Student projects that can lead to new research projects

Their main supervisor, Professor Mikael Skrifvars, tells more:

“In one project, we wanted to explore the possibilities of using 3D printing for different kinds of plastic mixtures and how this can be used on different textile materials. The second project is about extracting the substance collagen, a fibre protein, from reindeer tendons, and then spinning yarn from it and seeing if it is possible to develop a technology for production on a large scale.”

He is satisfied with the results and continues, “The students' work constitutes preliminary studies for future research projects. We are delighted that they wanted to come to the University of Borås and immerse themselves in our projects.”

The two students who have been given the opportunity to do these projects are Katharina Knappmann from Germany and Estel Sarrau Claret from Spain. Both have studied textile engineering in their respective home countries.

Project linked to smart textiles

After her undergraduate studies, Katharina Knappmann wanted to do a project linked to smart textiles. She chose to come to the University of Borås to do a project on 3D-printed electrodes for, for example, medical applications to measure ECG or EMG.

“Today, in medical care, electrodes are attached with a conductive gel, but this can be irritating to the skin. Therefore, new solutions are interesting,” she explains, and continues, “I have investigated various polymeric mixtures, tested their strength and how they attach to different textile materials. For this, I have used the 3D printer to print various blends of plastic on different textiles and then examined how flexible and durable the material is.”

Developing technology for large scale production

Estel Sarrau Claret's project is completely different from Katharina Knappmann's, although they work in the same lab. She is looking at the subject of collagen, a fibre protein, which is found in animal tendons.

“I have treated tendons from reindeer to retrieve the fibres. I have then treated them to get different properties. The purpose of the project is to develop technology to be able to produce fibres on a larger scale. The only ones who actually use the fibres from the reindeer tendons are the Sami people, who extract them by chewing on the tendons. They are then spun into thread and used in various crafts to, among other things, sew in leather,” she explains.

What areas of application the fibres that Estel Sarrau Claret retrieves and processes could be used for is not clear; perhaps it will be possible to develop something within the medical technology area. She has considered whether it is possible to produce a durable yarn with suitable properties.

The students have had to work very independently in these projects, which they appreciate.

“The project has made me more independent. I haven't worked alone in a lab before. I have also learned a lot about how to proceed when conducting experiments of this kind and how devices that are new to me work,” says Estel Sarrau Claret.

ECG, measurement of electrical activity in muscle response to stimulation of the neural system on muscles.
EMG, measurement of electrical activity in the heart muscle.

Read more

Read more about the research in Polymer Technology.

Read more about the research in Textiles and Fashion, and Smart Textiles.

Read more about the research in Resource Recovery.

Text: Solveig Klug
Foto: Suss Wilén
Translator: Eva Medin

Published: 2019-01-08