Techtextil demonstrates new developments for textile construction

Architecture has long been involved in the application of technical textiles to construct buildings. Coated fabrics in particular use a multitude of chemical additives to purposefully adapt them to a specified application. Architects use membranes for roof structures and facades due to the ease with which they can be formed. Yet research and development is continuously developing the range of technical textiles used in building to create ever more application areas for above and below ground construction. At Techtextil, the trade fair for technical textiles and non-wovens that takes place from 11 – 13 June 2013 in Frankfurt am Main, leading companies and institutes will present their latest developments for construction and architecture with technical textiles.

Fibre reinforced technical fabrics are a combination of fibre reinforcement (such as glass fibres, carbon fibres, natural fibres etc.), the so-called matrix (plastics, textiles) and various additives. Building components and raw materials with quite different properties tailored to the specific application are created through the combination of individual components and on the basis of special manufacturing technologies.

From the cellar to the roof
The energy-related requirements placed on existing and new buildings by the German Energy Saving Directive (EnEv) prescribe that a building must be impermeable to air. The films that are used to achieve this incorporate a textile fabric that guarantees the necessary process stability and durability for use in construction. Depending on the area of application, they additionally meet all structural and technical requirements.

When used underground geotextiles have the function of floor and / or external wall insulation to protect against soil moisture. When there is a build up of water pressure such as a high water table or in proximity to a river etc. they are used to form the external protective layer in which the building stands – generally concrete tanking where the water is under pressure. These films are subject to strong structural forces produced by the pressure of water and earth. Such conditions demand the use of nothing less than special films with corresponding fibre reinforcement.

In circumstances where building components are in contact with the earth controlled drainage must be enabled in order to avoid damp getting into the cellar wall. Traditionally gravel drains have been used. These have the disadvantage that they tend to become clogged up with particles of earth over the time they are used. This does not apply to geotextiles due to their extreme water permeability and filtration effect. One such geotextile is Typar from DuPont de Nemours. It consists of thermally bonded, infinite polypropylene fibres. Continuous, ultra-fine fibres are produced by extrusion and processed into a non-woven. Depending on the production setting resistant structures can be manufactured with various gauges of thread and different physical properties.

Floor - ceiling
The vapour-tight barrier film from CaPlast is moisture barrier for floor panels against rising damp according to DIN 18195 T4 or can be used as a vapour retardant barrier in the ceilings between floors. The multi-layer special film consists of intermediate layers of corrosion protected aluminium that are covered on both sides with a geo-fleece. It is also used on concrete ceilings against residual damp during the setting process. The film is laid overlapping on a clean floor surface and raised 10 cm at the edges. Its double-sided fleece protects it from the roughness of the substrate. A clean and vapour tight seam can be achieved with the double-sided adhesive at the edges of the film.

Earthquake protection in the facade
In an earthquake you usually only have seconds to escape into the open air. However often fallen rubble blocks the escape routes out of the building. A development from the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) extends the time available to escape by strengthening walls and holding back rubble. An international building material manufacturer has now taken this product ready innovation and brought it to market.

Research was undertaken over several years as to how in existing, older buildings masonry walls liable to earthquake damage can be secured retrospectively in a way that it cost-effective. The result is a glass-fibre plastic fabric with fibres in four axes that can be attached to the facade of the house with the right plaster. Finally this high-tech fabric has now been developed for large scale production together with a manufacturer for technical fabrics, Dr. Günther Kast GmbH & Co. KG. The Italian building material manufacturer Röfix, a subsidiary of the German Fixit-Gruppe has now made it commercially available under the 'Sisma Calce' brand name with a plaster to use with the fabric.

The reinforcement should delay the collapsing of masonry walls during earthquakes and in the ideal case avoid it completely. Particularly in the case of short and moderate earthquakes the additional tensile strength can minimise damage to the building. Thanks to the system's simplicity in the way it acts as prophylactic dressing on the building it is quite easy to install the next time renovation work is undertaken and it is combined with insulation.

The high stiffness and considerable tensile strength of the glass fibre components of the fabric that is embedded in the plaster enable walls to better reduce the higher tensile stresses which occur during earthquakes, thus avoiding punctual damage that develops into cracks. In the event that the glass fibres do rupture in a strong earthquake the elastic polypropylene fibres can hold the broken wall segments together and so keep the escape routes free.

In cooperation with Bayer MaterialScience AG, MAPEI S.p.A. and Dr. Günther Kast GmbH und Co. KG work is currently being done on an adhesive-backed earthquake protection fabric for interior use. In the longer term the team is researching systems that can be applied effectively not only for masonry walls but also for concrete buildings.

The Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) is a statutory body under public law according to the laws of the state of Baden-Württemberg. It fulfils its mission as both a university and a national research centre in Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. KIT pursues its tasks in the knowledge triangle of research, education and innovation.

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