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JUNE 2007 | ISSUE ELEVEN
Textiles for a sustainable future
For the first time ever, we can link the entire R&D chain for wool and sheep production, from farm to finished product.
Dr Robert Finch, Science & Technology General Manager - Textiles
which may hold the key to keeping UK and European carpets moth and beetle free. which is New Zealand’s only textile IANZaccredited testing service for a myriad of tests including colourfastness and flammability. They not only test but also provide advice about the right tests to do and. the sort of passion you don’t necessarily associate with scientists.nz 3 . The success of our Textiles Group is built on the premise of collaboration and partnership – bringing together the best brains for all stages of the chain. This represents a highly significant breakthrough for UK carpet manufacturers seeking environmentally safe production inputs. their work is grounded in solid science. there’s been a real energy. Together with our clients we’re reaping big benefits from our combined capabilities and knowledge. We can do this by marrying up our processing and technology capability with our ability to map the sheep genome and to modify and differentiate the fibre right back before it leaves the farm gate – this is the most powerful thing we could do in the long-term to bring new economic viability to sheep production. In the apparel industry we’re developing more natural.Partnerships for the future by Dr Robert Finch It’s only a matter of months since AgResearch’s Textiles Group was formed out of the Canesis Network. sheep genetics and protein science. which repels the elements and absorbs and transmits moisture vapour away from the body. This is already leading to big benefits for our organisation and big outcomes for our clients. We recognise that great ideas don’t happen in isolation and collaboration is the most efficient way to meld the best of science and smart technologies to achieve the best possible solutions in the shortest space of time.finch@agresearch. partners or industry. environmentally friendly alternatives to synthetic solutions that marry functionality with the flexibility. Great ideas don’t happen in isolation and collaboration is the most efficient way to meld the best of textile science and smart technologies. This gives us huge credibility internationally. help them interpret the results. and faster. Like all parts of our group. For more information: robert. A good recent example is our innovative research (profiled in this issue) that’s uncovered an ingredient in common household cleaners. demonstrating that while market responsiveness is key. aesthetic and tactile benefits traditionally associated with man-made substances. This collaborative approach means we’re a smart business that delivers. And that’s another prime focus of our work – our quest for environmentally friendly and sustainable textile solutions. A key focus is unearthing practical and pragmatic solutions (based on solid scientific research) for real world issues facing our customers.co. Bringing together AgResearch’s strength in genomics. We do this while maintaining a strong focus on developing and managing IP to maximise return and continued investment. with Canesis’ capability and expertise in post-farm wool processing and bio-based product and process development. A good example of the work we’re doing for farmers is in minimising problems like fly strike on sheep . Vital to getting our technology to market is the work of our Textile & Material Testing Unit. Profiled in this issue of NOW is the Textiles Group scientists’ creation of the first ever natural wool breathable membrane fabric. Throughout the integration period of AgResearch and Canesis. originally Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand (WRONZ). consolidating and amassing key capabilities at every step from wool production to processing and product R &D. This is reflected in the strong history of developing commercially viable technologies. I’m proud of what we’re achieving as a worldleading group in wool science and product and process innovation – I hope that the rest of New Zealand is proud of us too. making AgResearch a very significant research organisation in this field. actively seeking appropriate commercial partners to ensure our technology makes it to market in the best way possible. applicable to the production of carpets or garments. We’ve blended AgResearch’s well-respected history of very good research and strengths in on-farm agricultural systems. enthusiasm and incredible focus amongst our team.we’re using textile developments to create better solutions there as well. There’s a boundless energy for us wanting to create the next big thing. The big upside of this is that we are now creating strategy and developing outcomes which stretch from on-farm right through to the retail shelf itself. One of the prime advantages of this merger is that for the first time ever we’re able to link the entire R &D chain for wool and sheep production. on-farm sustainable systems and textile product development means that we can now address some of the deficiencies in wool. Mimicking nature’s lotus leaf technology. As General Manager of the Textiles Group. equally important is a strong focus on adherence to rigorous testing regimes. at a customer’s request. the superhydrophobic fabric will have significant applications in outdoor clothing.
