Focus on Rapid Textile Prototyping and Solution Spinning

Focus on Solution Spinning and Rapid Textile Prototyping

The recently inaugurated Centre for high Performance Fibre Materials (CFM) expands its scientific infrastructure of high performance fibre materials and their processing by accelerating the technology transfer between scientific research and industrial development. The model approach facilitates the strengthening of SME and their competitiveness

Traditionally, North-Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) has been central to the development of new polymer materials within the chemical sector. The plastic industry has a leading position in the field of materials and composites in the automotive sector. The textile industry of is considered a global pioneer in developing application-specific and customised Technical Textiles. NRW is also the location for many technology-oriented start-up companies. The characteristic structure of medium-sized companies and highly specialised businesses depend on the interdisciplinary management of complex material and process innovations and on basic research support. With this support such companies offer their core capabilities in the high-tech region such as German NRW.

Thus it comes natural that application-oriented research institutions such as the RWTH Aachen University in the field of materials based innovation take a prominent role. The collaboration with RWTH Aachen University offers an outstanding platform for such SME to prevail on national and international level.

CFM, affiliated to the Institute of Textile Technology (ITA) of the RWTH Aachen University is destined to close existing gaps in innovation. For the time being the focus is on the Production of high strength synthetic and functional fibres, for instance Solution spinning, another are new ways of Textile Rapid Prototyping and up-scaling laboratory processes of basic research for industrial production standards. We have reported already detailed on these activities (see Newsletter of Dec. 4, 2012) at the occasion of the inauguration of CFM.


The example of Solution Spinning in details

Solution spinning is available only at a limited number of German and global research institutes. Definitely unique is the combination of different scales concentrated in one technical centre. At CFM/ITA process and product development starts with minor batches as small as 50 ml. With a heated, highly precise piston pump (Teledyne Isco; Lincoln, NE/USA) mono- and multi-filaments can be produced.  

The next larger scale is a self built spinning unit that is comparable to industrial processes. Amounts of up to 1 l can be transferred into the fibre form. With up to 8 l of spinning solution represents the next larger unit, built by Fourné Polymertechnik (Alfter, Germany) and is giving way to use the spun fibres in post processing, like textile production or thermal conversion to carbon fibres.

Besides multi-filaments, also hollow fibres for water filtration applications can be produced with this unit.

Figure 1 Solution spinning unit

The largest scale of solution spinning units available at CFM is a continuous spinning line, manufactured by EPC Industrial Engineering (Rudolstadt, Germany) and Truetzschler Nonwovens & Man-Made Fibres (Egelsbach, Germany). This unit facilitates the direct upscale (transfer) into the industrial process. The unit is especially designed for producing carbon fibre precursors based on polyacrylonitrile and has been developed and designed within a NRW state funded “Ziel2” (target two) project “MegaCarbon”.

The new ways of Textile Rapid Prototyping

AT CFM the sample warping machine, including 16 spools (GOM-16-S), manufactured by Karl Mayer (Obertshausen, Germany) is closing the gap between yarn and tissue production. The machine is capable to produce warps with a maximum length of 490 m and different kind of materials can be used in the process. It offers the potential to guarantee the entire process chain from granulate to tissue. Consequently, the sample warping machine is an ideal supplement to the already established and practiced method of Textile Rapid Prototyping.

Figure 2 Warpingmachine

TextileFuture thanks Achim Hehl, Christian Wilms, Jacqueline Lemm, Gunnar Seide, Thomas Gries from ITA for their valuable contributions for this feature.

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