Europe's approach to multidisciplinary research involving collaboration among and between industrial and research partners is gaining acceptance in other countries.
In the Commerzbank report Technical Textiles, analyst Jürgen Grebe highlighted the strong ties between fundamental scientific research and industry as a major contributor to the success of the European, in particular the German, industry In this context, it is therefore worth noting a number of recent announcements.
The rationale behind the first of these, the establishment of the Research Centre for High-Performance Fibres, Structures and Textile Machine Development (HP Fibre Structures) in Dresden, is readily understood in terms of an extension of this European tradition. However, the nature of the five institutes involved (which combined specialize in research into textile machinery, polymers, ceramics, composites, textiles, materials design, lightweight engineering, sensors and actuators, bionics and additive manufacturing) also serves to illustrate the multidisciplinary approach required to succeed (as well as the breadth of the potential for technical textiles).
The Dream2Lab2Fab facility at the Technical Textiles Institute (ITA) of RWTH Aachen University in Germany will focus on the as yet widely unrealized potential of smart textiles, as well as the possibilities offered by automating textile production technology. In this case, the multidisciplinary skills needed have resulted in an international collaboration between ITA and the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (Kitech) in Cheonan. A corresponding centre is to be set-up in South Korea next year, showing that others now see the value of the European approach to collaboration.
In a further example, a research centre has been founded at Deakin University, Australia, with the support of government funds and contributions from industrial partners. Similarly, albeit on a far greater scale, the Advanced Functional Fibers of America (AFFOA) Institute was established with funding from the federal government (which will contribute US$75 million over the first five years) and industry (which has pledged US$242 million).
From the perspective of the US industry, therefore, it is to be hoped that the incoming Trump Administration recognizes the potential of AFFOA, but we must wait and see because the Republican Party, in a very powerful position following November’s elections, has repeatedly indicated its objections to the programme behind the institute. In any case, technical-textiles.net is here to keep you informed of developments.