Textiles are cooler than medicine
People these days, who, instead of studying to be a lawyer, teacher or doctor, sign up for something to do with textiles, are not infrequently met with a perplexed shake of the head. “Textiles – isn’t that a bit of a dead subject?” – that it could hardly be more alive is clearly demonstrated by six students from the University of Albstadt-Sigmaringen.
“I actually wanted to study medicine, but my exam scores were not good enough”, says Anna-Lena (above, right). Looking back, it was the best thing that could possibly have happened to her, she insists. Thanks to her passion for knitting, she hit upon the idea of studying “something to do with textiles”. Today, she thinks that it is much cooler than medicine – it helps unbelievably many people with, for example, knitted heart valves or aortas”, she says. The problem is that, outside the sector, even experts in potential user target groups (still) don’t understand.
Elen Judith (above, second from left) also claims that anyone, who thinks textiles are ‘dead’, has a problem of perception. “We are surrounded by more textiles than cars, yet the car has a much higher profile in Germany – that’s really a bit strange”, she says. In the end, when she has finished her training as a technical assistant in the clothing industry, she wanted to study fashion design, but she has now opted for a course in Textiles and Apparel Management. “I need a challenge and complex problems to deal with, that is why I wanted to go in a technological direction”, says Elen Judith.
No worries about the future
These two and their four fellow students, Valentina, Katharina, Tatjana and Jasmin (above, from right to left), aged between 20 and 30, are all studying at the University of Albstadt-Sigmaringen and quite deliberately chose a career in textiles. And, because of this, they are just right for the ‘Digital Textile Micro-Factory’, designed by the Institutes for Textiles and Fibre Research in Denkendorf, together with their partners. They are there to show the trade and professional visitors how clothes will be able to be made more efficiently, more sustainably and with greater digital involvement in the future. The various stages range from Digital Prototyping, which involves the three-dimensional design of the individual item of clothing, via a virtual and augmented reality showroom, (which could make ‘real’ meetings with the retailer to evaluate new collections redundant), to the assembly stage, where, in the dextrous hands of the six textiles students, the individual pieces are put together and made into a polo shirt.
“It’s an ideal symbiosis of high-end technologies and traditional textiles craftwork”, says their professor, Prof. Christian Kaiser (above, centre), who specialises in 3D-simulation, augmented/virtual reality and the digitalisation of process chains. In response to questions on the difficulties of recruiting new blood into the textile and apparel industry, Kaiser becomes surprisingly and enthusiastically optimistic: “When I see the talent and enthusiasm with which my students approach their work with textiles, I have absolutely no worries about the sector’s future”, he says. On the contrary: “Time and again they surprise me with the amazing range of things that can be done with textiles”.