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First multi-scale system in the field of high-performance fibres

News International-French

22 Sep 2014

ITA has established the first multi-scale system for the production of precursors and carbon fibres to enable small and medium sized companies to enter the growing carbon market.

NRW Minister of Science Ms Svenja Schulze opened the 80-year anniversary of the Institut für Textiltechnik (ITA) of RWTH Aachen University with over 350 guests. Close industry collaborations and excellent research has awarded ITA with recognition far beyond Germany's borders. ITA has established the first multi-scale system for the production of precursors and carbon fibres to enable small and medium sized companies to enter the growing carbon market.

The state of North Rhine-Westphalia has supported ITA with seven million euros. Minister Svenja Schulze emphasized the importance of this invested money: “Due to ITA’s work over the past 80 years NRW has a strong textile industry today. Through new material technologies ITA establishes an important link to the practical implementation. Textile technologies are powerful sources of innovation, explained the Minister. “Progress and innovation will be noticeable for the people through efficient energy and resource use, lighter cars, firmer buildings or medical research innovations.”

17% cost reduction in the production of carbon fibre
A new, environmentally friendly process management allows 17% cost savings in the production of carbon fibres. This new development can have far reaching consequences for projects such as the manufacturing of BMW i3 or i8 or also other applications in the aerospace industry.

In the field of novel reinforcement structures for fibre composites ITA is a leader in the application of the Open Reed Weaving (ORW) Technology of the Lindauer Dornier GmbH, Lindau, for the novel reinforcement structures in fibre composites. ITA has also the first carbon-compatible machine for this innovative weaving technology. With the help of the ORW technology, multiaxial fabrics with up to four load directions as well as locally reinforced fabrics for cost savings can be produced as preforms.

This development will allow production of tailor-made reinforcement textiles with adapted load paths. This approach will be particularly attractive for the mass production due to reduction in expensive blends and avoidance of unnecessary process steps. Currently ITA focuses on the examination of the mechanical potential and developments concerning the implementation of different reinforcement structures.

ITA addresses technological and social megatrends
ITA addresses global technological challenges and social megatrends such as secure and sustainable energy supply through the production of wings for wind turbines; health in the aging society (e.g. ambient assisted living) among others through textile-based, wearable electrodes that monitor the body which makes life easier at work or at home; designs of urban habitats through textile concrete facades which minimize the CO2 emission; mobility through the use of lightweight fabrics made out of carbon fibres for the car production to reduce the energy demand; networked production and resource efficiency for example through matched production processes and machines, as well as a continuing professional qualification.

Worldwide unique professorship AME / ITA
In addition, ITA provides a direct link between the fields of medicine and textile through a unique professorship, of heart surgeon Prof Stefan Jockenhövel, between ITA and the Institute for Applied Medical Technology AME. Prof Jockenhövel’s research focus at ITA is broad: From pellets to implants - research and development for textile-based implants. In the field of tissue engineering he explores the use of implants made of textiles and the body’s own cells. These implants become a living, adaptive implant through the use of autologous cells; therefore they offer many advantages in terms of compatibility and durability in comparison to other conventional implants.

A contribution to success: on September 19, the young talent prize “Medical Textiles” has been awarded for the first time by friends and sponsors of ITA e.V.

The award, donated by the FEG Textile Technology, goes to the student Klas-Moritz Kossel with the best thesis written at ITA. This initiative supports not only the young researchers in the subject area but also expands the exchange to the alumni and the corporate representatives in the circle of friends and sponsors.

The recipe for success: excellent research and global partnerships
With a high level of expertise in basic research, within field of high-performance fibres/carbon fibres and the related process chain, ITA has gained a place among the top 5 institutes of -RWTH Aachen University. Since more than ten years the 3T GmbH is a reliable partner as a link between industry and the industrial projects of the ITA.

A third larger Thanin2009
Five years after moving into the INNOTEX institute building, ITA presents itself with approximately 300 employees, which is about a third larger than in 2009. The world's strongly increased demand for the industry of innovative lightweight textile materialscontributed to set Germany as total world market leader in the field of technical textiles (Source: Zitex Industry report) which has directly influenced the growth of ITA altogether.

”We are proud that we were able to have doubled the number of our doctoral students since 2009 and that we have multiplied our international activities”, explained the institute’s director Prof Thomas Gries. "With a scientific staff of about 100 employees today, we manage to meet requirements of the industry and the German research. In addition ITA is shaped by international projects and partnerships – in Asia (Japan, Korea, India), Turkey, Europe and North America. For example, at the Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia is a technical plant installed which is directly connected to scaling up of our value chain.”

Further guests of honour, such as the Chairman of the Forschungskuratorium Textil (FKT) and the General Manager of SGL Kümpers GmbH, Franz-Jürgen Kümpers, the General Manager of FKT Dr Klaus Jansen and Harald Cremer the General Manager of the Forum NanoMicro Materials NRW, as well as the Vice-Director Prof Doris Klee, were impressed by the number of doctoral candidates, the locations and machines which have grown considerably under the direction of Prof Thomas Gries, Head of ITA since April 2001.

The 80th anniversary guests congratulated Prof Gries and his staff for this great success and wished the team good luck and success for the future.

Picture: NRW Minister of Science Ms Svenja Schulze celebrates with honoured guests (in the middle of the picture, blue costume, source: ITA)