Industrial Design Engineering Students Design Product Concepts Using Corning® Fibrance® Light-Diffusing Fiber | Fibrance® Technology | Corning

"The unique attributes of the product, and the myriad ways it can be used provided an interesting challenge for our students.”  - Sjoerd van Dommelen, design coach and course coordinator of the Bachelor End Project at TU Delft.

DELFT, NETHERLANDS – A group of 20 students in the Industrial Design Engineering (IDE) faculty at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) had the opportunity to work with Corning® Fibrance® Light-Diffusing Fiber as part of their final project to reach their bachelor degree. The students were challenged by Infraconcepts Netherlands B.V. to develop innovative product concepts incorporating Fibrance technology. 

“This product is unique and very versatile, and can be used to enable innovation for a variety of applications,” said Kees Wouters, Business Development Manager at Infraconcepts. “Our challenge is to identify and focus on applications where Fibrance technology’s unique attributes will add the most value.”

With that goal in mind, Kees approached TU Delft to inquire about potential collaboration opportunities with the university. TU Delft was thrilled to have students in their IDE faculty develop product concepts using Fibrance fiber. “We were intrigued by the light-diffusing fiber, and interested in challenging our design students to explore the potential applications of this technology,” said Sjoerd van Dommelen, design coach and course coordinator of the Bachelor End Project at TU Delft.

And the students were excited, too. “As soon as we saw Fibrance, we fell in love with it,” said Frank Peeters, one student who worked on this project.

TU Delft students group shot Infraconcepts
Photo courtesy Infraconcepts Netherlands B.V.

“Prior to the start of the IDE Bachelor Final Project, all 180 participating students had the opportunity to express which project they would prefer to work on, out of nine total projects.  A third of the students selected the Fibrance case,” said Sjoerd.   

Sjoerd opted to include Fibrance fiber because “the unique attributes of the product, and the myriad ways it can be used provided an interesting challenge for our students.”

The nine-week project kicked off earlier this summer, and was divided into three parts.  First, students familiarized themselves with the technology to identify its unique attributes – its strengths as well as its limitations.  Next, they conducted market research and analysis to better understand where and how Fibrance fiber could add value.  Lastly, with their knowledge of the technology and potential markets and applications, the students developed product concepts to meet the following criteria outlined by Infraconcepts.

-  The product should incorporate Fibrance fiber.
-  The product should solve a problem.
-  The product should have a significant market opportunity.

At the end of nine weeks, the 20 students presented their applications to their customer, Infraconcepts. And as an extra motivation to generate innovative applications, Infraconcepts offered the student with the most creative product design the opportunity to visit Corning’s Sullivan Park Research Center in the U.S. to present their ideas to Corning.    

“All of the students’ unique perspectives on the technology gave us further insight into the product and the many ways it could be utilized for a variety of applications ranging from architecture, maritime and medical, to consumer electronics and textiles,” said Kees.  “They came up with a lot of creative ideas, and demonstrated an excellent grasp on the product and potential markets in a short period of time.”

Ultimately, Bernd Laas and Frank Peeters were chosen to visit Corning earlier this summer to present their architectural lighting application to the Fibrance business development and technology teams including research and development, product management and key executives.

While it isn’t difficult to come up with ideas for Fibrance applications, the team of students at IDE TU Delft thought through some key attributes in the design space that uniquely leverage Fibrance. They also raised some specific questions that need to be answered in order to move forward.

“Having an independent, unbiased view of how Fibrance can become a design element from such a creative group of industrial design students will influence some aspects of our commercialization efforts,” said Peter Wigley, former business development manager for Fibrance Light-Diffusing Fiber. “Their enthusiasm for the product was really energizing.”

Following the visit and presentation from Bernd and Frank the Fibrance business development team decided to use a decision analysis process to identify the top three projects of interest to Corning. “This may result in further collaboration with TU Delft, but the model – sharing technology with design students for their insight and ideas – worked well for all parties involved,” said Peter.