Textile researchers have been successful in producing very fine fibers from environmentally friendly and sustainable raw material cellulose as continuous filament. This breakthrough, which was supported by the Foundation of Baden-Wurttemberg and was carried out at the Institute of Textile Chemistry and Chemical Fibers (ITCF) in Denkendorf, Germany, opens up completely new possibilities. The Technologie-Lizenz-Buero (TLB) GmbH manages the patenting and commercialisation of the invention. Manufacturers of hygiene products, textiles and filters are now being invited to become partners involved in the evaluation which will allow them to become licensees.
The direct-spin process developed at the German research institute produces fibers with a fineness of 0.1 dtex. These are the first supermicro fibers which are not just produced in the form of short fragments but rather as long continuous filament which can be stored on a spool or as staple fabric. The continuous, superfine fiber can then be further processed by weaving or knitting technology into a broad range of products.
Due to the fineness of the fibers, their relative surface is about 10 times greater than traditional cellulose fibers of fineness of 1.7 dtex. This explains the improved filtering, absorption and thermal isolation characteristics of materials which are manufactured with supermicro fibers. Woven and knitted materials using these new fibers also show an extremely fine structure with minute spaces between fibers the likes of which could hitherto not be manufactured. This novel material characteristic could be of interest for special applications and could lead to novel products. Product improvements in the field of filters as well as health and medical products (hygiene articles, wound treatment and tampons) are also likely.
TLB is now seeking industry partners to participate in evaluation
The currently active project at the Textile Institute in Denkendorf produces a range of cellulose fiber types which are available for testing and evaluation by potential users. This service is available to businesses thanks to the investment into the project by the Foundation Baden-Wuerttemberg.
„Our hope and vision is not only to see existing products improved but the development of completely new products based on these new fibers. We are seeking businesses active in textile, filter and medical technologies, which would like to obtain test materials for their own evaluation“, says Dr. Iris Kraeuter, who as Innovation Manager leads the patent management and commercialisation of the invention on behalf of TLB. Interested businesses should contact Dr. Kaeuter directly (Tel. +49 721 790040 or ikraeuter(at)tlb.de ).
The ITCF is available to assist enterprises interested in evaluating the novel fiber technology for specific concrete applications with its know-how and expertise. Dr Frank Hermanutz, a researcher at the ITCF and inventor of this technology, comments as follows: „The Institute in Denkendorf is one of the largest textile research centers and as such has all possible manufacturing, testing and characterization technologies for cellulose fibers available. We are not only able to produce the finest fibers but we can also optimize their characteristics to meet the specific requirements of a manufacturer. It remains to be seen to what extent the various fibers can be produced on a commercial scale, since apart from the technical characteristics economic considerations also become crucial.
Security through patent protection
To ensure that the investments by all parties are on solid ground, Dr. Kraeuter has developed an extensive patenting strategy. Patent applications cover the process for the manufacture of the supermicro fibers as well as the actual product. Companies that are interested in the commercial use of the production process are invited to contact Dr. Kraeuter for further information.
TLB acts as the expert in patenting and commercialisation of inventions on behalf of the Foundation Baden-Wurttemberg, which holds the rights to the invention. The Foundation has invested in the research and development of the cellulose fiber and now also supports the evaluation and commercialisation. Rudi Beer, head of the section Research of the Foundation Baden-Wurttemberg, is looking after the cellulose project. He comments: „We invest in promising inventions and want to create value in collaboration with industry. TLB is our experienced and long-term partner who assists us competently in our goals.”
Contact person for all questions regarding patenting and commercialisation of the invention is the TLB-Innovation Manager Dr. Iris Kraeuter, Tel. +49 721 790040, E-Mail ikraeuter(at)tlb.de.