In the sporting goods industry, up to 30% of the material used in the production process can go to waste, and products normally end up in the bin sooner or later. At the same time, the world is battling an ever-shrinking supply of resources. As part of the EU project “Sport Infinity”, an international consortium led by adidas is working on a new generation of sportswear that can be reused an infinite number of times. The items – such as football boots – are broken down into tiny parts weighing just a few grams, which are then combined with leftover material from other industries to form new products. In future, football boots could therefore contain any type of material – from carbon fibres that are used in aircraft construction to the fibres of football boots that shot goals during the last world cup.
Sport Infinity’s goal is to develop innovative composite materials based partly on waste so that adaptable sporting goods can be produced from synthetic materials in an automated process. The project uses a design-focused approach, where the material provides the designer with maximum freedom and a great deal of potential for innovation. The approach used enables the project to generate various types of products, in which lots of different materials can be joined together without needing to add glue and/or other adhesives. The international consortium combines the expertise throughout the entire value creation chain – from design and material development, production and marketing, through to sales and recycling – across several different disciplines.
The journey to success: Comprehensive advice – Hand in hand
The Sport lnfinity project includes two companies who receive support from Bayern Innovativ in a range of areas. The foundation stone for successful collaboration was laid by the New Materials Cluster managed by Bayern Innovativ. The cluster brought the two companies together at an information event on “EU funding for research and innovation projects” hosted by BayFOR. A suitable call was identified and a first project identification meeting was organised with Bayern Innovativ and BayFOR. BayFOR then provided additional advice and support during the application process, including active support in designing and implementing the application as well as help through the first and second phases. The project started in June 2015. In addition to the coordinator adidas (which is based in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria), the consortium includes nine other industry experts: BASF SE, KISKA GmbH, Fill Gesellschaft m.b.H., University of Leeds, Centre for Technical Textiles (CTT), Association CETI (Centre Européen des Textiles lnnovants), Hypercliq E.E. and SportsMethod Ltd. The Bavarian partners are the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg and OECHSLER AG.