Imagine a natural wool fabric that both repels and absorbs water .all in an environmentally friendly process. breathable jacket made of wool . Canterbury .wearing a concept windproof. waterproof. Arthurs Pass.
these scientists have the simple yet complex lotus leaf to thank. Azam. Looking to mimic the way those spiders produce that thread is one of the applications of biomimetics.co.today’s synthetic breathable membrane garments don’t actually work that well. To create the fabric Ian. Wool naturally absorbs moisture and breathes. AgResearch’s natural wool. whilst retaining highly desirable aesthetics. windproof. comfortable and dry – it’s essentially water and windproof. ‘Gutters’ have to be inserted into the fabric to let perspiration out because the synthetic material transpires only a very small amount of personal moisture. The water just sits in a ball and runs off the surface of the leaf.thus maintaining the fabric’s breathing properties. absorbs and transmits moisture. In contrast. The success of the yearlong project has hinged on nano-technology and biomimetics . This has enabled very high water repellency attributes to be achieved. To date. none have come up with an all-natural waterproof. “When a droplet of water forms on the lotus leaf it doesn’t wet the leaf at all. and early concept garments have already been produced. who worked in a nano-technology lab in the States before joining AgResearch. high performance natural wool breathable fabrics. the project’s brainchild.together with the problem that fluorocarbons are frequently deployed during manufacturing .nz 5 . the AgResearch fabric is unique because the fabric is made without using synthetic materials.” says Research Leader Dr Ali Azam. but spider silk is quite a bit stronger than any other thread. There are still a couple of technical challenges to overcome and once they are accomplished.Breathing easier with natural technology Mimicking nature’s lotus leaf technology is the key to AgResearch scientists creating the first ever natural wool breathable membrane fabric.” In their creation of new. External water cannot penetrate the fabric yet vapour on the inside can move out of the fabric . page 15) to create a highly functional fabric technology that is comfortable and provides a high level of protection against the worst weather conditions. mattfinish fabric doesn’t leave you in a sweat while keeping you warm.the concept of taking ideas from nature and implementing them in another technology. commercialisation of this new high-tech breathable fabric will be just around the corner. “We know that nature can teach us so much. breathable fabric system that is also water repelling on the outside. which repels. So what’s with the lotus leaf? Ian McFarlane explains. These dual properties make the fabric groundbreaking and. high performance natural wool breathable fabrics. Azam and the team have maximised the natural attributes of wool fibre and combined the fabric’s natural breathability with nano-technology concepts (see story. all in an environmentally friendly production process.mcfarlane@agresearch. although many patents exist. Australian Wool Innovation has been co-investing in this exciting development and they have expressed a great deal of satisfaction with the rapid progress and achievement so far. elaborates. good durability and resistance to wear and tear – all this is helped by the fact that everything happens at a nano-scale level. We don’t know exactly how they make it. “It’s the first really high performance protective fabric to be made from natural products.” says Senior Scientist Ian McFarlane. The AgResearch work also improves on other fabrics as . While some big brand names out there have created breathable membrane garments. “The overall aim has been to create a natural wool fabric that is both able to repel water and transmit water vapour. One example is spiders making silk fibre. In their creation of new. these scientists have the simple yet complex lotus leaf to thank. There’s an awful lot of interest from international manufacturers of outdoor and high performance sportswear. The real challenge has been to develop these highly functional attributes in the fabric. For more information: ian.” AgResearch scientists have mimicked this lotus leaf technology in their specially constructed wool fabric through the implementation of nano-science approaches.
Fabric that’s easy care. lightweight and 100% natural – no wonder the fashion industry is excited! Natural easy care fabric going through the crabbing process in which fabric is flat set by running it (under tension) over cylinders through hot and then cold water to prevent it from shrinking .
