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Industry Talk

New Augsburg centre addresses the value chain

Expanding core competencies in applied research and knowledge transfer with a focus on circularity.

4th July 2022

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Augsburg. Germany

Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

Together with partners from industry, Augsburg University of Applied Sciences and the Augsburg Institute of Textile Technology (ITA) have opened the Recycling Atelier as the first model factory dedicated to the research and development of sustainable material cycles along the entire textile production chain.

“By 2025, the EU is calling for the sustainable use of textiles but the industry is far from achieving this,” said Professor Stefan Schlichter, head of ITA Augsburg. “In the Recycling Atelier we are researching technical and ecological meaningfulness as well as economic benefit. If this balance is restored, then a revival of the regional and national textile value chain can be expected through new textile recycling. This is a great opportunity for the local textile industry.”

“With the Recycling Atelier, we are further expanding our core competencies in applied research and knowledge transfer,” added Nadine Warkotsch, president for research and sustainability at Augsburg University of Applied Sciences. “It offers us the opportunity to work with our scientists on a highly topical issue of our time – the value chain in the textile sector – as well as production and automation.”

The scientists are conducting research on all process steps of textile recycling, from material analysis, sorting, preparation and processing to product design. They are initially operating the processes on a model scale with a focus on realistic production, before scaling up to industrial production.

The Recycling Atelier focuses on the development of new products and processes for textile secondary raw materials and the development of concepts for the complete recycling of used textiles with the best possible quality, both through integrated and high-quality recycling and cycle-oriented product design. The results will ultimately lead to the industrial application of recycling concepts and build the bridge to current business models.

At every step of the process, companies from the entire value chain support the research and contribute their industrial perspective and expertise. In a large workshop area, the Recycling Atelier provides the opportunity to put the products of companies to the test and develop new concepts for sustainable textile production in direct exchanges.

One focus is on digitalization – new production processes are to be made possible through high-quality and modern collection, processing and evaluation of data, enabling the use of artificial intelligence in the field of machine learning and neural networks for the textile industry.

ITA scientists are working, for example, on a machine solution for sorting the used fabrics. Today, this is done almost 100% by hand. In the Recycling Atelier, the use of modern sensor technology, robotics and artificial intelligence is being tested.

“The national textile industry must not close its eyes to the current challenges in the field of digitalization and artificial intelligence,” said Schlichter. “That is why the Recycling Atelier will make a significant contribution to the innovative strength of the industry.”

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