Dr.-Ing. Götz Gresser succeeds Prof. Dr.-Ing. Heinrich Planck as director of the Institute of Textile Technology and Process Engineering (ITV) Denkendorf. Gresser regards the application-oriented research and development in the fields of medical technology and biotechnology as an important success factor of the institute and will continue to further develop this.
The new director of the ITV is actually an old acquaintance: prior to his new position, Gresser already had a long-standing business relationship with the ITV Denkendorf, and highly values the institute’s performance and employees. Gresser held several senior positions at Rieter Machine Works Ltd. in Winterthur, Switzerland, where he coordinated cooperative R&D activities with external research organisations and institutes, including the ITV Denkendorf. However, Gresser’s connections with the region go even further back.
Born in Stuttgart, he studied mechanical engineering at the University of Stuttgart and, after his undergraduate studies, focussed specifically on industrial management and textile engineering. Gresser: “I chose textile engineering although I had no ‘textile’ background. It was more or less a coincidence that made me take this direction.” One of Gresser’s friends, who now works as a patent attorney for the ITV Denkendorf, somehow fired his enthusiasm for this special area of mechanical engineering. His enthusiasm for the subject was further boosted by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Egbers, who at the time was not only Gresser’s university teacher, but also head of the ITV Denkendorf. “He always taught through practical examples and attached great importance to involving students in research and development very early on,” recalls Gresser who has since remained in the area of textile engineering and did his doctoral thesis on spinning technology at the ITV Denkendorf, which he completed in 1998.
Gresser was initially not interested in pursuing an academic research career and decided to move on to Rieter Machine Works Ltd., which, with a global workforce of some 5,000 employees, is one of the largest companies in the textile engineering industry worldwide. He held a number of different positions in the company and was able to transfer innovations from applied research into marketable commodities. “I was given technological responsibility right from the very beginning, initially for the development of a new carding machine which condensed loose fibres into an untwisted strand which is subsequently spun into yarn,” Gresser says. The project was so successful that Gresser was offered a managerial position just three years after he had started working for Rieter. In subsequent years, Gresser held several managerial positions, including in business development and technical management. “The advantage of this is that it gave me an overview of the whole textile business, and insights into the field from different angles,” Gresser says. Back then, he attached great importance to learning how experts and know-how could be brought together in order to create a successful new product. “I really enjoyed pushing the development of products forward and commercialising them. This involved working within a large network of which the ITV Denkendorf was part,” Gresser says.
Gresser heard from his predecessor Prof. Planck that the ITV Denkendorf was looking for somebody to take over the leadership of the institute. “I heard about the vacancy at the right time,” says Gresser who, after his success in industry, was planning to become involved in applied research. Gresser saw his move to the ITV Denkendorf as a logical continuation of his career. “I don’t think that an institute that was purely focussed on basic research would have been the right place for me. I like to have an eye on the final product and the industry.” His extensive business contacts are a plus, along with his experiences in personnel management, budget responsibility and internationalisation. However, as familiar as many specific areas and the ITV Denkendorf’s fields of activity are to him, Gresser has nevertheless had little contact with products and methods specific to the fields of medical technology and biotechnology.However, Gresser has no reservations at all: “Medical technology and biotechnology are certainly the areas I need to familiarise myself with more than any other fields. However, Professor Planck has left me a successful and well organised institute, so I will be able to spend the time I need gaining in-depth knowledge of these fields.” In his previous position, Gresser had already made the acquaintance of medical applications, where machines were used for the production of nonwoven products, i.e. nonwoven textile products such as bandages, cotton pads, cotton swabs and other hygiene articles. Although Gresser is not yet familiar with all the details and subtleties of the development of medtech and biotech products, he is nevertheless 100% sure that “such products have great future potential, especially as far as the production of functional textiles is concerned.” Gresser names ‘smart textiles’ as an example of functional textiles; smart textiles are textiles enhanced with sensing fibres that can transmit vital parameters. “This is highly attractive for baby clothing, but also for professional clothing such as that used by firefighters. In the latter case, smart textiles transmit data on a firefighter’s health and stress level and can be used to pull him or her out of a danger zone should this be indicated,” Gresser explains.
Gresser also sees the combination of different processes as yet another important aspect, especially with regard to medical applications. Taking medical netting materials as an example, Gresser explains: “These materials are knitted immediately after the yarn has been produced. The production processes are closely interlinked and therefore need to be monitored together. The secret of the successful transfer of textile products into serial production lies in the knowledge and understanding of the technical processes involved. And at the ITV Denkendorf we have the ideal conditions for doing this,” Gresser says referring to his second managerial function in Denkendorf, namely as the director of ITV Denkendorf Product Service Ltd., which, along with the ITV Denkendorf is located on the German Institutes for Textile and Fibre Research Denkendorf (DITF) premises. “The close vicinity to other DITF facilities in Denkendorf gives us access to industry-related pilot plants, and we are therefore able to directly integrate innovations into production processes,” Gresser explains.
Medical technology has long been a key activity at the ITV Denkendorf and Gresser hopes to be able to promote other ITV activities. In particular, he is aiming to make ITV Denkendorf an international leader in innovative technical textiles, for example in the field of spinning, with the development of machines for the production and processing of high-performance fibres such as carbon and glass fibres. “Although the worldwide use of carbon in fibre technology is currently still low, I firmly believe that this will change. Carbon fibres reinforced with epoxy resins have similar properties to steel and aluminium, but are considerably lighter. The automotive, aviation and space industries have huge interest in such products. Moreover, the development of prostheses – leg prostheses, for example – in the field of medicine might also benefit from such developments.”
Gresser is also looking forward to teaching up-and-coming scientists about the exciting future potential of modern textile technology. In addition to becoming director of the ITV Denkendorf, Gresser was also offered the chair of the Department of Textile Technology, Fibre-based Materials and Textile Machine Engineering at the University of Stuttgart. Gresser has already accepted the offer. Negotiations are underway and Gresser expects to be able to start teaching in the 2013/2014 winter semester. “New technologies have led to the emergence of new fields of applications that were unimaginable 20 years ago. Large projects carried out with automotive manufacturers no longer only deal with textile covers. I would like to show students that there are many exciting fields of activity where textile technology can be applied.” Here the circle closes and Gresser continues with something his former mentor Prof. Egbers was so successful with, stimulating enthusiasm for the possibilities of modern textile technology.
ITV DenkendorfDr.-Ing. Götz T. GresserKörschtalstraße 2673770 DenkendorfTel.: +49 (0)711 9340-216E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org