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  • Innovative wool textiles developed at AgResearch in Christchurch are meeting consumer demand for more functional fabrics and creating new opportunities for textile products.

    Consumer demand and new technology drives wool innovation

    Changing consumer needs and lifestyles are driving demand for new fabrics that are lightweight, comfortable and easy to care for. The increasing range and functionality of synthetic fabrics has been meeting this consumer need and presenting a challenge for wool researchers.

    Developments in spinning technology and fabric construction together with growing understanding of wool’s structure have helped researchers respond to the challenge, and now a variety of innovative wool textiles are meeting consumer demand.

    Find out more about changes the structure of wool yarn during the spinning process in this video, How Solospun™ works. Developments include Natural Easy Care (NEC) wool and a new stab and flame-resistant fabric.

    Natural Easy Care (NEC) wool fabric

    Made from fine Merino wool, Natural Easy Care fabrics (NEC) fabric has enhanced comfort properties and is lightweight and easy to care for at home – it can be machine washed, tumble dried and needs very little ironing. It’s being used for business shirts, suits, women’s wear and even bed sheets and nightwear.

    Find out more about Developing Natural Easy Care fabrics.

    Testing new easy care fabric performance

    Standard testing using Woolmark Company specifications was an integral part of the fabric development. As AgResearch transfer the technology to commercial factories, they continue to test samples of the final fabric for quality control. Tests include shrink resistance, abrasion and pilling resistance and tensile strength.

    Watch this video to find out more about testing Natural Easy Care fabrics.

    Comfort and protection: new stab and flame-resistant fabric

    Traditional stab and flame-resistant fabric is heavy, inflexible and uncomfortable to wear. Scientists have overcome this problem by incorporating wool into a unique new fabric structure. Wool’s properties improve the flame protection and make the fabric breathable and absorbent so it’s comfortable to wear.

    The new fabric looks and feels like regular wool jacket fabric and is comfortable to wear all day for normal daily tasks. Scientists recognise its potential for new market opportunities in protective clothing.

    These articles, New stab and flame-resistant fabri and Wool fibre properties, give more information about this innovative fabric.

    New technology sparks idea for new stab and flame-resistant fabric

    The idea for the new protective fabric came when AgResearch purchased a new type of machine – a Fibreknit machine. Scientists combined their knowledge of wool with the potential of the new machine and began experimenting with new fibre combinations.

    After testing the performance of initial fabric samples, scientists recognised that it offered opportunities for protection in a wide range of situations where traditional protective garments wouldn’t be worn.

    Growing market interest

    Promotion of the new fabric and evidence of its performance have sparked market interest. Deciding on end uses and scaling up production are dependent on commercial partnerships being established.

    Find out about the research and development behind this new stab and flame-resistant material, in this article, Developing new stab and flame-resistant fabric.

    Useful links

    For more on wool research in New Zealand, see these websites below:

      Published 4 June 2010 Referencing Hub articles
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