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(c) Fraunhofer ICT
06.01.2023

Fraunhofer CPM develop programmable material for ergonomic lying position

Many people across the world are bedridden – be it due to illness, an accident or old age. Because those affected often cannot move or turn over by themselves, they often end up with very painful bedsores. In the future, it should be possible to avoid bedsores with the help of materials that can be programmed to entirely adapt their form and mechanical properties. For example, the body support of mattresses made from programmable materials can be adjusted in any given area at the push of a button. Furthermore, the support layer is formed in such a way that strong pressure on one point can be distributed across a wider area. Areas of the bed where pressure is placed are automatically made softer and more elastic. Caregivers can also adjust the ergonomic lying position to best fit their patient.

Many people across the world are bedridden – be it due to illness, an accident or old age. Because those affected often cannot move or turn over by themselves, they often end up with very painful bedsores. In the future, it should be possible to avoid bedsores with the help of materials that can be programmed to entirely adapt their form and mechanical properties. For example, the body support of mattresses made from programmable materials can be adjusted in any given area at the push of a button. Furthermore, the support layer is formed in such a way that strong pressure on one point can be distributed across a wider area. Areas of the bed where pressure is placed are automatically made softer and more elastic. Caregivers can also adjust the ergonomic lying position to best fit their patient.

Materials and microstructuring
Materials for applications requiring specific changes to stiffness or shape are being developed by researchers from Fraunhofer CPM, which is formed of six core institutes with the aim of designing and producing programmable materials. So, how can we program materials? “Essentially, there are two key areas where adjustments can be made: the base material – thermoplastic polymers in the case of mattresses and metallic alloys for other applications, including shape memory alloys – and, more specifically, the microstructure,” explains Dr. Heiko Andrä, spokesperson on the topic at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM, one of the Fraunhofer CPM core institutes. “The microstructure of these metamaterials is made up of unit cells that consist of structural elements such as small beams and thin shells.” While the size of each unit cell and its structural elements in conventional cellular materials, like foams, vary randomly, the cells in the programmable materials are also variable – but can be precisely defined, i.e., programmed. This programming can be made, for example, in such a way that pressure on a particular position will result in specific changes at other regions of the mattress, i.e., increase the size of the contact surface and provide optimal support to certain areas of the body.

Materials can also react to temperature or humidity
The change in shape that the material should exhibit and the stimuli to which it reacts - mechanical stress, heat, moisture or even an electric or magnetic field - can be determined by the choice of material and its microstructure.

The journey to application
A single piece of material can take the place of entire systems of sensors, regulators and actuators. The goal of Fraunhofer CPM is to reduce the complexity of systems by integrating their functionalities into the material and reducing material diversity. We always have industrial products in mind when developing the programmable materials. As such, we take mass production processes and material fatigue into account, among other things,” says Franziska Wenz, deputy spokesperson on the topic at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM, another core institute of Fraunhofer CPM. The initial pilot projects with industry partners are also already underway. The research team expects that initially, programmable materials will act as replacements for components in existing systems or be used in special applications such as medical mattresses, comfortable chairs, variable damping shoe soles and protective clothing. “Gradually, the proportion of programmable materials used will increase,” says Andrä. Ultimately, they can be used everywhere – from medicine and sporting goods to soft robotics and even space research.

Source:

Fraunhofer ITWM

Photo: Messe Düsseldorf, Constanze Tillmann
21.12.2022

WearRAcon Europe Conference to be held at A+A 2023

Under the motto “People Matter” A+A 2023, a Trade Fair for Safety, Security and Health at Work, will revolve around the most important trends of our time: sustainability and digitalisation. Here, exoskeletons also play a prominent role as tomorrow’s ergonomic tools. An important conference in this field is WearRAcon Europe which will be held at A+A from 25 – 26 October 2023 for the first time.

The Conference will be organised by the Fraunhofer Institute IPA in cooperation with the Stuttgart University and the Wearable Robotics Association (WearRA). The 38th A+A Congress, which is held by Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft für Sicherheit und Gesundheit bei der Arbeit (German Federal Association for Occupational Safety and Health - Basi) will be closely dovetailed thematically and in terms of content with it.

Under the motto “People Matter” A+A 2023, a Trade Fair for Safety, Security and Health at Work, will revolve around the most important trends of our time: sustainability and digitalisation. Here, exoskeletons also play a prominent role as tomorrow’s ergonomic tools. An important conference in this field is WearRAcon Europe which will be held at A+A from 25 – 26 October 2023 for the first time.

The Conference will be organised by the Fraunhofer Institute IPA in cooperation with the Stuttgart University and the Wearable Robotics Association (WearRA). The 38th A+A Congress, which is held by Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft für Sicherheit und Gesundheit bei der Arbeit (German Federal Association for Occupational Safety and Health - Basi) will be closely dovetailed thematically and in terms of content with it.

Being able to walk again despite a serious injury, handle heavy parts without outside help or simply do overhead work comfortably and for extended periods of time - the advantages of exoskeletons have already convinced numerous industries. Exoskeletons and wearables are now already being used successfully in industry and commerce, and major machine builders and automakers as well as the medical sector are continuing to experiment with man-machine connections. Currently, the global market volume for exoskeletons is valued by leading analysts at over US$20 billion by 2030.1

The WearRAcon Europe Conference 2023 will provide new insights into the promising world of exoskeleton systems from different perspectives and, in conjunction with the A+A Congress, set future-oriented impulses. Lectures by renowned exoskeleton pioneers combined with testimonials presented by users from a variety of industries and keynotes by experts will round off the programme. And, like at the previous A+A, a Self-Experience Space will again be set up so that the exoskeleton systems of various manufacturers can be tested in realistic work scenarios.

In parallel with the Self-Experience Space, the large live study Exoworkathlon will also take place again. Trainees from various mechatronic training courses have to complete a concourse and perform holding, lifting and assembling tasks, which have been specially developed with the industry. Data is prospectively collected with different measuring sensors to measure the effects of exoskeletons. In the Exoworkathlon, the IPA focuses especially on prevention for young employees in order to raise awareness of the issue and counteract ailments at an early stage.

1(Interview Trans.INFO mit Armin G. Schmidt, CEO von German Bionic (01/2021).

Source:

Messe Düsseldorf GmbH

(c) FET
Business Secretary Grant Shapps discusses FET’s wet spinning system with Mark Smith, FET R&D Manager
16.12.2022

FET extrusion system features in UK Business Secretary’s visit

The UK’s new Business Secretary, Grant Shapps has visited the Henry Royce Institute’ hub in Manchester to seal the second phase of R&D investment in the institute of £95 million. Fibre Extrusion Technology Limited (FET) of Leeds, England had previously installed its FET-200LAB wet spinning system at the University of Manchester site and this proved to be a focus for the Business Secretary’s interest, as he discussed the project with FET’s Research and Development Manager, Mark Smith.

This wet spinning technology enables fibres to be derived from sustainable wood pulp to produce high quality apparel and trials are now underway to perfect this process. FET is a world leading supplier of laboratory and pilot melt spinning systems, having successfully processed more than 35 different polymer types in multifilament, monofilament and nonwoven formats.

During his visit, Shapps spoke of the investment programme as a means of reinforcing the UK’s standing as a leader in advanced materials research, development and innovation.

The UK’s new Business Secretary, Grant Shapps has visited the Henry Royce Institute’ hub in Manchester to seal the second phase of R&D investment in the institute of £95 million. Fibre Extrusion Technology Limited (FET) of Leeds, England had previously installed its FET-200LAB wet spinning system at the University of Manchester site and this proved to be a focus for the Business Secretary’s interest, as he discussed the project with FET’s Research and Development Manager, Mark Smith.

