Textile start-ups

While many people are still debating whether ‘start-up’ is written with or without a hyphen, companies of this kind are shooting up like mushrooms on a damp and mild autumn day. A particularly large number of start-ups is to be found in Berlin where they are pushing their way into well-established sectors and thoroughly stirring things up with a host of new ideas. The textile sector is no exception to this process, as shown by Suragus GmbH from Dresden.

The company’s roots can be traced back to 2010 when the present-day Suragus CEO, Marcus Klein, and his three colleagues at the Fraunhofer Institute for Non-destructive Testing (IZFP) developed a new method for testing, inter alia, fibres and composites without destroying them in the process. That was completely new at the time – and is still unrivalled today. In accordance with Schiller’s dictum, “Therefore test, who wants to bind himself forever”, it is possible to monitor carbon-fibre components of different lengths that have been joined together to make one piece. And this is done during the complex production process itself using electro-magnetic sensors that look deep – and without contact – into the structure of the fibres. This increases the level of trustworthiness, saves materials and, therefore, money.

Non-destructive and non-contact quality assurance on a nonwoven carbon fabric

Non-destructive and non-contact quality assurance on a nonwoven carbon fabric. Source: Suragus

Before the young engineers’ pioneering breakthrough, fibre-reinforced composites had to be checked visually or with ultrasound devices for material faults, air pockets or cracks after production had been completed. And this still meant that defects in the complicated fibre structure, which is all-important for the stability of the component, could go unnoticed – a tricky situation for aerospace, automobile and industrial companies. Today, they use the new testing technology to ensure their composites are completely free of defects.

This innovative method has also been honoured by innovation award juries. Thus, in 2013, Suragus was singled out for the Innovation Prize of the Free State of Saxony, which is worth € 25,000. According to Richard Kupke, Project Manager, Carbon Fibre Testing, part of this money was immediately invested in a fully automatic coffee machine that keeps the company’s software developers, engineers, economists and sales experts, of which there are now 17, reliably supplied with the necessary ‘fuel’.

Typical of a start-up: every morning, they eat breakfast together. Once a week, there is a sporting event, e.g., football, hockey, table tennis, etc. And, every six months or so, there is a team event, such as a trip to a go-cart track. Naturally, they also play table football (see photo above). So, bring the table with you to the next Techtextil – we accept the challenge!

Ronny Eckert

Ronny Eckert

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