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Home / News / Drexel sets up centre to research functional textiles

Drexel sets up centre to research functional textiles

Oct '19
Pic: Drexel University
Pic: Drexel University
Drexel University has set up a new centre for innovation and discovery in the area of functional textiles. The Centre for Functional Fabrics which includes the Pennsylvania Fabric Discovery Centre, is a joint endeavour funded by federal and state government organisations to support the creation and advanced manufacturing of innovative textile technology.

“This is a place to engage, collaborate and lead innovation in the field of advanced manufacturing of functional fabrics,” said president John Fry at the opening ceremony of the centre. “Ten thousand feet in the heart of our campus, it demonstrates the larger vision that our university has for University City. It’s located in Schuylkill Yards, an innovation district where researchers and startups and companies are coming together to create and grow Philadelphia’s economy.”

The manufacturing portion of the state-of-the-art centre features a main equipment room outfitted for flat and circular weft knitting, warp knitting, weaving and yarn customisation. The centre also includes spaces for digital design and programming, systems integration and assembly, yarn and textile testing, finishing, dyeing and climate-controlled archival storage.

Mayor Jim Kenney said uses for functional fabrics being explored at Drexel — from the smart fabric bellyband which monitors contractions and breathing in pregnant mothers to fabrics being developed to protect, monitor and communicate with soldiers and other emergency personnel — are amazing, and will help put Philadelphia back on the map as a leader in advanced textile manufacturing.

“It is fitting that this new centre is located in Schuylkill Yards, an area known for innovation, expanding upon Pennsylvania’s already rich textile industry,” Kenney said. “Advanced textiles will change the way we create clothing, furniture and more, beyond the scope of what’s already been done.”

The Centre for Functional Fabrics expansion includes the Pennsylvania Fabric Discovery Centre, which was created to support Drexel’s role as the regional leader of Advanced Functional Fabrics of America’s network of fabric discovery centres. The PA FDC engages, collaborates and innovates with government, companies and entrepreneurs taking advanced-textile ideas from concept to prototype to scalable products. These facilities will also prepare America’s workforce for jobs in this growing sector through education and training.

With the support of $1.5 million from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Drexel was able to expand its state-of-the-art prototyping facility, which now includes seven Shima Seiki flat weft-bed knitting machines, two circular weft-bed knitting machines, a Comez warp knitting machine, a CCI Tech weaving suite and a variety of yarn-twisting machines. The centre also has a number of advanced design and production capabilities, such as a 3D body scanner, an ultrasonic sewing machine, a seam sealer, textile testing machines and advanced sewing machines.

Neil Weaver, the executive deputy secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, said the state’s funding of the centre’s modern machinery and technology was aimed at accelerating the growth of advanced fibres and functional fabrics in the defence and commercial markets, and that Drexel is at the helm of these initiatives.

“This centre will put our Commonwealth on the forefront of developing innovative and advanced functional fabrics, will create 21st century jobs, and push our economy forward,” Weaver said.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (SV)

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