This wet spinning technology enables fibres to be derived from sustainable wood pulp to produce high quality apparel and trials are now underway to perfect this process. FET is a world leading supplier of laboratory and pilot melt spinning systems, having successfully processed more than 35 different polymer types in multifilament, monofilament and nonwoven formats.

During his visit, Shapps spoke of the investment programme as a means of reinforcing the UK’s standing as a leader in advanced materials research, development and innovation.

“R&D investment is a critical way to turbocharge Britain’s growth. Growing an economy fit for the future means harnessing the full potential of advanced materials, making science fiction a reality by supporting projects from regenerative medicine to robots developing new recycling capabilities, right across the country. Today’s £95 million investment will do just that, bringing together the brightest minds across our businesses and institutions to help future-proof sectors from healthcare to nuclear energy.”

The Henry Royce Institute was established in 2015 with an initial £235 million government investment through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the latest £95 million sum represents the second phase of the investment.

Opportunities being investigated by Royce include lightweight materials and structures, biomaterials and materials designed for reuse, recycling and remanufacture. Advanced materials are critical to the UK future in various industries, such as health, transport, energy, electronics and utilities.

(c) Rieter
Autoconer X6
31.10.2022

Rieter at India ITME 2022

Rieter is presenting the latest innovations in its systems, components and services at the upcoming India ITME 2022 in Uttar Pradesh (India), taking place from December 8 – 13, 2022.

Autoconer X6
The automatic winding machine Autoconer X6 completes the Rieter ring and compact-spinning systems. The machine serves as the final quality assurance in the ring and compact-spinning process and is key to the performance of the subsequent process stages. The Multilink system with Multilot offers maximum flexibility to handle a different type of yarn.

The latest splicer generation OZ1 and OZ2 provides an optimum splice quality based on an open prism. With only two prisms spinning mills can splice the entire spectrum of cotton yarns as well as blends. They are also used for the splicing of cotton-based elastic core yarns in combination with the Elastosplicer. The splice zone exhibits an impressive elasticity in the fabric.

Rieter is presenting the latest innovations in its systems, components and services at the upcoming India ITME 2022 in Uttar Pradesh (India), taking place from December 8 – 13, 2022.

Autoconer X6
The automatic winding machine Autoconer X6 completes the Rieter ring and compact-spinning systems. The machine serves as the final quality assurance in the ring and compact-spinning process and is key to the performance of the subsequent process stages. The Multilink system with Multilot offers maximum flexibility to handle a different type of yarn.

The latest splicer generation OZ1 and OZ2 provides an optimum splice quality based on an open prism. With only two prisms spinning mills can splice the entire spectrum of cotton yarns as well as blends. They are also used for the splicing of cotton-based elastic core yarns in combination with the Elastosplicer. The splice zone exhibits an impressive elasticity in the fabric.

Compacting Solutions
The Rieter compacting devices include the COMPACTapron, COMPACTeasy and COMPACTdrum. Spinning mills can change quickly between ring and compact yarn and offer customers a broader product range.

Recycling Expertise from Rotor to Ring
Rieter offers solutions for the integration of recycled raw material into yarn production to help close the textile loop and make fashion more circular. Both rotor and ring yarns can be produced with a considerable amount of mechanically recycled fibers.

ESSENTIALorder
Based on existing customer information, the webshop ESSENTIALorder visualizes which Rieter machines andn systems are available inside each spinning mill. It therefore offers a personalized shopping experience and facilitates order management, enabling spinning mills to optimize their internal stock levels.

ROBOspin
The piecing robot ROBOspin reduces personnel requirements in the ring spinning section by 50%. The robot also attains productivity increases thanks to higher spindle speeds at equal or higher efficiency.

SSM NEO-FD
SSM is presenting NEO-FD, the assembly-winding machine for precision wound packages for twisting. It meets all requirements for efficient production. The machine features the auto-doffing option and the online back-pressure system for low and high package densities.

Temco CoolFlow Disc
Temco’s CoolFlow texturing discs offer longer lifetime thanks to a brand-new geometry and the latest polyurethane technology. The texturing discs now generate a disc surface that operates at a lower temperature, resulting in slower ageing and abrasion. Further benefits are more stable yarn quality, higher productivity, and an overall process cost reduction.

(c) BTMA by AWOL Media
08.09.2022

Shelton Vision presents new fabric inspection technique

A new fabric inspection technique for accurately detecting the most subtle of defects on patterned fabrics during high speed production has been developed by BTMA member Shelton Vision, of Leicester, UK.

The patent-pending system has been integrated into the company’s WebSpector platform and validated through factory trials on a purpose-built full scale in-house demonstration system with sophisticated fabric transport capabilities. As a result, a first system has already been ordered by a manufacturer of both plain and patterned fabrics, including camouflage, in Colombia. This follows the successful conclusion of a 21-month Innovate UK project in which techniques for the resolution of complex pattern deformations were developed by machine vision and computer scientists in the company, backed up by the machine vision and robotics department at Loughborough University.

A new fabric inspection technique for accurately detecting the most subtle of defects on patterned fabrics during high speed production has been developed by BTMA member Shelton Vision, of Leicester, UK.

The patent-pending system has been integrated into the company’s WebSpector platform and validated through factory trials on a purpose-built full scale in-house demonstration system with sophisticated fabric transport capabilities. As a result, a first system has already been ordered by a manufacturer of both plain and patterned fabrics, including camouflage, in Colombia. This follows the successful conclusion of a 21-month Innovate UK project in which techniques for the resolution of complex pattern deformations were developed by machine vision and computer scientists in the company, backed up by the machine vision and robotics department at Loughborough University.

Restrictions
Traditional methods for defect detection rely on human inspection which is ineffective, with detection rates under 65%, while the Shelton WebSpector machine vision system offers a sophisticated platform for automated defect detection of over 97%, but until now has been restricted to plain textiles.

While pattern matching and neural network approaches have previously been tried for patterned textiles, they have failed to provide a practical solution due to the extreme complexity associated with pattern matching on deformable substrates like textiles, as well as the time required to train a neural network for each pattern type.

Challenges
The challenge is that fabrics are not rigid and can be creased or stretched and are also subject to local distortion,” says Shelton Vision Managing Director and CEO Mark Shelton. “As a result, inspection without the technique we have developed, would lead to thousands of false positives. Our sophisticated pattern inspection software techniques ensure a clean image, allowing the detection of faults on fabrics running at speeds of up to a hundred metres a minute.”

The full system consists of:

  • A camera and lighting system for optimum image capture at high speed and associated image processing hardware.
  • Self-training software utilising statistical analysis to automate the system configuration for new textile products.
  • An advanced suite of defect detection algorithms for the detection of all textile defect types.
  • An AI-driven defect classification system which learns and automates defect naming in real time, as well as a real time defect grading capability based on client decision rules.
  • A system for recording and retrieving complete roll map images for subsequent review and quality control.

The generation of textile roll maps with complete defect data allows for an optimised textile cut plan, improved downstream processing and quality assurance.

Source:

BTMA by AWOL Media

29.06.2022

Start of registrations for A+A 2023

Exhibiting companies can now register for A+A 2023! The world's leading trade fair and congress event for personal protection, occupational safety and health at work will take place in Düsseldorf from 24 to 27 October 2023.

Under the motto "People count", numerous exhibitors will present innovative solutions and concepts for safe and healthy working at A+A 2023. This time, the thematic umbrella of the international trade fair is formed by the megatrends of digitalisation and sustainability.

