garment and textile industry will be suc-cessfully implemented, these problems could be overcome.

More information:
Russia
Source:

Hans-Jürgen Wittmann, Germany Trade & Invest www.gtai.de

Belarus is expanding its textile and clothing industry © Florentine/pixelio.de
28.03.2017

BELARUS IS EXPANDING ITS TEXTILE AND CLOTHING INDUSTRY

PLANNED ABOLITION OF EU IMPORT QUOTAS ALLOWS MORE FOREIGN COMMITMENTS

Minsk (GTAI) - The textile and clothing industry of the Republic of Belarus faces great challenges. It has to become more efficient, should produce more market-orientated and make greater use of its export potential. The sector has great hopes on the by the European Union planned abolition of quotas for Belarusian textiles and clothing products. There are then more than ever good opportunities for the subcontracting finishing process.

PLANNED ABOLITION OF EU IMPORT QUOTAS ALLOWS MORE FOREIGN COMMITMENTS

Minsk (GTAI) - The textile and clothing industry of the Republic of Belarus faces great challenges. It has to become more efficient, should produce more market-orientated and make greater use of its export potential. The sector has great hopes on the by the European Union planned abolition of quotas for Belarusian textiles and clothing products. There are then more than ever good opportunities for the subcontracting finishing process.

The textile and clothing industry has traditionally been one of the most important sectors of the manufacturing industry in the Republic of Belarus. As a result of the sharp decline of the local purchasing power and of the main export market Russia, the sector has suffered a severe setback in the years 2013 to 2015. Since the second half of 2016 it is on an upswing again. According to preliminary data, the output has risen in 2016 by 4.6% to EUR 1.41 billion compared to 2015. Produced were 146.8 million sqm. of fabrics, 40.4 million pieces of knitwear, 147.0 million pairs of stockings and 19.9 million sqm. of carpet products.

Nevertheless the textile and clothing industry continues to suffer from a weak capacity utilization, an inadequate management and marketing as well as from a considerable backlog in the technological renewal of the equipment park. The implementation of an industry support program for the period from 2016 to 2020 should provide for a remedy. The program comes from the Belarussian State Group for production and sale of goods of the light industry Bellegprom. (http://www.bellegprom.by).

Sector program shows planned projects until 2020

Under the umbrella of the State Group 17 textile, 12 knitting and 21 garment companies are active. With an output of just under USD 0.9 billion, these manufacturers were involved with nearly three-fifths of the total output of the Belarusian textile and clothing industry in 2015. The companies have exported goods for nearly USD 500 million in 2015. The main customer was Russia (USD 357 million). The investments of the Bellegprom companies are expected to reach a volume of at least EUR 250 million in the years 2017 to 2020.

The envisaged projects for this period include:

  • the continuation of the comprehensive modernization of the Orschaer linen combine Orscha (production of linen yarn, -fabrics and finished products, processing of imported raw materials);
  • technological renewal in the company OAO Mogotex, Mahiljou / Mogilew (spinning and textile finishing);
  • the development and production of new competitive wool and wool blended fabrics in the company OAO Kamwol, Minsk;
  • the expansion of the production of hosiery, including an enlargement of the assortment of medical hosiery in the company SOOO Conte Spa, Grodno;
  • the commencement of production of seamless underwear in the company OAO Kupalinka, Salihorsk and
  • Investment in the production of fine thread Ajour-fabrics in OAO Switanak, Shodsina.

 

Selected characteristic data of the Belarusian textile and clothing industry
  2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Number of companies1) 1,577 1,605 1,693 1,715 1,671 1,552
Number of employees
(in 1,000 persons)1)
104.2 102.5 100.3 94.9 87.2 75.5
Production (in Mio. Euro)   1,440.7 1,654.3 1,673.7 1,663.0 1,499.7 1,181.8
Real change compared to previous year (in %)2) 13.5 6.8 1.4 -2.7 -2.4 -14.0
Share of production of the total manufacturing industry (in %) 3.8 3.4 3.2 3.6 3.4 3.2
Gross facility investment (in EUR mio) 103.8 114.0 96.4 125.2 177.6 76.1
Average monthly wage (Euro) 210.0 216.3 256.8 315.7 318.0 257.3
Production of selected products   
Fabrics, total (sqm. mio) 147.0 177.2 183.9 181.0 166.5 155.2
Fabrics made out of chemical fibers 65.8 82.3 83.8 80.5 67,4 69.5
Cotton fabrics 52.9 65.5 68.6 69.7 71,6 58.8
Linen fabrics 24.3 25.3 27.4 26.8 24.6 25.0
Woolen fabrics 4.0 3.2 3.1 3.5 2.5 1.6
Knitted goods (pieces mio) 63.7 64.2 62.8 61.2 51,1 42.2
Hosiery (pairs mio) 119.0 129.5 133.6 137.0 140.2 138.6
Carpets and floorcoverings (sqm. mio) 10.0 12.2 12.9 15.4 18.7 18.6

1)  Without regard to micro- and other small enterprises; at the end of 2015 225 textile and clothing companies were active in Belarus, the average number of employees in these companies was 58,800 persons per year;
2)  in terms of the national currency of Belarussian Ruble
Source: National Committee for Statistics, calculations by Trade & Invest in Germany.

In order to create complete value chains, it is envisaged to set up joint ventures between manufacturers of fabrics as well as producers of finished products. The Bellegprom Group is keen to focus the expansion potential on the production of linen fabrics and high-quality finished linen products.

Belarus is one of the world's five largest linen producers. For 2017 a volume of 55,000 tons is expected. In the year 2016 29 companies have processed flax straw into fibers. Of the in these factories installed 54 processing lines only ten are considered to be highly productive. According to the administration of the Mahiljou region, a Chinese investor wants to set up a factory in the region for the processing of flax for semi-finished and ready made goods in the near future.

Abolition of EU quotas planed

The EU plans to abolish the since 2010 existing autonomous quotas as well as the contingents for passive finishing processing for Belarus. The restrictions currently apply to a variety of textile products, including cotton and linen yarn as well as garments made out of cotton and woolen fabrics. Market observers agree: the abolition of the quotas with the related bureaucratic procedures would provide a solid basis for stimulating foreign investments in the Belarusian textile and clothing industry.

Belarus has many advantages: geographical proximity to the EU market, a well-developed infrastructure, long-standing industrial traditions, available production capacities, skilled labor and, last but not least, favorable labor costs. In a first phase of cooperation with Belarusian partners, the interest of foreign companies is likely to focus more on subcontracting. There are already successful projects that use the favorable framework conditions for this business model.   

The German Langheinrich Vertriebs GmbH, for example, produces high-quality table cloth and bed linen for the contract area in the small West-Belarussian town of Diwin (Kobryn district, Brest region). According to the director general of Langheinrich Konfektion GmbH, Walentina Paschkewitsch, the company, founded there in 2005, employs now between 90 and 120 employees depending on the order situation. Sales in 2016 amounted to around EUR 1 million. The in the company paid wages and the additional granted social packages are the guarantor of a very low fluctuation of the workforce. Among the companies from neighboring Lithuania, which are producing textiles and clothing in Belarus, the leading Baltic manufacturer of sportswear Audimas stands out.