DE_PUNT – DEVELOPMENT OF HIGH-PERFORMANCE TEXTILE SOLUTIONS WITH APPLICATIONS IN THE FURNITURE AND TRANSPORT SECTORS
Textiles are everywhere in the transport and furniture industries, offering an infinite variety of fabrics from which you can find the one that best suits a particular style or need. The materials will determine to a great extent, not only their aesthetic appearance but also their durability. Nowadays, there is a wide range of textiles available, ranging from natural to synthetic fibres, and any combination of each.
Textiles used in these sectors have not changed much from those that have been used for centuries: woven fabrics applied to the exterior of the article as upholstery and padded with polyurethane foam.
Upholstering with this type of fabric needs a series of processes to achieve the finished result. Furniture upholstery is different from that used in vehicles. While both require pattern-making, cutting, textile manufacturing and assembly, processes that require very precise skills and which also create different types of textile waste from the cutting and assembly stages, the main difference is in how the textile and the foam are bonded.
In the furniture industry this bond is made using spray adhesive and laying the fabric on the foam. For car seat upholstery on the other hand, bonding is made prior to the cutting process. For this purpose, flame laminating is used, in which the surface of the foam is melted and then pressure-bonded to the fabric. This cheap technology is a serious environmental problem mainly due to two factors. On the one hand, toxic gases are released by the heating of the foam, and large quantities of hydrocyanic acid (HCN), carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2) are generated, among others. As a further complication is that this type of adhesion of the fabric to the foam means that the layers cannot be separated easily, which prevents its recyclability and thus its revaluation, so it ends up as landfill.
In spite of the above aspects, the properties offered by this type of structure in terms of mechanical resistance to rubbing and abrasion, added to their low cost, makes them the most frequently used option in these markets, while weft-knit fabric is used for specific applications.
For some time now, the leading furniture manufacturers have been using high-performance woven fabrics. This trend is now being seen in the transport sector, where some manufacturers have begun initial trials with this type of fabric.
The trend is mainly due to the advances in technology in recent years regarding flat knitting, broadening its range of application into different areas where textiles are the main component.
As a result of all this, there arose a need to propose a project to research and develop this type of textile using state-of-the-art knitting technologies to achieve substantial improvements on existing products, and guarantee optimum performance in terms of the requirements imposed by the furniture and transport sectors.
The main objective of the DE_PUNT project is the development of high performance textiles for the furniture and transport sector. In more detail, the project will focus on the development of versatile woven structures applicable to chairs and seating to improve, on the one hand, the user’s physical and thermal comfort, and on the other, features such as weight reduction and ease of assembly of the final article. The structures will be designed using high-performance technical fibres that guarantee optimum levels of stretch, wear and comfort, ensuring that textiles satisfy the demands of furniture and transport regulations.
According to the sector of application of the articles under study, two areas of action have been defined in the project:
- The first focuses on research and development of weft-knit textile structures for furniture.
- The second area tackles the research and development of high-performance weft-knit textile structures for the transport sector.
The development of these structures will take into account every factor affecting thermal comfort, breathability and user comfort, enhancing the performance of the final article. In addition, the articles must be well designed and attractive since this will be an important factor for their subsequent marketing.
The project will involve two lines of work framing all aspects of the research and the development of a range of demonstrators. The Institute’s Materials and Sustainability Research Group will make its entire facilities at the service of the project.
Within the framework of the DE_PUNT project, AITEX plans to research and develop different high-performance knitted textile structures with applications in the furniture and transport sectors.
Dividing the developments according to the points of improvement to be achieved in the furniture and transport sectors, the aim is to obtain:
- Lightweight and breathable textile structures with excellent mechanical performance for furniture articles and the transport sector, offering thermal comfort for the user. Additionally, the structures will have good fire behaviour to meet health and safety requirements.
- Sustainable pre-formed woven structures in the shape of the final article to avoid subsequent cutting or manufacturing processes and prevent waste. The structures will be applicable to single-material designs to facilitate textile recycling.
- Textile structures aimed at facilitating assembly and fitting of the components of the final article. The aim is on the one hand, to reduce manufacturing and assembly times and, on the other, to minimize human error.
Once the characteristics mentioned above have been integrated into the textile, a series of demonstrators will be developed to demonstrate that the products have both optimum technical performance and functional properties providing an added-value factor. The following type of articles will be developed:
- Functional designer furniture for indoor and outdoor use for target sectors.
o OFFICE CHAIR DEMONSTRATOR
o EASY CHAIR DEMONSTRATOR
o FOLDING SCREEN DEMONSTRATOR
- Functional designer seating for transport based on target sectors.
This project is funded by the Conselleria d’Economia Sostenible, Sectors Productius, Comerç i Treball de la Generalitat Valenciana, through IVACE.
GRANT NUMBER: IMAMCI/2020/1
MORE INFORMATION IN THE NON-ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES PLAN
- Year: 2020
- Status: Finished
- Entity: IVACE