Inno-Kom-Ost MF 160086

With the technology development for the production of media-impermeable coated spacer fabrics, which show a defined change in their shape at constant volume by means of pressurisation, it is possible for the first time to produce lightweight, flexible as well as individual semi-finished products. Within the scope of the project work, material- and mesh-elastic spacer fabrics have been developed and coated with conventional coating technologies. A specially developed sealing technology allows the production of individual semi-finished products for a wide range of applications. These semi-finished products are used as actuators in end products such as seating and bed systems, impact protection, gripper functions and even in artificial hands.

The aim of the research project was to develop lightweight textile semi-finished products that allow a defined change in their shape at constant volume by means of pressurisation, and to develop a technology for their production. The basis for this is a textile fabric made of specially constructed spacer fabric with different stretching concepts. To realise the function of changing the shape of the spacer structures, an adapted highly elastic coating is necessary on both sides, which at the same time represents a low permeability for air.
Application-related investigations were necessary in order to obtain reliable statements both with regard to the basic textile structure itself and to the development of a stretchable airimpermeable and persistently adhesive outer shell.

Using double raschel technology, mesh-elastic spacer structures made of polyester multifilament thread materials have been developed, which have different stretching properties due to different mesh structures and thus a targeted deformation. Using elastane thread materials, material-elastic spacer structures are constructed with a very elastic and a
less elastic side. To realise the change in shape function of the constructed spacer structures, a highly elastic coating is required on both sides, which at the same time has a low permeability for air. For this purpose, coating matrices based on silicones, polyurethanes and poly-sulphides have been investigated. Ultimately, the silicone-based coating proved to be the most suitable for ensuring the necessary elasticity and flexibility. For the production of textile semi-finished products with the function of shape change, an air-impermeable edge-band design is necessary. For this purpose, a coating process has been developed that enables a tight seal without the use of previously necessary subframes.

Results and Applications

Semi-finished textile products have been developed which change shape directionally while maintaining a constant volume. Previously used systems are based on a simultaneous change of shape and volume of the structures and thus require a considerably higher air volume. These lightweight, flexible semi-finished products can be used in a wide variety of applications. For example, they can be used as pneumatic textile actuators in the automotive industry, ranging from

  • self-installing and stabilising convertible tops that take up very little space when stowed,
  • interactive spoilers that adjust their shape according to speed,
  • interactive impact protection on and in vehicles (side impact protection, pedestrian protection, interactive side trim, interactive spoilers with integrated impact protection, ...)
  • to vehicle sports seats with active lateral support that increases in curves.

Fig. 1: Functional sample of a pneumatic spacer fabricFig. 1: Functional sample of a pneumatic spacer fabric

Interactive protectors for motorcyclists, skiers and athletes can be classified as leisure sports and concern sports article manufacturers as well as protective textiles for the workplace. Quickly self-installing tents, life rafts that can be set up in seconds in case of emergency and disaster (earthquakes etc.) concern the most diverse areas of protective textiles. If companies are interested, further solutions for individual requirements and areas of application will be offered in follow-up projects.

Dr. Yvonne Zimmermann
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