Focus on sustainability: Covestro aids innovative fibre technology that could revolutionise building construction

09 August 2023

Experts from Covestro describe how its polyurethane resin provided strength and durability to the novel construction of a building using textile-like materials instead of steel or concrete. The sustainability advantages of this include a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions 

With the Texoversum, Reutlingen University has put into operation a training and innovation centre for the textile industry that is unique in Europe. The almost 2000 square meter textile-like façade of the new building also causes a sensation architecturally: It charmingly combines the innovative power of this industry with the 160-year tradition of Reutlingen as a textile location.

The highlight: The components were wound from fibres that are fixed with a special plastic resin.

The façade of the Texoversum is just one example of a brand new technology that could completely revolutionise the construction industry. The sophisticated structure was designed on the computer and is based on carbon fibres wound by robots. Similar to networks in nature, for example in spider webs, beetle wings or palm leaves, the fibre structures are also very lightweight but at the same time highly resilient and require very little material. This not only saves resources, but also facilitates transport and assembly of the components.


The sophisticated construction was designed on the computer and is based on carbon fibres wound by robots. © FibR GmbH

The co-inventor of the innovative technology is architect Prof. Moritz Dörstelmann, whose company FibR also realised the façade of the Texoversum: “In contrast to conventional steel and concrete structures, we are able to get by with a minimum of material, because the robots only process as many fibres as are needed for the strength of the respective structure. As a result, we also save large amounts of CO emissions.” Dörstelmann also sees advantageous applications for the technology in roof structures, supports and, not least, interior fittings.

The necessary strength and durability of the composite is provided by Covestro’s aliphatic polyurethane resin system Desmocomp®, in which the fibers are embedded as if in a matrix. “The resin is highly resistant to weathering and the sun’s high-energy UV radiation, making it very suitable for outdoor applications,” explains Pejman Norastehfar, architect and specialist for construction applications in Covestro’s Coatings and Adhesives segment. “Other plus points in the construction sector are its excellent chemical and flame resistance.”


For the fibre technology, FibR takes nature as a model: Similar to networks in nature, for example in spider webs, the fibre structures are also very lightweight, but at the same time highly resilient, and manage with a very low material input. © FibR GmbH

In the Texoversum, the spun façade performs several important functions at once: it gives the building a unique look and stabilises the surrounding balconies. It also serves as a railing and provides the necessary shade for the glass front behind it.

The building provides approximately 3,000 square metres of space for workshops, laboratories, a textile collection, think tank space and classrooms. The costs for the construction of the Texoversum amounting to €18.5M were borne by the employers’ association Südwesttextil, whose members include FibR GmbH in Kernen, east of Stuttgart.

Main image caption: The Texoversum at Reutlingen University is a reference object for a new technology that could revolutionise the construction industry: The components of its façade were wound from fibres and fixed with Covestro’s Desmocomp® system. © FibR GmbH

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