So simple… Human beings are fibre-reinforced composite materials! The biomechanical properties of the human body are mainly defined by fibres, like collagen, elastin etc. Therefore textile engineering is offering a multi-scale toolbox along the value chain: starting at the (i) polymer level via the (ii) fabrication of fibres (mono-/multifilament or cross-sectional geometries such as round, snowflakes, multi-lobar…) via the (iii) fabric level using traditional textile technologies like weaving, braiding, knitting, warp-knitting or finally load-oriented fibre deposition and finally (iv) into biomedical products.
Yes, there are a lot of important synthetic polymers. It is not the idea to make medical products more “green”. Innovation in medical applications is strongly linked with innovation in (bio)material research. Biobased materials are often offering specific mechanical or biological properties to overcome the limitations of current biomaterials used. These are intrinsic properties like anti-microbial behavior e.g. chitosan derived from crab shell, or spider silk with it excellent tensile properties or novel process technologies of cellulose enabling us to develop multi-phase drug-release systems in wound dressings and …
And the lesson I learned is: Using bio-based materials in the form of fibres has a high potential to overcome the current limitations for innovative medical solutions for future therapies.
And because that requires an interdisciplinary trustful cooperation that is the reason why I am participating in this excellent FibreNet-work!
Stefan Jockenhoevel, Univ.-Prof. Dr. med.
Biohybrid & Medical Textiles (BioTex)
RWTH Aachen University | University Hospital Aachen