Freely formable structural elements made of fiber-reinforced plastics
The areas of application for splineTEX® run the gamut from sports equipment, furniture, and construction components to auto chassis. The architect and scientist Valentine Troi has discovered and developed a pioneering technology for lightweight construction materials at the Institute for Experimental Architecture of the University of Innsbruck that is already protected by a patent. Based on research results, and with a highly motivated team at her side, she started a spin-off company at the beginning of 2011: together with international industrial partners, superTEX composites GmbH aims to industrially exploit the results of the research efforts and position the company on the international marketplace through products and projects.
The meteoric software developments in recent years have also opened the doors to hitherto unsuspected areas for architecture and design. However, these areas have until now often remained only virtual. Whoever has worked with free geometric forms before has been able to have a great time creating and altering them on the computer, but limits have soon been reached for anyone trying to realize freeform structures on the landscape. The production of complex geometric structures is extremely expensive. This issue, however, is exactly where the architect Valentine Troi’s material technological invention can be applied. She and the founder team of superTEX composites, whose members all have taught and researched building construction at the Institute for Experimental Architecture of the University of Innsbruck, have developed a revolutionary material technology. In the future, splineTEX® fibre composite profiles will allow complex geometrically formed structural elements in various scales to be realized at a significantly reduced cost. The multi-phase material, with carbon, glass, basalt, or hemp fibres as its basis, can easily be brought into the desired form while it is still in a soft state and handles very much like a garden hose, before it is then hardened. The expensive construction of moulds currently required to produce freeform building elements will therefore no longer be necessary.
After three years of work developing splineTEX®, they no longer have only architects and designers as clients. The automobile industry and the aircraft- and boat-building industries, as well as the aerospace sector, are showing interest in the ‘flexible composite material profiles’. At pertinent materials technology trade fairs and symposia, the material, which was originally developed for applications in the areas of architecture and design, has already been regarded as an ultra-lightweight alternative to the metal components shaped by bending (e.g. aluminium). Consequently, prototypes for metal detail work on cars of the future are now being planned.