Three research innovations have made it all possible. The fabric’s benefits seem endless – in addition to being lightweight. And it’s a giant leap forward – current manufacturing processes typically can only weave two single yarns twisted together. lightweight. For more information: surinder. The inventive technology brings added value to the infinite benefits of wool.co. The fabric weight of a traditional. Nino Cerutti. feels good. including well-known Italian designer and manufacturer. In addition to the shirting fabric. Japan. singles worsted yarn. innovations in the weaving process itself to achieve a tight and compact fabric structure. There are also production benefits – there is no need for chemical shrinkresist treatments to eliminate fabric shrinkage so it’s kinder on the environment and less costly to produce.nz 7 . Potential applications in corporate and fashion clothing manufacture are about to be realised.tandon@agresearch. say Senior Scientist Dr Surinder Tandon and Section Manager Dr Peter Ingham. and it does it much faster than cotton. The project’s funder. Over the past 21 months. has already caught the eye of top European fashionistas. flat finish with exceptionally high dimensional stability and natural stretch. there’s the creation of a fine single yarn with strength and abrasion resistance high enough to take the stresses of weaving. Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) has already established commercial partnerships with companies to produce the fabric in countries including China. and also boasts a UV protection value of 25-50. and is great to wear for all-round comfort. easy care. adaptations to the finishing process to create a softer. This doesn’t. “It’s absolutely fabulous to wear. The fabric is based on pioneering yarn technology that spins wool into a lighter-weight. heavy wool bush shirt is around 300 g/m2 – the new easy care shirting fabric is around 145 g/m2. Cotton when you’re sweaty is hot. secondly. easy care and pure wool. It’s beautifully cool because wool absorbs around 33% moisture before it gets wet on the surface. according to Surinder. the NEC technology is being used for easy care wool trousering (with a slightly denser weave) and suiting products. moisture vapour transport . and drapes and breathes well. Wool fabric has very good Dr Surinder Tandon (right) and Les Duckmanton examine an easy care fabric after crabbing technology. Surinder has been working with manufacturing mills in these countries to fit the specially designed rollers to existing spinning frames and to conduct fabric production trials. dubbed NEC (natural easy care). the unique wool shirting fabric. tends to cling a bit and gets wet. Korea and Mexico. as the new technology satisfies market demand for fabric that’s easy care. pure wool AgResearch-developed fabric that is perfect for business shirts. looks good. creating a fabric that’s too bulky and heavy for lightweight business wear such as shirts. it has natural stretch.Innovative uses for natural easy care fabrics Long summer days at the office will soon be more comfortable thanks to new lightweight. including wellknown Italian designer and manufacturer. Indeed. It’s all part of the technology transfer process that will see the NEC fabrics produced internationally for the apparel industry. whereas cotton only absorbs 12 or 13%. who have testdriven prototype NEC shirts.” It’s easy to illustrate how far the technology has come. making it easy and cost effective for industry to adopt the new The unique wool shirting fabric has caught the eye of top European fashionistas. The singles worsted yarn is created by specially designed rollers that are easily retrofitted to an existing spinning frame. Nino Cerutti. Grooved rollers split the wool strand into micro-yarns comprising tightly interlocked fibres to give the yarn its high abrasion resistance and clean look. Firstly. Sydney-based designer Jayson Brunsdon has also identified potential applications. and thirdly.it absorbs on one side and transports moisture vapour out to the atmosphere on the other.
