Technical textiles made of high-performance fibers are currently being rediscovered as reinforcing materials for structural elements subject to high stress. Here carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics will be particularly prominent in the materials of the future. Experts expect the automotive branch to be the largest driver and thus the principle future market for carbon fibers. However, current use is still dominated by prepregs (pre-impregnated fibers), so that the predicted "Automotive" growth scenario will only come to pass if the cost of carbon-fiber-reinforced components drops significantly and the potentials for cost savings are leveraged to the greatest extent possible.
Since these savings potentials are primarily found in use of materials and in the component manufacturing process, it will only be possible to realize these tangible ecological and economic effects as forecast in large-scale industrial series manufacturing of this type of component. This makes it absolutely necessary to develop new textile machines as a central unit in new manufacturing processes for semi-finished textile products and preforms, also with regard to intelligent hybrid components in multi-material design.
In this context the Fraunhofer Institutes have formed the Technical Textiles Alliance. By consolidating the individual areas of expertise of the member institutes, they intend to represent the entire textile value creation chain, from the textile machine to fiber production, manufacture of preforms/semi-finished products, textile functionalization, Smart Textiles, process and product simulation, sustainability – life cycle assessment and recycling, all the way to fiber-reinforced composite components.