A measuring system made out of plastic fibers

Measuring stressed surfaces in 3D

By developing and using innovative materials, researchers at the Steinbeis Innovation Center for Application- Oriented Material, Production and Process Technology have successfully created a novel measuring system with hitherto unforeseen properties. The secret: extrinsically conductive plastic fibers. In partnership with the Zwickau-based firm Sächsisches Metall Zentrum, the Steinbeis experts also equipped the new measuring system to share data wirelessly. A specially designed computer program then displays the measurements in 3D. This innovative measuring system has potential applications in ergonomics, mechanical and plant engineering, as well as automotive industry.

Weight-saving materials are in high demand in industry – especially in automotive and aerospace engineering. As such, these materials – especially plastics – have to withstand an increasingly wide range of conditions, which means companies now require special new measuring systems, techniques and equipment for these materials. As the industry currently lacks the right tools to measure local stress in plastic components which are stretched, deformed or subject to mechanical stress, developing measuring equipment made from these materials is a priority.

As part of a research project sponsored by the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations, the Steinbeis Innovation Center for Application-Oriented Material, Production and Process Technology joined forces with Sachsische Metall Zentrum to develop a 3D static and dynamic measuring system using extrinsically conductive plastic fibers.

The measuring system consists of a series of extrinsically conductive plastic fibers which can be integrated into textiles. The electrical resistance of the fibers varies depending on how they are bent. This information is recorded by a data capture unit, then processed and visualized in 3D by special software – thus showing the level of mechanical stress.

A tubular version of this measuring system could conceivably be used to directly measure people’s feet and record gait during running. This would have a variety of useful applications, such as measuring how well shoes fit and recording foot positions before, during and after sporting activity.


Matthias Neubert | Anjum Saleem | Nico Herbig |
Robert Meichsner | Alexandru Söver |
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Lars Frormann

Steinbeis Innovation Center for Application-Oriented Material, Production and Process Technology (Zwickau)

Share this page