Decision-makers and experts will find cross-sector solutions and answers to the important questions surrounding a safe, healthy and sustainable workplace. From personal protective equipment (PPE), operational fire protection, environmental protection or disaster prevention to offers for ergonomic and healthy workplace design.

The focus will be on topics such as sustainability and the circular economy of products, digital services in the provision, care and storage of PPE, mobile working, exoskeletons (wearable robots) and wearables. Forums and side events as well as an innovative Start-up Zone complement the trade fair and set new, future-oriented impulses.

Exhibiting companies can now register for A+A 2023! The world's leading trade fair and congress event for personal protection, occupational safety and health at work will take place in Düsseldorf from 24 to 27 October 2023.

Under the motto "People count", numerous exhibitors will present innovative solutions and concepts for safe and healthy working at A+A 2023. This time, the thematic umbrella of the international trade fair is formed by the megatrends of digitalisation and sustainability.

Decision-makers and experts will find cross-sector solutions and answers to the important questions surrounding a safe, healthy and sustainable workplace. From personal protective equipment (PPE), operational fire protection, environmental protection or disaster prevention to offers for ergonomic and healthy workplace design.

The focus will be on topics such as sustainability and the circular economy of products, digital services in the provision, care and storage of PPE, mobile working, exoskeletons (wearable robots) and wearables. Forums and side events as well as an innovative Start-up Zone complement the trade fair and set new, future-oriented impulses.

For more information and registration click here.

Source:

Messe Düsseldorf GmbH

(c) Oerlikon
The new Staple Fiber Technology Center in Neumünster
13.05.2022

Oerlikon Polymer Processing Solutions at Techtextil 2022

  • Sustainable infrastructure solutions, road safety and health protection

At this year’s Techtextil, Oerlikon Polymer Processing Solutions will be presenting the trade audience with new applications, special processes and sustainable solutions focusing on the production of industrial textiles. Among other things, the company will be showcasing new technology for charging nonwovens that sets new standards with regards to quality and efficiency. Between June 21 and 24, the discussions will be concentrating on airbags, seat belts, tire cord, geotextiles, filter nonwovens and their diverse applications.

  • Sustainable infrastructure solutions, road safety and health protection

At this year’s Techtextil, Oerlikon Polymer Processing Solutions will be presenting the trade audience with new applications, special processes and sustainable solutions focusing on the production of industrial textiles. Among other things, the company will be showcasing new technology for charging nonwovens that sets new standards with regards to quality and efficiency. Between June 21 and 24, the discussions will be concentrating on airbags, seat belts, tire cord, geotextiles, filter nonwovens and their diverse applications.

More polyester for airbags
Airbags have become an integral part of our everyday automotive lives. The yarns used in them are made predominantly from polyamide. As a result of increasingly diverse airbag applications and also the increasing size of the systems used, polyester is today used as well, depending on the application requirements and cost-benefit considerations. Against this background, the Oerlikon Barmag technologies make an invaluable contribution. In addition to high productivity and low energy consumption, they particularly excel in terms of their stable production processes. Furthermore, they comply with every high quality standard for airbags, which – as in the case of virtually all other textile products used in vehicle construction – must provide the highest level of safety for vehicle occupants. And all this without any loss of function in any climate and anywhere in the world for the lifetime of the vehicle.

Buckle up!
Seat belts play a decisive role in protecting vehicle occupants. They have to withstand tensile forces in excess of three tons and simultaneously stretch in a controlled manner in emergencies in order to reduce the load in the event of impact. A seat belt comprises approximately 300 filament yarns, whose individual, high-tenacity yarn threads are spun from around 100 individual filaments.

Invisible, but essential – road reinforcement using geotextiles
But it not just inside vehicles, but also under them, that industrial yarns reveal their strengths. Low stretch, ultra-high tenacity, high rigidity – industrial yarns offer outstanding properties for the demanding tasks carried out by geotextiles; for instance, as geogrids in the base course system under asphalt. Normally, geotextiles have extremely high yarn titers of up to 24,000 denier. Oerlikon Barmag system concepts simultaneously manufacture three filament yarns of 6,000 denier each. Due to the high spinning titers, fewer yarns can be plied together to the required geo-yarn titer in a more cost- and energy-efficient manner.

hycuTEC – technological quantum leap for filter media
In the case of its hycuTEC hydro-charging solution, Oerlikon Neumag offers a new technology for charging nonwovens that increases filter efficiency to more than 99.99%. For meltblown producers, this means material savings of 30% with significantly superior filter performance. For end users, the consequence is noticeably improved comfort resulting from significantly reduced breathing resistance. With its considerably lower water and energy consumption, this new development is also a future-proof, sustainable technology.

New high-tech Staple Fiber Technology Center
Extending to around 2,100 m2, Oerlikon Neumag in Neumünster is home to one of the world’s largest staple fiber technology centers. As of now, these state-of-the-art staple fiber technologies are also available for customer-specific trials.

The focus during the planning and the design of the Technology Center was on optimizing components and processes. Here, special attention was paid to ensuring the process and production parameters in the Technology Center system could be simply and reliably transferred to production systems. Here, the fiber tape processing line is modular in design. All components can be combined with each other as required. And comprehensive set-up options supply detailed findings for the respective process for various fiber products.

The Technology Center is also equipped with two spinning positions for mono- and bi-component processes. The same round spin packs are used for both processes, characterized by excellent fiber quality and properties and meanwhile very successfully deployed in all Oerlikon Neumag production systems. Furthermore, the spinning plant is complemented by automation solutions such as spin pack scraper robots, for example.

More information:
Oerlikon Neumag Techtextil
Source:

Oerlikon

Mobile robot system for automated loading of a bobbin creel (c) STFI
12.05.2022

STFI with sustainable and digital innovations at Techtextil 2022

The Saxon Textile Research Institute (STFI) will be presenting innovative highlights from research and development at Techtextil 2022, the international trade fair for technical textiles and nonwovens. In addition to a warp-knitted textile façade greening in a modular system and textile lightweight construction elements for the building sector made from hemp as a renewable raw material, the STFI will also be showing innovations from nonwovens research. The project optiformTEX is an example of the nonwovens competence: in this project, the mass per unit area was specifically influenced for the production of semi-finished products in the automotive sector. Furthermore, the Chemnitz Institute exhibits an ecological foam coating for protective textiles. Central highlight of the STFI's presence at the fair is also a mobile robot system, which demonstrates the automated loading of a small-scale bobbin creel.

The Saxon Textile Research Institute (STFI) will be presenting innovative highlights from research and development at Techtextil 2022, the international trade fair for technical textiles and nonwovens. In addition to a warp-knitted textile façade greening in a modular system and textile lightweight construction elements for the building sector made from hemp as a renewable raw material, the STFI will also be showing innovations from nonwovens research. The project optiformTEX is an example of the nonwovens competence: in this project, the mass per unit area was specifically influenced for the production of semi-finished products in the automotive sector. Furthermore, the Chemnitz Institute exhibits an ecological foam coating for protective textiles. Central highlight of the STFI's presence at the fair is also a mobile robot system, which demonstrates the automated loading of a small-scale bobbin creel.

Highlights at Techtextil 2022
The greened façade tile is a system with which large building surfaces can be cost-effectively greened through a simple, modular segment structure. In addition to insulating the building, the system has been created to meet the design requirements of a modern city centre; low-maintenance greening is made possible through functional integration in the textile carrier layer and coordinated plant selection.

Moulded components made of natural fibre nonwovens are increasingly used in the automotive sector. Conventional nonwovens currently have uniform masses per unit area. Technical solutions for load-oriented component reinforcement and the resulting optimised use of materials represent an enormous economic potential. The basic idea of “optiformTEX” was therefore to specifically influence the mass per unit area distribution in the pile before the semi-finished product is consolidated. As a result, a textile-technological process and the corresponding plant component were successfully developed.

