ICNF 2019 - 4th International Conference on Natural Fibers

Tobias Maschler

Tobias Maschler

Development of Biomimetic Simulation-based Textile Structures for Novel Solutions for Moisture Evaporation, Separation and Supply of plants in Greenhouse Horticulture


German Institutes of Textile and Fiber Research (DITF), Germany


Tobias Maschler has worked since 2000 at the German Institutes of Textile and Fiber Research (DITF), nearby Stuttgart in south-west Germany. Dr.-Ing. Tobias Maschler studied technical cybernetics – mathematical modelling, system dynamics and control theory as well as its applications – at the University of Stuttgart. He studied as well at the University of Exeter (United Kingdom), where he received an MEng(EUR) in 1999. In his PhD thesis, Tobias Maschler developed an individually configurable intranet web application for digital processing and product descriptions, featuring dependency descriptions, automatic calculations and AI support.

DITF forms Europe’s largest research centre. It focuses on applied research and product development for textile industry and its application markets. Its department for management research department focuses on organisational and inter-organisational research topics arising from the ongoing industrial paradigm change towards digitalisation, “Industry 4.0” – from the product idea to product development to multi-stage production up to the end of the product life cycle. Dr. Maschler focuses on digitalisation in engineering of technical textiles and digital product characterisation. He is leading and carrying out European and national research and development project on these topics.

Tobias Maschler is teaching in production planning and management as well as factory planning at AKAD University, a German privately owned university.


This presentation gives an overview on the German national research Project AiF 19808 N «Textile Moisture Transport» [1], digitally developing special bio-based textile structures for moisture evaporation, separation, storage and transport using biomimetics to achieve an optimum between material usage and functionality and by applying the international Systems Engineering standard ISO/IEC/IEEE 15288.

Urban horticulture is gaining increasing in importance worldwide due to rural exodus, civil wars and the reduction of agricultural land due to climate change: in the year 2050 about 9.5 billion people will live on Earth - most of them in mega cities with more than 40 Mio. inhabitants. To cover the growing food needs, an additional area the size of Brazil would have to be managed. One way is to integrate food production into the cities: Dickson Despommier currently estimates global annual sales in the sector at 2 billion US $; but in 10 years to 50-100 billion US $. Although the local, sustainable production of fruit, vegetables and herbs - often for personal consumption - has been the focus of attention in Germany, urbanization will increase in the long term, and more and more agricultural commodity cultivation area will be needed for bio-based plastics and biofuels. Hence, there are needs for novel, optimised solutions facilitating integration of crop production into mega cities.

Textile structures provide promising application potentials in greenhouse and urban agriculture. In the German national research Project AiF 19808 N «Textile Moisture Transport» (01.01.2018-31.12.2020), the following textile solutions will be developed and validated in greenhouse crop production and other scenarios:

• A novel combination of a flexible solar powered textile evaporator and hot water collector forms a succeeding development stage of the flexible textile solar heating panels of DITF; they are re-engineered for heating water instead of air and will include special textile structures for water evaporation. The construction of the textile evaporation structures will follow the biomimetical model of the water hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes. The flexible solar powered textile evaporator and hot water collector will be validated as a novel way of water treatment for greenhouse crop production and as heating source for greenhouses.
• Bio-based humidity separation nonwovens will be engineered according to the biomimetical model of native epiphytic mosses. In contrast to existing fog-catching solutions available on the market, these textile structures will catch droplets of slowly moving heavy fog. Foreseen applications are germination support structures for special crops as well as fog-catchers working directly in the greenhouse for water treatment.
• The peat moss sphagnum has special structures for lifting and storing water using the wicking effect. It serves as biomimetical example for bio-based humidity storage and transport nonwovens – with an optimal material usage and functionality. In the project, the application of these biodegradable nonwovens for capillary water supply and storage in soilless crop production will be validated.

The development activities in the project are carried out following the process descriptions in the international standard ISO/IEC/IEEE 15288 “Systems and software engineering – System life cycle processes”. The standard aims to facilitate communication in and between organisations during product conception, development, usage and depletion by providing standardised descriptions for common processes and their outcomes. These processes are carried out as needed during the product life cycle. To facilitate uptaking and reuse of biomimetical analyses, a process description for biomimetics derived the ones in ISO/IEC/IEEE 15288 is developed and validated within the project.

The current trend towards digitalisation in industry “Industry 4.0” – often seen as the 4th industrial revolution – will cover all phases of the product life cycle and therefore rely on “digital twins” of the textile semi finishs for product development. Therefore, AiF 19808 N «Textile Moisture Transport» will showcase digital product development for textile producers using digital product descriptions with simulation models of the product’s behaviour in application.

[1] Maschler, T.; Sarsour, J.; Ebner, M.; Miranda, T., Stegmaier, T., Tilebein, M., Gresser, G.T., Nebelsick, J. (2017): Textiler Feuchtetransfer – Biomimetisch-simulationsbasierte Textilstrukturen für neuartige Lösungen zur Feuchteverdunstung, -kondensation und -versorgung von Pflanzen im Gewächshausgartenbau. Branchenübergreifender AiF-Projektantrag, 01.01.2018-31.12.2020. https://www.textiler-feuchtetransfer.de/(12.11.2018).





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Abstract submission

31st January 2019

Communication of acceptance

15th February 2019

Early Bird registration

31st March 2019

Award Application

31th May 2019