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History of DEK

By “colour fastness” we understand in general terms the capacity of dyed and printed fabrics to withstand the rigours of the production processing and of wear and tear in use. Thus the colour fastness will be influenced on the one hand by the methods used in the dyeing and printing processes and on the other hand on the dyes that are used.

Particularly in the course of the very stormy development of synthetic dyes in the last half of the 19th and in the 20th centuries it became necessary to develop reproducible tests to compare the properties of the various products from one another and especially from the natural product which had been exclusively used up until that time.

As a consequence, in 1911, under prompting from the German Chemical Society ( Verein Deutscher Chemiker) the Deutsche Echtheitskommission was formed with the purpose to develop investigation procedures. The commission had representatives from the textile and dye manufacturing industries as well as from the universities. The first chairman was Geheimrat  (Privy Councillor) Dr A Lehne, the secretary was Prof Dr Paul Krais, whose name deserves particular mention in connection with ideas as to fastness. 
(v. Hornuff: "50 Jahre Farbechtheitsprüfung 1911 - 1961",
Melliand Textilberichte 43/1962/S.374-378).

Even in those early times the commission developed tests in which the results of dying of cotton, wool and silk with regard to the change of colour depth and the staining of adjacent fabrics could be compared and evaluated against tests dyed fabrics. Even at that time the results were presented in the same 5 scale range used today.

Up to the Second World War with the development of new fabrics for example Acetate and Viscose completely new test procedures had to be developed.

Following the chaos of the war years the Deutsche Echtheitkommision was re-established in 1949 under the chairmanship of Prof. Dr. W. Weltzien as the “Arbeitsgruppe C9a des Fachnormenauschuss für Materialprüfung und Technik” and incorporated into the Deutsche Institut für Normung (DIN).

Running parallel to this was the increasing relationships with the newly formed interest groups in other European countries. Of particular mention is the collaboration with the French and Swiss fastness committees resulting in the formation of the Continental Europe Fastness convention (“Europäische Continentale Echtheitskonvention (ECE)) . The ECE smoothed the way to the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

In 1951 a new method of independent judgement was introduced to replace the older method of comparison of dying of test samples. This so called grey scale method is still the universal mean for the visual evaluation of all fastness test results.

Although the different test methods developed in the „foundation years“ have regularly undergone changes, in principle they remain relevant to the current standards which through technical advances and changes in customer demands have only changed a little.

Right from the foundation of the Deutsche Echtheitskommission, the guideline was that all tests should be as uncomplicated as possible and able to be carried out without the use of large and complicated apparatus so that a large as possible group of interest groups could make use of the standardised procedures. The massive development and specialisation of finishing of textiles and customer demands and not least in these fast moving times has forced certain compromises. Thus for example, artificial light sources are used for the determination of light fastness in order to get rapid results. Also modern washing procedures have required that special heating apparatus be used to provide a controlled heating rate in the washing fastness tests.

At the present moment there is a trend - even at the international level - to use spectroscopic instrumental methods instead of the older visual methods using the 5 step grey scales to evaluate test results. This gives, particular for inexperienced evaluators, a certain certainty. It remains to be seen how far these instrumental procedures will become the exclusive method for colour fastness testing, particularly as it is in contradiction to the original aims of the founders of the DEK to use simple methods without large complicated apparatus.

The problem of fastness testing is already a relatively old theme which is incessantly in a state of flux because it requires constant updating and adaptation to the current conditions.

Text: Dr. Günter Kratz, Bielefeld

Towards the end of the 1990’s the President Dr. Wolfgang Schiller, and the Managing Director Dipl. Ing. Ulrich Kraemer invested heavily to modernise the DEK. The production of auxiliary products was reorganised. In 2008 the storage and sale of these products was begun from the new business quarters in Erding.

On the basis of these actions the fastness testing of coloured textiles could be more intensively supported as a consequence of the national and international work on standards.

With the wave of certification and accreditation of manufactures and institutes the responsibility of DEK grew significantly for the sales of standardised auxiliary materials and brought with it a considerable increase in honorary activity on the part of the members of DEK.

International developments led, in 2008, to the formation of the Deutsche Echteitskommission e.V. as an independent non profit organisation. From its foundation in 1911 DEK had been a non independent association under the DIN. The close connection of DEK e.V. to the DIN e.V. is regulated by contract and remains in place through the Standards Committee DIN NA 062-05-11-AA.

In December 2009 the Deutsche Echeitskommission DEK GmbH was founded and split from DEK e.V. in 2010. DEK GmbH now is responsible for the commercial sales of auxiliary materials. Mr. Ulrich Kraemer was appointed managing director of DEK GmbH.

Text: U. Kraemer / Sept. 2010


Thanks to the dedicated work of the President of DEK e.V., Dr. Wolfgang Schiller, and the Managing Director of DEK e.V. and DEK GmbH, Mr. Ulrich Kraemer (Dipl.-Ing.), both DEK e.V. – but above all DEK GmbH – developed successfully in the years that followed, such that both the GmbH and e.V. find themselves on a solid financial footing.

2016 marked a watershed moment in two respects. After more than 20 years as President of DEK e.V., Dr. Schiller did not run for re-election in the General Meeting due to his age. In recognition of his achievements and commitment, he was unanimously appointed honorary member for life. At the 86th annual meeting in Berlin in September 2016, the General Meeting elected Mr. Alexander Dietel (Dipl.-Ing.) as his successor.

As a result of Ulrich Kraemer falling seriously ill in spring 2016, for legal reasons it became necessary to appoint a second managing director for DEK GmbH as a matter of urgency. In May 2016, Andreas Metzger (Dipl.-Ing.) was appointed to this position.

To the regret of all members of DEK, Ulrich Kraemer’s illness was so severe that he resigned from both the office of Managing Director of DEK e.V. and from the office of Managing Director of DEK GmbH in August 2016 after more than twenty years of successful service. In recognition of his services to DEK e.V. and DEK GmbH, he too was appointed honorary member for life in absentia by the General Meeting in September 2016.

Despite all medical intervention and his irrepressible will to live, Ulrich Kraemer passed away in May 2017, shortly before his 70th birthday.

Since then, Andreas Metzger has been managing the business affairs of DEK e.V. and DEK GmbH as the sole managing director.

In 2018, renovation work was carried out at the office in Erding to facilitate the smooth running of business operations and to improve working conditions for the staff. In addition, a number of projects were implemented to improve the profile of the e.V. and GmbH and their external image.

Due to increasingly deteriorating conditions at the Erding site and the foreseeable expiration of the lease at the end of 2021, the shareholders' meeting passed a resolution in August 2020 to relocate the headquarters and business operations of DEK GmbH to Troisdorf. In November 2020, the General Meeting of DEK e.V. also resolved to relocate the registered office and business activities of DEK e.V.

Due to the COVID pandemic, the move would not be completed until April 2021, but business operations were running again smoothly just one week later.

One of the greatest challenges of our time for DEK is to ensure and prove the conformity of our products to standards, and the traceability of the results thus obtained.

The national accreditation body DAkkS has significantly tightened the requirements regarding metrological traceability in accreditation procedures. This has direct and far-reaching implications for DEK as a manufacturer of important testing equipment and reference materials. This concerns both the higher costs for production and the verification of conformity to standards, as well as the administrative work involved in seamless verification and certification.

DEK has therefore invested heavily in appropriate testing equipment and software and considers itself well equipped to successfully handle the tasks and challenges ahead, both in the 111th year of its existence and beyond.

Text: A. Metzger / November 2022

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