Future-oriented materials are offered by developments from the field of renewable raw materials in combination with bio-based resin systems: In the “Gro-Coce” project, an innovative ceiling system was developed by combining sustainable building products and methods. Currently, a high-performance hemp-based semi-finished product as well as the steps for its reproducible production by means of textile surface formation is developed by the research team. Initial application and load tests of the hemp-based semi-finished products on wooden beams confirmed the high performance potential of the natural fibre materials.

Special functional textiles are based on composite materials with coatings or membranes. The previous production of the coatings/membranes poses ecological and health risks. At STFI, solvent-free, purely aqueous coating systems and a technology for their application were therefore developed for the protective textile sector, resulting in a breathable, waterproof and wash-resistant textile coating.

The central highlight of the STFI's presence at the fair is a mobile robot system, which demonstrates the automated loading of a small-scale bobbin creel. At the STFI, the robot is part of the “textile factory of the future”, where a play mat is woven and processed step by step along the textile chain.

(c) Eton
22.04.2022

More localised and automated textile manufacturing with TMAS technologies

At the forthcoming Texprocess, Techtextil and Heimtextil shows taking place in Frankfurt from June 21-24 – members of the Swedish Textile Machinery Association TMAS will be showcasing a range of solutions aligning with the growing trend for more localised and automated textile manufacturing.

Digitalisation and the push for more sustainable, shorter and less expensive supply chains are currently making manufacturing in high-cost countries within Europe more attractive and there have been many other contributing factors to this over the past two years.

The Covid-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerability of many countries to shortages of essential items like PPE while at the same time making the full exploitation of new digital options essential during national lock-downs and long periods of restricted travel. The escalating cost of global transportation, as well as the growth of online retailing and the associated benefits of on-demand digital manufacturing, are further reinforcing the many benefits of short-run and near-shore new operations.

At the forthcoming Texprocess, Techtextil and Heimtextil shows taking place in Frankfurt from June 21-24 – members of the Swedish Textile Machinery Association TMAS will be showcasing a range of solutions aligning with the growing trend for more localised and automated textile manufacturing.

Digitalisation and the push for more sustainable, shorter and less expensive supply chains are currently making manufacturing in high-cost countries within Europe more attractive and there have been many other contributing factors to this over the past two years.

The Covid-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerability of many countries to shortages of essential items like PPE while at the same time making the full exploitation of new digital options essential during national lock-downs and long periods of restricted travel. The escalating cost of global transportation, as well as the growth of online retailing and the associated benefits of on-demand digital manufacturing, are further reinforcing the many benefits of short-run and near-shore new operations.

Secure supply
At Texprocess, for example, Eton Systems will be unveiling its latest Ingenious software solution which further enhances the company’s Opta Unit Production System (UPS) introduced in 2021.

“Our automated technology has already had a great impact on the productivity of thousands of garment production lines,” says Eton’s Managing Director Jerker Krabbe. “Our systems help producers across the world to reduce repetitive manual tasks and increase efficiency, which evens out some of the differences between production in high and low-cost countries, making reshoring a feasible option. Creating a diversified production portfolio with a mix of production facilities, some closer to home, makes for a more secure product supply.”

Flexibility
Imogo meanwhile recently installed the first industrial scale dyeing system in Sweden for many years. The Dye-Max spray dyeing line has the potential to slash the use of fresh water, wastewater, energy and chemicals by as much as 90% compared to conventional jet dyeing systems. It is capable of carrying out the application of a wide range of fabric pre-treatments and finishing processes, providing users with unbeatable flexibility in production.

“Here in Scandinavia, we are currently seeing an explosion of companies developing sustainable new cellulosic fibres – many from waste clothing – but a problem is that all of the environmental benefits they deliver can potentially be lost in the further processing, and especially in conventional dyeing,” observes the company’s Founding Partner Per Stenflo. “The Dye-Max system positively addresses this, but interest in it has not just been confined to Europe. We are currently seeing a lot of activity in Turkey – largely as a near-shore partner to European brands – but also in Bangladesh.”

Robotics at Heimtextil
ACG Kinna Automatic specialises in automation solutions for filled products such as quilts, pillows and mattresses and its live demonstrations of robotics in action have proved a magnet for visitors to Heimtextil. This year’s show will be no exception.

“The use of robotics is now standard across many industries dealing in solid goods, but the handling of soft materials such as textiles is a little more complex,” says Managing Director Christian Moore. “Nevertheless, it’s something we have successfully mastered, and our robotic systems are proving highly beneficial to their users. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution when it comes to automation and our approach is always to carefully examine where it will make the difference in each bespoke system. A focus is on identifying and eliminating bottlenecks which will increase product flows.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic, ACG Kinna drew on all of its automation know-how and extensive network of contacts to build a new nonwovens fabric converting and single-use garment making-up plant in a matter of weeks, in order to supply the Swedish authorities with urgently-needed medical gowns.

Instant colour
Localised textile production is also booming in the USA, where Coloreel has recently secured multiple orders for its instant thread colouration technology via its US partner Hirsch.

“Coloreel technology enables the high-quality and instant colouring of a textile thread while it is actually being used in production and can be paired with any existing embroidery machine without modification, while also making it possible to produce gradients in an embroidery for the first time,” explains VP of Sales Sven Öquist.

“Advanced rapid colour formulation software and high-speed drive technology allow a single needle to carry out what it previously required many multiples of them to do – and with much more consistent stitch quality. By instantly colouring a recycled white base thread during production, our system enables complete freedom to create unique embroideries without any limitations. Colour changes along the thread can either be made rapidly from one solid colour to another, or gradually, to make smooth transitions or any colouring effect desired. This provides big benefits when it comes to sustainability and design creativity.”

Milestone
Svegea will be promoting its latest EC 300 collarette cutting machine at Texprocess 2022. This machine is used by garment manufacturers around the world for the production of tubular apparel components such as waistbands, cuff and neck tapes and other seam reinforcements. With its E-Drive 2 system and fully automatic FA500 roll slitter, the EC 300 has an output of around 20,000 metres per hour.

“Advances in automation are only making the specialised, bespoke machines we engineer even more efficient and we are expecting a very busy year,” says Managing Director Håkan Steene. “The garment components our collarette cutters produce make it logical for them to be integrated into the operations of making-up operations, wherever they are.”

Sensors
The advanced yarn tension monitoring technologies of Eltex of Sweden meanwhile play an essential role in rectifying defects in  weaving, tufting and composite reinforcement operations.

“A correct tension of the warp and weft threads ensures proper machine operation,” explains Eltex Global Marketing and Sales Manager Anoop K. Sharma “The constant tension monitoring and automatic control of the tension of the thread help to overcome unnecessary problems.

“We continue to make advances in both the hardware and software of our tension monitoring systems, such as the EyE™ for the warping process. With the EyE™, the yarn tension values from all yarns are continuously updated and displayed on screen. In addition, tension values outside the warning level are indicated both on the sensor’s LEDs and on the screen for complete quality control. No fabric can be woven without the appropriate and correct tension.”

Source:

AWOL Media

(c) COBRA International
12.04.2022

COBRA International showcases its portfolio for vehicle systems at AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2022

Cobra International will showcase its portfolio of design and manufacturing solutions for the unmanned vehicle systems sector when the company exhibits alongside long-term partner HiveGround at the AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2022 conference.

