Techtera, the innovation cluster for textiles and flexible materials in the Rhône-Alpes region, is focused on exploiting innovation, alliances and network connections in the European textile industry. According to Jean-Charles Potelle, Techtera president, “Our objective is double: to make Techtera the European leader for collaborative R&D in the textile sector. To make our economic sector and our member companies Europe’s leaders for next-generation textiles.”
The strategy of Techtera for 2008–2012 follows three main guidelines:
- The control of upstream channels (in the production line), through innovation on raw materials and the development of international projects with major spinning companies, especially with Japan.
- A focus on textile multifunctionality, by innovating on technologies and processes and developing standards as a support for innovation.
- The development of hybrid textile and flexible technological materials, especially through 3D textiles and composites.
Ready for takeoff
The latest Techtera R&D projects selected form part of the 13th call for projects from the FUI, the French government fund dedicated to clusters. The work for the BALLOO, FOMOTEX, HUMEVERE, MultiMaFs and REPTILES projects (see below) will begin by the end of the year. Introductory meetings for each project are being scheduled. These are orchestrated by OSEO, “The enterprise for entrepreneurs”; first to organize file management, including distribution and funding agreements; and second, to initiate the technical launch of the projects.
BALLOO (light aircraft fuel tank, crashworthy and ballistic-impact resistant). The aim of this project is to design a soft fuel tank based on 3D textile preforms for aircraft (civil and military planes, helicopters, gliders, etc). This will be more effective in meeting standards requirements with regard to crashes or ballistic impact.
FOMOTEX (an innovative dry-impregnation process to endow coatings, textile underlayers and foam with improved barrier properties). The aim of this project is to develop new types of nonflammable latex-free textile underlayers with multifunctional characteristics and comply with current regulations.
HUMEVERE functional vegetable oils for green formulation of polymers). The aim of this project is to substitute vegetable oil for fossil oils in the formulation of polymeric materials while retaining their technical and economic performance. Three types of oils will be developed: plasticizers for PVC used in technical textiles, plasticizers for elastomers based on polyolefin and elastomeric cross-linking agents.
MultiMaFs (multifunctional materials for placing dry fiber). The aim of this project is to develop materials that improve the electrical conductivity and mechanical strength of carbon-fiber-based composites used in aircraft, to increase their resistance to harmful electrical effects (lightning, current load, electromagnetic fields).
(new life for buried drinking-water pipes). The aim of this project is to develop a robotic method for rehabilitating buried water mains from the interior, using a new type of pre-impregnated textile reinforcement with a thermoplastic matrix.
The 39 firms and laboratories involved in these projects will start their work at the end of the year. In 2011, 20 new collaborative R&D projects were supported by Techtera. The total number of projects now reaches more than one hundred, with more than 300 companies, laboratories or training structures benefitting from the support.