Tech transforming textile manufacturing

Tuesday, 02 July, 2019

Tech transforming textile manufacturing

A $3.4 million research and development project is aiming to upscale manufacturing of a newly developed advanced coating technology for textiles. The atmospheric plasma coating system — developed by researchers from Deakin University Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) and textile technology company Xefco — is set to improve durability and reduce energy, water and chemical consumption during the manufacturing process.

Co-funded by the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), the next stage of the three-year Atmospheric Plasma Coating System project involves IFM and Xefco collaborating with engineering equipment specialists Proficiency Contracting to shift the technology from a lab-scale operation to a commercially viable textile coating system.

Project leader and IFM Senior Research Fellow in Plasma Dr Weiwei Lei said that the team was looking forward to taking the technology to the next level.

“What we’ve managed to develop is a coating system that reduces the costs and complexities of existing equipment used to apply coatings, such as those that make textiles water-repellent, absorbent, flame-retardant or odour-free,” Dr Lei said.

“Thanks to support from our partners and IMCRC, we will now aim to improve and optimise the functional coating process to get this lab-scale technology ready for production testing at a textile mill and global commercial use by 2021.”

The system will be developed, tested and manufactured in Australia, with Xefco tapping into a local network of manufacturers to establish a supply chain that provides local manufacturers with new opportunities in the sector.

Xefco CEO Thomas Hussey said the technologies will bring much needed change to the textile processing industry by elevating performance and reducing the environmental footprint of a traditionally unsustainable sector.

The partnership with the IMCRC, Deakin and Proficiency Contracting is a major step forward for the development of innovative technologies for the global textile industry. The project amalgamates a broad spectrum of scientific and engineering expertise together with the required resources to rapidly elevate the technology to commercial readiness.

IMCRC CEO and Managing Director David Chuter said the project was a great example of how research-led innovation had the potential to disrupt and transform the textile manufacturing and processing industry, not just in Australia, but globally.

“Over the past decade there have been significant developments in the application technologies, machinery and processes for textile coating that have enhanced and extended the range of functional performance of textiles,” he explained.

“The next decade will be about innovative textile manufacturing technologies and processes that are environmentally friendly and resource-efficient. The novel atmospheric plasma system that Xefco and IFM are developing will set the path for the future viability of the industry.”

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