Taking centre stage on the Cobra stand will be a fully assembled Swiftlet UAV. This compact tactical fixed wing UAV platform has a 5.5m wingspan and was developed by the Royal Thai Air Force and National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) for a broad range of survey, monitoring and search and rescue (SAR) operations. Cobra manufactured the 30kg Swiftlet composite airframe using a combination of CNC cut carbon sandwich internal structure and PVC foam sandwich skins using both high grade glass fibre and carbon fibre reinforcements.

Visitors to the Cobra stand will also see the VETAL, a twin rotor vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) drone with a composite airframe manufactured by Cobra for HiveGround, the Thailand based developer of UAV surveying and robotics systems.

Cobra International will showcase its portfolio of design and manufacturing solutions for the unmanned vehicle systems sector when the company exhibits alongside long-term partner HiveGround at the AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2022 conference.

Taking centre stage on the Cobra stand will be a fully assembled Swiftlet UAV. This compact tactical fixed wing UAV platform has a 5.5m wingspan and was developed by the Royal Thai Air Force and National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) for a broad range of survey, monitoring and search and rescue (SAR) operations. Cobra manufactured the 30kg Swiftlet composite airframe using a combination of CNC cut carbon sandwich internal structure and PVC foam sandwich skins using both high grade glass fibre and carbon fibre reinforcements.

Visitors to the Cobra stand will also see the VETAL, a twin rotor vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) drone with a composite airframe manufactured by Cobra for HiveGround, the Thailand based developer of UAV surveying and robotics systems.

At AUVSI XPONENTIAL, Cobra will also illustrate how the company leverages innovation and expertise developed in its water sports and automotive business to enhance its product offering to the UAV sector. Products on display include a Fliteboard electric foiling surfboard, pre-preg hydrofoil parts, lightweight medical prosthetics, flax and forged carbon parts, as well as a full set of visual carbon and painted automotive trims, each demonstrating the company’s high volume production capacity for ultra-light carbon composite structures.

The show will take place from the 25 to 28 April at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida.

Source:

COBRA International / 100% Marketing

28.03.2022

Startups and AkzoNobel sign letters of intent for joint collaboration

Less than 24 hours after winning Paint the Future awards, three startups have already signed their letters of intent to continue working together on sustainable business opportunities with AkzoNobel.

It’s the next step of a continuing collaborative innovation journey. The startups had the opportunity to explore their solutions with their mentors and industry experts through each phase of the global startup challenge, including an intense three-day bootcamp. Now having signed the letters of intent, they will develop their solutions even further with AkzoNobel.

“The winning startups are joining our go-to-market acceleration program, connecting them to a global network of people and resources,” says Menno van der Zalm, Director of the AkzoNobel Incubator. “Over the next six months, we’ll work together to validate their solutions for our customers and develop a joint value case.”

The following three solutions won over the international jury of experts and business leaders:

Less than 24 hours after winning Paint the Future awards, three startups have already signed their letters of intent to continue working together on sustainable business opportunities with AkzoNobel.

It’s the next step of a continuing collaborative innovation journey. The startups had the opportunity to explore their solutions with their mentors and industry experts through each phase of the global startup challenge, including an intense three-day bootcamp. Now having signed the letters of intent, they will develop their solutions even further with AkzoNobel.

“The winning startups are joining our go-to-market acceleration program, connecting them to a global network of people and resources,” says Menno van der Zalm, Director of the AkzoNobel Incubator. “Over the next six months, we’ll work together to validate their solutions for our customers and develop a joint value case.”

The following three solutions won over the international jury of experts and business leaders:

  • Winner: SolCold
    The solution from Israeli startup SolCold is a sustainable self-cooling coating based on anti-Stokes. It uses the sun’s energy to keep the inside temperature much cooler without having to use any electricity.
  • Winner: Aerones
    Latvian startup Aerones brings a robotic solution to wind turbine maintenance. Their crawling robot allows technicians to safely and efficiently perform inspections, cleaning and repairs at height.
  • Winner: SprayVision
    From the Czech Republic, SprayVision brings a data-driven approach to optimizing spray application of paint, offering customers full control over the process. The solution helps to reduce environmental impact by saving material and improving quality.
Source:

AkzoNobel

Three Startups receive the Paint the Future award from AkzoNobel (c) AkzoNobel
24.03.2022

Three Startups receive the Paint the Future award from AkzoNobel

The three winners of the Paint the Future global startup challenge are all set to accelerate their innovative solutions for the paints and coatings industry. Following an intense three-day bootcamp, these startups were selected by an international jury to continue working with AkzoNobel on sustainable business opportunities.
 
These are the three winners of the Paint the Future global startup challenge:

  • SolCold (Israel) - Sustainable self-cooling coating based on anti-Stokes
  • Aerones (Latvia) - Robotics for wind turbine maintenance
  • SprayVision (Czech Republic) - Data-driven approach to optimal spray application of paint

“Through Paint the Future, we’re bringing innovation and sustainability together as a key driver of our business,” says Thierry Vanlancker, AkzoNobel CEO. “In our ecosystem, we collaborate with startups, suppliers, customers and academia around exciting solutions that will ensure a more sustainable future.”

The three winners of the Paint the Future global startup challenge are all set to accelerate their innovative solutions for the paints and coatings industry. Following an intense three-day bootcamp, these startups were selected by an international jury to continue working with AkzoNobel on sustainable business opportunities.
 
These are the three winners of the Paint the Future global startup challenge:

  • SolCold (Israel) - Sustainable self-cooling coating based on anti-Stokes
  • Aerones (Latvia) - Robotics for wind turbine maintenance
  • SprayVision (Czech Republic) - Data-driven approach to optimal spray application of paint

“Through Paint the Future, we’re bringing innovation and sustainability together as a key driver of our business,” says Thierry Vanlancker, AkzoNobel CEO. “In our ecosystem, we collaborate with startups, suppliers, customers and academia around exciting solutions that will ensure a more sustainable future.”

Paint the Future startup challenges are designed to connect startups with industry knowledge and expertise to help accelerate their solutions in the paints and coatings industry. This Paint the Future global startup challenge launched May 18, 2021, attracting 245 submissions from 62 countries. Ten finalists were invited to Amsterdam to participate in the bootcamp program.
 
This is AkzoNobel’s second global startup challenge, following its industry-first predecessor in 2019. Regional startup challenges have since been held in Brazil (2020), China (2021), and most recently in India (2022).

More information:
AkzoNobel Sustainability Coatings
Source:

AkzoNobel

Photo: Ralph Koch for Mayer & Cie.
23.03.2022

Mayer & Cie.: Successful 2021 - Digitisation, Sustainability and Modernisation topics for 2022

Looking back, 2021 was a positive year for the Albstadt-based circular knitting machine and braiding machine manufacturer Mayer & Cie. After two tough years, sales exceeded Euro 100 million again last year, and the outlook for this year is promising, with production working at long-term full capacity in the circular knitting machine sector.

Looking back, 2021 was a positive year for the Albstadt-based circular knitting machine and braiding machine manufacturer Mayer & Cie. After two tough years, sales exceeded Euro 100 million again last year, and the outlook for this year is promising, with production working at long-term full capacity in the circular knitting machine sector.

In order to maintain its market edge Mayer & Cie. continues to rely on digitisation of both its processes and its products. Substantial investment at its headquarters location, especially in machinery, is on the Mayer & Cie. agenda for 2022. In the years ahead a range of production machinery – lathes, gear cutting and grinding machines – is to be replaced at a scheduled cost running into low double-digit millions. Last year saw an investment in a robot-controlled laser hardening system for heat-treating machine components. The company passes an energy upgrade milestone these days with launching its new CHP cogeneration units.  
 
