Researching tomorrow’s innovative textiles
June 10, 2012 Editor 0
Around 200 textile research professionals met at the end of May in St Gallen at the international Fiber Society Spring Conference to keep abreast of current trends in research and development in this field. The host organization was Empa, where intensive work is being carried out on fiber and textile innovations. Fiber developments for medical applications: illuminated textiles for the photodynamic treatment of tumors. Although textiles have a tradition extending back thousands of years into antiquity, there still remains room for innovation today, and the aim of this year’s Fiber Society conference was to sound out the opportunities on offer in this regard. The society was founded in 1941 to encourage and support scientific progress in the field of fibers and fiber products, and the conference motto, “Fiber Research for Tomorrow’s Applications”, was therefore entirely appropriate. The aim is to emphasize the message that “Textiles have an unbroken potential,” as Rudolf Hufenus, of Empa’s Advanced Fibers Laboratory and one of the conference organizers, put it in his welcoming address. Innovation in this field generally takes place as a result of partnerships between groups drawn from various scientific disciplines. Just as important is the intensive cooperation between research institutes and industry, in Hufenus’ opinion. The Fiber Society Spring Conference, which took place from the 23rd to 25th of May, represented the ideal platform for the exchange of ideas and know-how necessary to initiate and plan collaborative projects. The conference was held at Empa’s St Gallen site, which has traditionally been heavily involved in innovative work in the textile field. There was enormous interest in the event, and the organizers received about twice as many suggestions for expert presentations as they were able to consider. Altogether over 200 scientists from 20 countries attended the event. “The conference deals with the practical applications of today’s fiber research,” explained Hufenus, whose own work involves developing novel fibers with his team. One such example is a fiber for making protective jackets which, although acting like armor to shield the wearer from heavy blows, is still pliant and supple so that the jacket is comfortable to wear.
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