Textile Prototyping Lab - A Platform and Open Laboratory for the Promotion of Open Innovation and Networking between Research, Design and Industry

This paper introduces and discusses the Textile Prototyping Lab (hereinafter referred to as 'TPL'), which is a joint research project in its early stages of five organisations from the fields of textiles, electronic research, design and economics. It comprises the concept, design, installation and testing of a textile prototyping laboratory that is more open, flexible and interdisciplinary than other textile-related laboratories known to date. The core topic of the project is Open Innovation, which means research and development is conducted within the new context of sharing resources and results amongst the directly involved actors and the interested community consisting of industry, individual professionals and students. Thus the research and development activities relevant to the individual parties involved in this project are conducted jointly and made available beyond their own organisational boundaries. The concept is implemented by five partners with a sound expertise in their respective fields of action: The Saxon Textile Research Institute (STFI) and the Textile Research Institute Thuringia-Vogtland (TITV Greiz) - two leading German textile research institutes - are contributing their expertise in textile process chains, lightweight construction and Smart Textiles to the project. The Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration (IZM) supports the lab in the field of microelectronic integration into textile structures, but Fab Lab Berlin - with their expertise related to Open Innovation processes. weißensee academy of art berlin serves as the network coordinator and contributes its knowledge in textile design, design education and design research. This research project is part of futureTEX, an interdisciplinary competence network in which industry, scientific institutions and associations work together to actively shape the future of the German textile industry, fostering new interdisciplinary ideas, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Germany. The infrastructure of TPL consists of a digitally supported central prototyping lab located at the weißensee academy of art berlin, supplemented by highly specialised facilities and 'focus labs‘ located at the partner institutes. A specifically developed software connects the different facilities and supports lean development processes. Additionally an extensive material library embodies and represents the textile expertise and serves as an analogue resource of references, information and inspiration in order to communicate the competence fields and technological possibilities of TPL. TPL connects different stakeholders from the textile sector and beyond promoting exchange among these. Diverse actors benefit from the competences of the TPL infrastructure and its network. The processes are adapted to serve different user types (e.g. industry, SMEs, start-ups, designers, engineers, developers, free-lancers, students). Thus TPL is an open and agile place where interdisciplinary practices and interests meet to foster quick and effective innovation processes within the extended field of textiles.