“Compared with 2020, our Group sales were up by about 40 per cent in 2021,” said Mayer & Cie. Managing Director Benjamin Mayer. After two difficult years in 2019 and 2020 the circular knitting machine manufacturer was able last year to restore sales to a stable level of about 103 million Euro. And it could have achieved an even better result. “Supply chain problems hampered production perceptibly,” the company’s managing director said. “In view of the order situation up to five per cent more might have been possible.” The Albstadt textile machinery manufacturer’s order position has stayed at a sound, high level since the fourth quarter of 2020, and orders in hand will already keep the circular knitting machine division busy until the end of the year, with orders coming in from all over the world, but especially, and with no change, from the company’s core markets Turkey, China and India.

The Management views with concern, however, the conflict in the Ukraine, which at first glance may not affect the sales market directly but might lead to general purchasing restraint in the capital goods sector that like the trade war between the United States and China, which began in 2018, would also affect Mayer & Cie. In addition, effects of the conflict such as high energy prices and interruptions in material supplies and logistics pose a genuine challenge in the further course of the year.

In the braiding machine division, the order position recovered in 2021. Sales of new machines and, especially, spare parts exceeded the 2020 figures significantly. Mayer & Cie. has once more won an award for its in-house and external digitisation measures as one of the most innovative German SMEs. The textile machinery manufacturer won a 2022 Top 100 award for its innovative processes in particular.

Source:

Mayer & Cie.

(c) Automatex / TMAS
03.03.2022

Automatex: Full automation from the roll to the finished product

Automatex, a member of TMAS, the Swedish textile machinery association, has recently supplied a number of its latest Industry 4.0-enabled automatic fitted sheet systems to customers in Europe.

The Automatex model FDC-77735-B90D-EC system enables the full production and folding of six fully-fitted sheets per minute – approaching 3,000 an average shift – overseen by a single operator and eliminating many of the repetitive cut and sew operations of the past. Elastics insertion –  usually a highly complex labour-intensive task – can be on all four sides of the sheet, two, or simply within the corners, depending on customer specifications.

Fabric is fed directly from the roll, with precise edge guiding and tension control, into a length-wise hemming and elastics insertion section with adjustable tension devices, before being measured and cross cut in an accumulator. It is then transferred to the cross hemming section, again with elastics insertion.

Automatex, a member of TMAS, the Swedish textile machinery association, has recently supplied a number of its latest Industry 4.0-enabled automatic fitted sheet systems to customers in Europe.

The Automatex model FDC-77735-B90D-EC system enables the full production and folding of six fully-fitted sheets per minute – approaching 3,000 an average shift – overseen by a single operator and eliminating many of the repetitive cut and sew operations of the past. Elastics insertion –  usually a highly complex labour-intensive task – can be on all four sides of the sheet, two, or simply within the corners, depending on customer specifications.

Fabric is fed directly from the roll, with precise edge guiding and tension control, into a length-wise hemming and elastics insertion section with adjustable tension devices, before being measured and cross cut in an accumulator. It is then transferred to the cross hemming section, again with elastics insertion.

A side drop forming unit pre-forms the sheet before it is transported by a multi-axis clamp conveyor system to the corner sewing section, consisting of left and right overlock sewing heads. Here, the corners are robotically sewn at 90 degrees and labels are also attached when specified.

Further customised systems for folding are also supplied as required.

Source:

TMAS / AWOL Media

(c) Zünd Systemtechnik AG
16.02.2022

Zünd: Award-winning software tools for automated cutting

Zünd has evolved into a complete solutions provider in cutting/finishing workflows and automation. The market leader in digital cutting systems offers customers tailor-made workflow solutions for every step of digital production. In recognition of the wide-ranging benefits and exceptional price-performance ratio of these software solutions, a jury of experts from the European Digital Press Association EDP awarded them the distinction of «Best in Class».

Zünd receives EDP awards for three of its software tools. The jury declares PrimeCenter the «Best Workflow Solution», while the Pick&Place Interface Option and the Visualizing Option are recognized as «Best in Robotics» and «Best Print Support Tool», respectively.

Zünd has evolved into a complete solutions provider in cutting/finishing workflows and automation. The market leader in digital cutting systems offers customers tailor-made workflow solutions for every step of digital production. In recognition of the wide-ranging benefits and exceptional price-performance ratio of these software solutions, a jury of experts from the European Digital Press Association EDP awarded them the distinction of «Best in Class».

Zünd receives EDP awards for three of its software tools. The jury declares PrimeCenter the «Best Workflow Solution», while the Pick&Place Interface Option and the Visualizing Option are recognized as «Best in Robotics» and «Best Print Support Tool», respectively.

Zünd is known worldwide for its advanced, high-performance digital cutting systems «made in Switzerland». For some time now, the Swiss manufacturer has also been making a name for itself with user-friendly automation software such as PrimeCenter for prepress, as well as the Visualizing Option and the Pick&Place Interface Option for digital production. The latter are two highly effective solutions for removing/unloading cut parts, offering visual support and robot integration, respectively. On account of its exceptional know-how and consulting expertise,

  • PrimeCenter automation software serves as control center for creating print & cut files and enables a highly efficient and productive prepress workflow. In a few clicks, users create fully nested print & cut jobs.
     
  • The Pick&Place Interface Option lets Zünd Cut Center – ZCC control a robotic device, enabling fully automated parts removal—picking, sorting, and placing at pre-defined locations.
     
  •  The Visualizing Option provides visual support for parts removal. Cut parts are labeled via projection or monitor. The user is able to see at a glance which parts belong to which job and can apply labels for continuous Track&Trace.

For more than ten years, EDP has been evaluating products and developments in the graphics industry for excellence and for commendation through an evaluation process involving the EDP technical committee, a jury of experts, and finally, a general award assembly of EDP members.

Source:

Zünd Systemtechnik AG

Zünd and Airborne Sign Distribution Agreement (c) Zünd Systemtechnik
Swiss cutting system manufacturer Zünd Systemtechnik and Dutch composite automation company Airborne have signed a distribution agreement.
26.01.2022

Zünd and Airborne Sign Distribution Agreement

Swiss cutting system manufacturer Zünd Systemtechnik and Dutch composite automation company Airborne have expanded their collaboration. As a result of a new distribution agreement, customers will be able to benefit from state-of-the-art digital production solutions for automated processing of composite materials. Zünd and Airborne will jointly promote these production solutions through their sales and servicing networks.

Both companies are technology leaders offering solutions for composites manufacturing and processing – Zünd develops and manufactures digital flatbed cutting systems capable of processing reinforced fiber materials such as CFRP or GRP. Airborne, based in Den Haag in the Netherlands, provides fully integrated automation solutions for efficient composites processing.
 
The goal of this partnership is to make it easier than ever for customers to access state-of-the-art digital cutting and automation solutions. In that endeavor, the competencies of both companies complement each other perfectly. Their combined expertise manifests itself especially in the areas of fully automated cutting, preforming, offloading and sorting.

Swiss cutting system manufacturer Zünd Systemtechnik and Dutch composite automation company Airborne have expanded their collaboration. As a result of a new distribution agreement, customers will be able to benefit from state-of-the-art digital production solutions for automated processing of composite materials. Zünd and Airborne will jointly promote these production solutions through their sales and servicing networks.

Both companies are technology leaders offering solutions for composites manufacturing and processing – Zünd develops and manufactures digital flatbed cutting systems capable of processing reinforced fiber materials such as CFRP or GRP. Airborne, based in Den Haag in the Netherlands, provides fully integrated automation solutions for efficient composites processing.
 
