18/03/2019 – Topp Textil — auf Deutsch lesen
New extrusion technique facilitated by external funding
Topp Textil is the inventor of a new coating technology; an extrusion technique which allows the melting of plastics which are then applied to fabrics under high pressure.
Director Stefan Topp
“With the help of this technique, we can produce thinner and finer layers which give elastic textiles a uniform coating. But without additional funding, we probably wouldn’t have been able to invest in the necessary research and development.”
These textiles are subsequently transformed into tapes or sheets in widths of 0.5 to 180cm. They can be used for car dashboards, doors or backrests, and – unlike conventionally produced fabrics – remain crease-free and do not become threadbare, even after years of heavy use. Until recently, thin plastic films were applied to textiles, but this technique was not always precise and far from flawless. Another advantage of the new technique is that it is more environmentally friendly. There is no waste from protective film and no transportation costs from the manufacturing site to the extrusion plants. Overall energy consumption is reduced by 50 percent.
Development projects do not guarantee success and carry a large risk. The prototype of the Topp Textil machine alone cost about a million euros—even without including the cost of work and materials. Stefan Topp never used to think about funding from other parties – after all, as the director of an SME, he had to act with the market in mind and not be bogged down by funding applications and paperwork. Or at least, that is what he used to think.
This changed six years ago when he met Michael Stöhr, Director of PFIF, and his colleague Judith Cudaj. This company from Lahr has 20 employees and is an expert in interpreting funding programmes, no matter whether they are devised by regional, national or EU governments. One example of their fruitful cooperation is the EUR 1.1m in funding received for seven Topp projects in the last five years. The funding for the extrusion technique was granted by the German Federal Ministry for Science and Research.
Innovations ensure business
“Innovations are our business and we’re great problem solvers,” explains Topp, the third-generation director of this family-run company founded in 1945. On the one hand, representatives of the company from Durach frequently visit clients and their production sites. After all, this is where they get the most useful information about current challenges and needs. It is this direct client contact that sparks 90 percent of the company's innovations. On the other hand, the company has a well-developed network of 200 employees in Germany, Italy and Romania, which also comprises four research institutions and about 50 like-minded partners. They support each other based on mutual trust, even though some of them are direct competitors.
Commenting on his cooperation with PFIF, Stefan Topp states: “Communication is quick and easy.” He also benefits from strategic advice and the PFIF network: in the 20 years since the company was founded, they have gained funding for 2,000 projects and approx. 1,000 SMEs.