SCI-TECH & AGRI

Clothes designed by computers

RESEARCHERS HAVE successfully transferred the entire development cycle of manufacturing clothes — from the type and mixture of fibres used, their shape and size to the structures they form in the fabric — onto computers thereby enabling a whole sector of industry to benefit from the use of sophisticated mathematical methods.

Consumers want to buy high-quality products, and manufacturers want efficient, economical production processes. They expect kitchen clothes to be highly absorbent, babies' diapers to get thinner and filters to absorb the tiniest particles or droplets.

Experts in the textile industry say this all depends on the ideal combination of fibre, their shape and size and the structure they formed in the fabric — which took months of painstaking experimental research and tests, a report in Fraunhofer Gesellschaft said.

However, all this was changed after Franz-Josef Pfreundt of the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM developed the new technology.

The new technology is based on the simulation of flow behaviour in highly complex geometries, such as those found in foams or fibrous materials, on a microscopic and macroscopic scale.

"The first step was to record computer tomography images of existing materials," Konrad Steiner, a specialist in developing fluid dynamics software for the European space industry, said.

"We used their geometrical structures to develop a set of typical 3D structural models.

By applying various, highly sophisticated fluid dynamics computations, we then obtained the flow in each material," he said.

This data, in turn, was used as input for special product simulation software.

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