The goal of this partnership is to make it easier than ever for customers to access state-of-the-art digital cutting and automation solutions. In that endeavor, the competencies of both companies complement each other perfectly. Their combined expertise manifests itself especially in the areas of fully automated cutting, preforming, offloading and sorting.

Airborne’s automated kitting solutions reduce operating costs by maximizing material yield through optimized nesting. At the same time, they resolve the challenges inherent in sorting and grouping cut parts from complex nested layouts into laminate-ready kits with minimal operator intervention. Airborne offer a portfolio of solutions tailored to meet the individual needs of customers from affordable entry-level semi-automated products through to fully integrated and high productivity systems. All systems are "plug and play" and require no additional special programming. Airborne’s software generates the required robotics code directly from information derived from the nesting data and permits static or dynamic nesting and a sorting solution that adapts “on the fly”.

Zünd has been designing, manufacturing, and marketing digital cutting systems for more than 30 years. Zünd high-performance modular cutters are now in use all over the world. The Swiss family-owned company now in its second generation has established a global network of Zünd sales and service organizations under the leadership of Oliver Zünd. “This is a situation where two strong partners complement each other in much the same way as in strong partnerships we have established in other industries. It is a continuation of a long-standing company strategy. Airborne has excellent know-how in developing and manufacturing automated solutions for processing composites. Together we can offer our customers state-of-the-art technology and provide a technological answer to the growing demand for high-performance, innovative production systems in the composites market."

Joe Summers, Commercial Director for Airborne agrees: "Our partnership with Zünd brings a great deal of added value to our customers. Zünd shares our goal of creating greater cutting-room productivity. The Zünd cutter is key to converting materials with the greatest possible efficiency and maximum material usage."

Source:

Zünd Systemtechnik AG

19.01.2022

Zünd at JEC World 2022

  • Smart Workflows for Digital Cutting & Kitting

At JEC World 2022 in Paris, Zünd presents the latest developments in modular cutting solutions for composites. Known for its expertise in digital cutting and workflow integration.
As specialist in digital cutting for composites applications, Zünd demonstrates how data management, digital cutting, and downstream processes such as picking, sorting, and kitting, can be automated intelligently and based on specific needs.

In Industry 4.0 in general and processing composites in particular, an unencumbered flow of data is key to workflow efficiency. With Zünd PreCut Center, the user is well equipped to handle the challenges of demanding manufacturing processes. The software automatically optimizes contours and adjusts cut paths depending on the material and choice of tools. With the integrated nesting function, parts are laid out automatically for optimal material utilization. Considering the high cost of materials, maximum yield is essential for economical digital cutting.

  • Smart Workflows for Digital Cutting & Kitting

At JEC World 2022 in Paris, Zünd presents the latest developments in modular cutting solutions for composites. Known for its expertise in digital cutting and workflow integration.
As specialist in digital cutting for composites applications, Zünd demonstrates how data management, digital cutting, and downstream processes such as picking, sorting, and kitting, can be automated intelligently and based on specific needs.

In Industry 4.0 in general and processing composites in particular, an unencumbered flow of data is key to workflow efficiency. With Zünd PreCut Center, the user is well equipped to handle the challenges of demanding manufacturing processes. The software automatically optimizes contours and adjusts cut paths depending on the material and choice of tools. With the integrated nesting function, parts are laid out automatically for optimal material utilization. Considering the high cost of materials, maximum yield is essential for economical digital cutting.

With Pick&Place, Zünd presents a cost-effective solution for fully automated picking and kitting of cut parts. The Pick&Place interface enables direct communication with the robot via Zünd Cut Center – ZCC, the Zünd operating software and user interface. Pick&Place makes it possible to completely automate parts removal, kitting and placing. The necessary parameters are derived from the metadata supplied with the job order.

Source:

Zünd Systemtechnik AG

Folding / Plating (© 2021, Maag Brothers)
16.12.2021

Swiss Textile Machinery: Changes and opportunities through automation

For most textiles, finishing processes are not actually the last stage. Products often need an extra touch of expertise to make them perfectly ready for the customer. At this point in the value chain, that usually means manual tasks – but now there are technical solutions and intelligent systems which can handle complex operations better, while adding extra value and assured quality.
Automation brings reliability and efficiency, ultimately saving costs to produce the right quality every time. Swiss companies are specialized in many of these disciplines, with machinery for fabric inspection and presentation, labelling and tracking, folding and packaging. They have the technology to inspire a new vision at the post-production segment of the textile manufacturing processes. Optimization of workflows, with bottleneck management, is an obvious potential benefit. And it delivers measurable returns on investment. The wider picture with automation will prepare companies for the IoT and Industry 4.0.

For most textiles, finishing processes are not actually the last stage. Products often need an extra touch of expertise to make them perfectly ready for the customer. At this point in the value chain, that usually means manual tasks – but now there are technical solutions and intelligent systems which can handle complex operations better, while adding extra value and assured quality.
Automation brings reliability and efficiency, ultimately saving costs to produce the right quality every time. Swiss companies are specialized in many of these disciplines, with machinery for fabric inspection and presentation, labelling and tracking, folding and packaging. They have the technology to inspire a new vision at the post-production segment of the textile manufacturing processes. Optimization of workflows, with bottleneck management, is an obvious potential benefit. And it delivers measurable returns on investment. The wider picture with automation will prepare companies for the IoT and Industry 4.0.

New business models
The advantages of automation in mills with high-volume production are obvious: consistent quality, increased efficiency, waste reduction in some cases, as well as significant medium-term cost reductions in every case.
That description focuses on the aims of modern mills in low-cost markets. But producers in Europe and USA could reach out for more. For them, automation could be a game-changer, offering unique new opportunities.
Reshoring is a growing trend now. It shows great potential and is definitely driven by sustainability and changes in consumer mindsets. “We believe that the time is right – the machines and solutions certainly are – to push automation also to the very end of the production line, replacing intensive manual work and take the chance for reshoring. The current situation is kind of a transition time which is expected to last for a couple more years in the textile industry,” says Rueedi. He adds that any investments in these prime markets pay off much faster because of higher labour costs.
Innovation transformed through automation can do much more than simply replacing the nimble fingers of humans. It also enables new business models, guaranteeing prosperous future business, alongside greater job security.

Digital workflow and process control
The Swiss company Maag Brothers is a leading supplier of high-end machines for quality assurance in the final make-up processes, specifically fabric inspection, plating/folding, selvedge printing and packaging. Maag reports on a practical example from a mill in India which recognized the potential of automation.
An analysis at the customer’s mill identified the main goals as modernization of the workflow at quality control and packing processes. Maag’s new system covers tasks from fabric inspection to dispatch, and offers transparent and easily adjustable processes with real-time process control. It’s a digital solution, resulting in a slim organization, paperless, and the basis for further optimization towards Industry 4.0 to exploit its full potential. The customer’s own calculation showed a ROI for the installation at less than three years – along with a reduction in manpower and savings in fabric costs for shade samples.

Perfectly labelled, efficient data...
Smooth processes start with a label. Swiss company Norsel is an expert in grey fabric labelling systems, for piece tracking through all textile processes. High-quality label printing and proper sealing on all kind of fabrics ensure readability and sustainability after dyehouse processes such as mercerizing, high temperature dyeing and even hot calendering. No roll mix-up during dyeing, easy sorting of fabric rolls and rapid delivery make processes in the mill much more efficient. Using RFID codes lifts fabric inventory control to the highest level, with all information readily transferred to a database and integrated through any ERP software.
It’s a foolproof way to avoid the risk of human errors from hand-written notes on grey fabrics and article sheets, by opting for reliable, secure and forward-looking solutions.

