The project ”Chromosonic” wins the first prize at the Innovation Awards 2015, in category “Material innovation”. A Hungarian student visualizes acoustic, when producing electrical voltage with sound waves, so that the material reacts then optically. Photo © Judit Esyter Karpati, Moholy-Nagi University of Art and Design, Budapest.
A stitch in time
by Franziska Eidner
Apr 23, 2015

Each year, German companies post sales in the region of 13 billion euros with the production of so-called technical textiles – making Germany the world market leader in the industry. 376 manufacturers have established themselves in this sector at present, with an ever increasing number of cloth makers aspiring to be technical buffs who develop and produce innovative fabrics and fibers for the automotive industry, the health sector or the construction industry. An example: The first-ever textile-reinforced concrete to gain official approval was made by the subsidiary of a traditional family-run textile company, V. Fraas GmbH, which up until then had been producing mainly scarves and woolly hats.

Mind you, the fare of cutting-edge produce that has been rounded up for this year’s Techtextil in Frankfurt/Main even makes textile-reinforced concrete appear to be somewhat “old hat”. More than 1,350 exhibitors from 48 countries will be showcasing their latest innovations and research projects in Halls 3.0, 3.1, 4.1 and 6.1 at Frankfurt’s trade-fair grounds. This year’s textile exhibition (it attracted some 27,000 visitors in 2013) is already the 16th of its kind to be hosted in Frankfurt.

Not everything on show is of relevance to architects and designers; however, the 12 application areas, each of which has been designated its own hall, all boasts quite a few items that don’t just sound like science fiction and already offer innovative potential for buildings, surfaces and design.

“Buildtech” subsumes all those companies making textile applications for the construction industry. 517 exhibitors will be presenting their products here – from printable textile façades and lightweight textile-reinforced concrete through innovative solutions for membrane structures to special fabrics that have the ability to render impressive 3D effects in combination with light. Also nonwovens are on display here: Combined with stainless steel wire sensors they enable monitoring moisture levels and possible damp even in parts of buildings that are difficult to access.

Indoor applications are to be found under the “Hometech” label at Techtextil – 472 exhibitors have registered with their products in this section. To facilitate navigation of individual application areas the trade-fair organizers have come up with 12 pictograms designed to provide orientation to visitors.

In addition to individual presentations by companies and research institutes (16 institutes are devoted to researching textiles, fibers and wovens in Germany alone) booth C47 in Hall 6.1 features a special exhibition destined to draw visitor attention to product ideas of outstanding innovation. The exhibition prize – the “Techtextil Innovation Award” – will be presented on May 4 at 10 a.m. in Hall 4.2. in “Room Dimension”.

“Room Dimension” (4.2) is also set to host the Techtextil Symposium (subject to a charge). The various lectures by experts will be highly specialized – with presentations on “Tailor-made adhesion layers for textile-reinforced concrete” (May 4, 3 p.m.) and “Printing of conductive structures on textiles” (May 4, 4 p.m.) and the “Spacetex” research project (May 5, 1 p.m.), which is currently testing new functional garments in outer space and for which the Hohenstein Institute of Textile Innovation has just launched a student design contest. One of the competition entries will be on show at the booth of the company.

The special show “Textile Structures for New Building” and the “Innovation Apparel Show” look set to unravel a considerably broader spectrum of innovative concepts for fabrics, designs and applications of the future, developed by students and universities the world over. In Hall 4.1, H41 the special show will present the results of an international student competition the trade-fair co-hosted with the international Tensinet association under the direction of Werner Sobek.

In conjunction with the “Innovation Apparel Show” a special exhibition in Hall 6.1 and on the catwalk (shown at different times each day) will present the creations of four universities and fashion schools in Germany and Switzerland, combining innovative materials and cutting-edge processing technologies into exclusive developments for the trade fair.

Those keen to find out more about manufacturing techniques and production processes in the textile industry can use their Techtextil admission ticket to visit “Tech Process” in Halls 4.0, 5.0, 5.1 and 6.0 – admission is included.

Find about more about Techtextil

“Fabric makes home“:
Membrane constructions give a new sense of lightness to architecture.

“The construction material of the future”:
Fibre-based construction materials replace classic materials like steel.

“A new architectural skin“:
Architecture has rediscovered the possibilities of textiles.

“Fresh from the textile lab”:
A tour of the experimentation into textile construction.

View into the inside of textile concrete: Beyond the façade cladding a tight structure of glass-fibre-fabrics is hidden. Photo © Solidian GmbH
Four universities for fashion and design will present their designs at during all days of the Techtextil and Texprocess. They are developed with modern processing technology.
Photo © Westsächsischen Hochschule Zwickau, Fakultät Angewandte Kunst Schneeberg, Franz Grünewald
The manufacturer Ettlin will present intelligent textiles with integrated micro electroninic at the booth B 17 of Forster Rohner Textile Innnovations in hall 6.1. Photo © Ettlin AG
Representing textile high-tech materials, Ettlin will show the light technical special texture “Ettlin lux”. When lighted by LEDs, it produces three-dimensional light structures.
Photo © Ettlin AG
The artist and fotographer Deidi von Schaewen will show her works in the exhibition “Textiled Spaces”. Photo © Deidi von Schaewen
The artist Schaewen travelled in around the world and took photos of textile covered objects in an architectural context. Photo © Deidi von Schaewen
Schaewen shows her works also in fotobooks of the publishers Taschen, Mitchell Beazley or Flammarion. Photo © Deidi von Schaewen