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splineTEX® - freely shapeable structural elements made of fiber-reinforced plastics
The areas of application for splineTEX® range from sports equipment over furniture and elements for the construction of buildings to automotive bodies. At the Institute for Experimental Architecture of the University of Innsbruck, the architect and scientist Valentine Troi has invented and developed a novel materials technology for lightweight construction, which is already protected by patent. Based upon the research results and joined by a highly motivated team, she started a spin-off company in early 2011: together with international industrial partners, superTEX composites GmbH will commercialize the results of the research efforts and position them in the international marketplace through products and projects.
The rapid development of software over the past few years has pushed open the doors to previously unimagined new spaces in architecture and design. So far, how ever, these have often been no more than virtual spaces. Anyone interested in free geometrical structures has enjoyed vast opportunities to form and reshape structures within the computer – when it came to realizing these freeform structures in the real world, however, the limits of what was possible were easily reached. The creation of complex geometrical structures is extremely expensive. It is exactly this problem that architect Valentine Troi’s materials technology invention sets out to tackle. She and her founding team of superTEX, all of whom have taught and conducted research at the Institute for Experimental Architecture of the University of Innsbruck, have developed a revolutionary materials technology. In the future, the splineTEX® fiber composite profiles will allow the creation of complex geometrically formed structural elements in various scales at a considerably reduced cost. The multi-phase material, which is based on carbon, glass, basalt or hemp fibers, can easily be brought into the desired shape while it is still soft and behaves much like a garden hose, before it is then subsequently hardened.
It is therefore no longer necessary to create expensive shape molds which are currently required for the creation of freeform structural elements.
After three years of work developing splineTEX®, the customer base includes more than just architects and designers. The automotive industry, the aircraft and boat building industry as well as the aerospace sector have shown interest in the “flexible fiber compound profiles”. At leading material-technological trade shows and symposia, the material, which was originally developed for applications in the areas of architecture and design, has already been considered an ultra-lightweight alternative to metal parts shaped by bending (e.g. aluminum).