Sample collections – the silent salesmen
First impressions count, so fabric producers like to present their collection perfectly – and that’s only possible with automated solutions. Swiss producer Polytex continuously refines its solutions, underlining its leading position in sample making equipment. Fully-automatic high-performance sample production lines are designed to satisfy the highest expectations. Fully-automatic lines or robotic machines set the standards for quality and performance. Even the most demanding clients can achieve their goals with impeccable samples, quickly and efficiently made, for flawless collections that are sure to impress.

Automation drives buying
First impressions are also the trigger for quick purchase decisions. The proof is there on every store shelf. Customers of Espritech are also well aware of it. They trust this Swiss producer of automated folding machinery to provide the final touch of class to home textiles and apparel products before they go on display. The folding systems are generally large mechatronic devices, loaded with latest technologies in mechanics, electronics, sensors and pneumatics. “Textile producers are amazed how folding machines solve the tricky task of reliably handling chaotically behaving materials. They see process optimization potential and the impact. We observe a slow but continuous change of mindset installing sophisticated technology even in the last steps of textile finishing,” says Philipp Rueedi, CFO at Espritech.

© Digital Capability Center
17.11.2021

Competence Centre WIRKsam - Shaping Work with AI

  •  14 million for the Rhenish coal region

Shaping economic change in the Rhenish textile and coal region together with artificial intelligence (AI) - this is the goal of the WIRKsam competence centre launched at the beginning of November. The joint project, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, is researching innovative forms of work to secure employment, create attractive jobs and strengthen regional companies.
 

With a focus on the strengths of the Rhenish mining area, WIRKsam is to establish itself as a central point of contact and align various scientific institutions and their research specifically to the challenges of the regional working world. Funded by the BMBF with 14 million euros over five years, the project is fundamentally about transferring scientific findings into company practice and into the wider society. After the funding phase, the centre of excellence will continue to work independently.

  •  14 million for the Rhenish coal region

Shaping economic change in the Rhenish textile and coal region together with artificial intelligence (AI) - this is the goal of the WIRKsam competence centre launched at the beginning of November. The joint project, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, is researching innovative forms of work to secure employment, create attractive jobs and strengthen regional companies.
 

With a focus on the strengths of the Rhenish mining area, WIRKsam is to establish itself as a central point of contact and align various scientific institutions and their research specifically to the challenges of the regional working world. Funded by the BMBF with 14 million euros over five years, the project is fundamentally about transferring scientific findings into company practice and into the wider society. After the funding phase, the centre of excellence will continue to work independently.

Prospects: Attractive jobs in the lignite mining region
The region on the left bank of the Rhine is not only a lignite mining area, but also a historically grown textile region where technical textiles are produced today, for example for medical technology or plant and vehicle construction. This offers valuable future prospects for the employees affected by the lignite phase-out.

Against this background, the aim of the WIRKsam centre of excellence is to research the extensive possibilities of artificial intelligence for shaping the future world of work and to transfer them to companies. AI applications are used to develop innovative work and process flows to create attractive workplaces and increase the competitiveness of local companies.

Together: business and science
The special feature: research institutions and companies from the Rhenish textile industry and related sectors work together in the centre of excellence. Research partners are the Institut für Textiltechnik (ITA) of RWTH Aachen University and the Institute for Mobile Autonomous Systems and Cognitive Robotics (MASCOR) of FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences, headed by ifaa - Institut für angewandte Arbeitswissenschaft e.V. (Institute for Applied Work Science).

Nine regional companies are involved so far; more will join. AI applications are being developed and exemplarily implemented for their respective needs. In this way, the diverse potentials of AI for work design are being tested and qualification requirements derived. These results will not only increase the global competitiveness of the textile industry and other sectors; they will also secure jobs and make an important contribution to overcoming structural change in the Rhenish lignite mining area.

WIRKsam is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the funding measure "Regional Competence Centres for Labour Research" and is supervised by the Karlsruhe Project Management Agency (PTKA) (funding code: 02L19C600). The WIRKsam competence centre will be based in Hürth, Germany, on the edge of the Rhenish mining area as soon as the conversion work on the former TV studios on the Euronova campus is completed.

More information:
AI
Source:

ITA – Institut für Textiltechnik of RWTH Aachen University

Hexcel and HP Composites Collaborate to Develop Class A Body Panels (c) Hexcel
2020-Alfa-Giulia-GTAm
29.09.2021

Hexcel and HP Composites Collaborate to Develop Class A Body Panels

Hexcel has collaborated with HP Composites S.p.A (HP Composites), a world leader in the production of carbon fiber components for automotive and motorsports, to develop carbon fiber Class A body panels. Hexcel HexPly® XF surfacing technology is being extensively used by the Italian component producer to manufacture external body panels and other components for supercars such as Alfa Romeo’s stunning new supersport sedans, the Giulia GTA, and GTAm.

With five production plants in Italy, HP Composites has built an impressive track record of high-performance composite successes on both road and racetrack. HP has combined this processing expertise with Hexcel HexPly® XF3 surfacing material, HexPly® M47, and HexPly® M49 prepregs, working to the highest standards set by the most prestigious supercar OEMs and leading motorsport teams.

Hexcel has collaborated with HP Composites S.p.A (HP Composites), a world leader in the production of carbon fiber components for automotive and motorsports, to develop carbon fiber Class A body panels. Hexcel HexPly® XF surfacing technology is being extensively used by the Italian component producer to manufacture external body panels and other components for supercars such as Alfa Romeo’s stunning new supersport sedans, the Giulia GTA, and GTAm.

With five production plants in Italy, HP Composites has built an impressive track record of high-performance composite successes on both road and racetrack. HP has combined this processing expertise with Hexcel HexPly® XF3 surfacing material, HexPly® M47, and HexPly® M49 prepregs, working to the highest standards set by the most prestigious supercar OEMs and leading motorsport teams.

Hexcel’s automotive composites portfolio is the result of decades of industry experience and the creation of strategic partnerships to develop and optimize leading-edge technologies. HexPly XF3 is an epoxy prepreg surface material, developed with processing input from the HP Composites team to address the challenges of producing high-quality Class A automotive body panel surfaces with excellent resistance to aging tests.

Applied as the first ply in the mold and after curing at 120-180˚C in an autoclave, HexPly XF3 produces a smooth part surface with no porosity, that requires minimal preparation for painting.

HexPly XF3 is supplied in an easy-to-handle roll format with good tack and drapability. After curing, it can be easily prepared for painting with a rapid sanding process. HP Composites has incorporated automated robotic sanding techniques for this finishing stage with the paint-ready HexPly XF3 surface providing excellent paint adhesion according to EN ISO 2409.

HP Composites typically uses autoclave processing for HexPly XF3 parts, maximizing weight savings and structural performance of the final components. In addition, HP has also developed its own proprietary press and compression molding processes, including Air Press Moulding® technology, compatible with HexPly XF3 and other HexPly prepregs for higher volume production series that require increased production rates.

“Our long-term experience has given us a detailed understanding of the critical features that influence how prepregs and surfacing technologies interact with different production processes,” said Abramo Levato, General Manager, HP Composites S.p.A. “The relationship we have with Hexcel is both highly technical and highly supportive. As a result we have a complete material package for high-quality Class A body panels that are formulated specifically with our requirements in mind.”

“Combining the expertise of HP with a strong technical interaction and collaborative dialogue, Hexcel and HP were together able to develop the optimum HexPly XF surfacing technology,” said Claude Despierres, VP Sales and Marketing, Hexcel. “With HexPly XF3 we satisfy the toughest industry standards.”