NGST | Next generation protective textiles

Efficient production of novel, high-quality infection control textiles

Considerable shortages of protective textiles, especially respirators, occurred during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, which were exacerbated by the fact that there was insufficient production capacity in Germany and the EU at the time. Short-term retooling at EU companies and the import of goods often did not lead to success, as these protective textiles were of highly variable quality, which had a negative impact on safety.

The "Next Generation Protective Textiles" initiative aims to remedy this situation by researching new approaches for the production of high-quality protective textiles.

The project "NGST" is structured in several subtasks

High homogeneity of the nonwoven - here PET microfiber
© Fraunhofer IGCV
High homogeneity of the nonwoven - here PET microfiber

The project includes

  • qualified selection of primary materials
  • Studies on upscaling to create the conditions for rapid expansion of production capacities
  • development of novel antiviral coatings
  • comprehensive biological and materials science analysis to verify the improved properties and open up new quality control methods.

    The protective textiles developed in the project have a wide range of applications beyond medical and civil protection. In principle, they can be used wherever immediate cleaning and disinfection are complex or unique filtration tasks are required, such as in mobile or stationary filter systems for air purification or individual personal protection.

    In the project, Fraunhofer IGCV is researching the development of a manufacturing process for nonwovens as the basis for infection control and filtration media based on wet nonwoven technology. Compared to state-of-the-art (melt-blown technology), this is potentially characterized by significantly increased production capacities and increased flexibility concerning material variety. The main challenges here are, in particular, the very high-quality requirements based on low basis weights for processing the finest possible micro-staple fibers.

Pursuing novel approaches to increase quality and efficacy in the production of protective textiles.

We aim to provide optimized nonwoven materials as feedstock for subsequent antiviral coatings and assess and demonstrate the high technological potential of wetlaid technology in this field of application.

For this purpose, an existing pilot wetlaid nonwoven line was specifically modified on a pilot plant scale. Thus, it is possible to produce nonwoven materials from micro-staple fibers in the required very high quality in terms of uniformity, basis weight, blending, and thickness profile with high reproducibility. A standard PP nonwoven was used as a comparison system, produced using melt-blown technology following the current state of the art. In addition to the PP comparison variants, however, the processing of PLA, viscose, and PET staple fibers, among others, was also investigated. The focus here is on maximum fiber fineness (microfibers) in each case to achieve the largest possible specific fiber surface or effective area in the nonwoven. To emphasize the significantly increased flexibility of wetlaid nonwoven technology, innovative variants based on modified bi-component fibers with maximized fiber surface area and split fibers are also being conceptually tested.

In addition to aspects of direct material and process development, the scale of the pilot plant will provide a comprehensive data basis for estimating subsequent scaling up to industrial series production. This will give a technological starting point for the ramp-up of efficient, national production of nonwoven-based infection control materials based on wet-laying technology.

Cooperation with Fraunhofer IGCV

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Industry solutions

The key sectors of Fraunhofer IGCV:

  • Mechanical and plant engineering
  • Aerospace
  • Automotive and commercial vehicles


We are shaping the way into the future of efficient engineering, networked production and intelligent multi-material solutions.