Fraunhofer IZM and Weißensee Academy of Art open innovation lab for prototyping textile electronics


Fraunhofer IZM and the Weißensee Academy of Art in Berlin have opened a unique open innovation lab for prototyping textile electronics. Fitted with the latest in high-tech equipment and machines, the Textile Prototyping Lab (TPL) can turn e-textile visions into real fabrics and garments with its interdisciplinary team of scientists and artists.

The Textile Prototyping Lab formally opened at Fraunhofer IZM in Berlin on 29 September. The fabrics of the future will be electronic, as these two worlds, so far apart and unrelated at first sight, turn out to form the perfect symbiosis for many unexpected uses. The eponymous collaboration project was introduced in 2017 with the Weißensee Academy of Art, Fraunhofer IZM, and other project partners and has already produced many creative and futuristic high-tech textiles. From garments with built-in sensors to stretchable design objects or intelligent industrial fabrics, there is much to be discovered for all lovers of fashion and high-tech enthusiasts.

The launch of the TPL represents the next major step for the team behind the initiative: They plan to use the cutting-edge facilities to explore new aspects and technologies for prototyping textile electronics and smart textiles and to immediately try out their ideas in the true spirit of open innovation.

Visitors from research, industry, and public administration as well as financial supporters and representatives from fashion and textile start-ups were present for the launch. The event gave them a unique opportunity to discover the modular lab and technical facilities, with highlights including a live demonstration of the advanced embroidering machines, cutter plotters, laminators, and a special 3D printer. All visitors could get their own designs and logos printed as a memento of the TPL’s launch.

Resources are there to be shared: The TPL’s motto could be felt in action right from its inception, as the opening of the new facilities was accompanied by an exhibition of interactive e-textile and smart textile samples, created in the joint project work and here showcased for the first time by the proud members of the TPL team.

As the crucible where the technological expertise of the Fraunhofer IZM researchers and the aesthetic visions of artists and designers come together, the TPL will be a hotbed for sharing knowhow and expertise across the divide between science and art and for co-creating e-textiles with a keen sense for modern designs.

Caption: Textile electronics at your fingertips: At the opening of the Textile Prototyping Lab, the new devices could be tested live (photo: Fraunhofer IZM)

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