Harnessing New Zealand bio-materials research talent into a world-class capability. The harakeke plant .
the new CEO of BPN. we surveyed the New Zealand academic and research scene and found very little activity happening in the same direction as we were going. It is also looking at creating a New Zealand bio-resin. So. “BPN allows us to pull together New Zealand bio-materials research talent into a worldclass capability. “When Scion was looking to extend its work on New Zealand natural fibres for biocomposites. “Historically we’ve always partnered with industry. “When the glass fibres are heated they melt and contaminate the energy recovery equipment. Industry links . hemp and linseed) can be mixed with resin to create more environmentally friendly composite products for a raft of industries including interior decor.new ideas come out of new possibilities that are developed together. while at the same time supporting the growth of new sustainable businesses here. The BPN’s pooled expertise is funded by the Foundation for Research.taylor@agresearch. These kinder-to-theenvironment solutions aim to reduce our use of landfills and ultimately make life on earth more sustainable. “We are also working with manufacturing industries that can process the fibres and resins into something useful.” These kinder-to-theenvironment solutions aim to reduce our use of landfills and ultimately make life on earth more sustainable. We saw immediately that AgResearch and Crop & Food Research had some key synergies.” says Murray. Biopolymer Network Ltd (BPN) . When you partner with someone you have to take on their drivers in order to sustain a relationship and develop something that’s useful for them.nz 9 . Dr Claire McGowan. Crop & Food Research and Scion . indeed. says AgResearch Senior Engineer Murray Taylor. AgResearch’s textile capabilities are linked up with the polymer and non-textile fibre (i. who works with Murray on the project. although at this stage the natural fibres are mixed with synthetic resins. AgResearch is teaming up with other concerned organisations to develop a uniquely kiwi approach to the problem. “This is the sort of partnership we actively seek. There is a lot of energy and enthusiasm in the BPN team to grow the biomaterials industry.crucial to BPN’s success have already been established with growers and harvesters. BPN partner Scion agrees that the mix between research and pragmatic industry application is vital. wood) capabilities of Crop & Food Research and Scion.co.Uniquely kiwi approach to environmental concerns As environmental worries around product end-of-life issues grow across the world. has been involved in the development of the New Zealand biotechnology industry for some time.a collaborative powerhouse of kiwi expertise from Crown Research Institutes. “Collaboration is key . in the end they go straight to the landfill that’s about all you can do with them.” Under the BPN umbrella. BPN researchers are seeking to uncover the potential of bio-based reinforcements and resins throughout the production process – from growing products on the land to the finished product and its disposal. Murray and Peter are mindful of the need to create holistic solutions that meet not only the needs of consumers but. we have an opportunity to further develop into an international force in biopolymers and biocomposites. The result is a growing understanding of how natural New Zealand-grown fibres (like harakeke.” BPN is exploring the potential for natural fibres to replace energy-intensive glass fibre reinforcements. which complemented our capabilities very well.e. with a focus on the development of low-cost and environmentally-sound production processes that minimise water and energy use. AgResearch. furnishings and the automotive sector. Biomaterials Engineering at Scion. For more information: murray. Unit Manager. Most conventional composites are made of synthetic resins reinforced with glass fibres and you can’t recover energy from them. A strong commercial imperative is inherent throughout BPN’s R &D process. Science and Technology (FRST).” says Textile Scientist Peter Brorens. the people and companies involved in the entire production process.” says Alan Fernyhough. So. and was attracted to her new role by the opportunities offered through the three organisations’ collaborative approach. By building on our nation’s historical strengths. at the end of the day it’s about creating wealth and doing that through New Zealand industry.is looking at ways to create New Zealand-branded bio-based composite products.
yet is strong enough not to break and can flex many times without becoming fatigued.The search is on for a wire that will behave like a fabric yarn. Prototype of the protective glove intended for use in the meat industry .
you can say ‘well look. where blood vessels in the extremities .” Other applications are a little bit more ‘out there’ . you are getting too close to the blade too often.” The whole project is about blending the tangible benefits of textiles with the latest electronic advances. “In the meat industry. That’s the underlying philosophy behind the field of smart textiles. yet is strong enough not to break and can flex many times without becoming fatigued. for example. There’s also the more down-to-earth creation of a heated sock.collie@agresearch. and result in discoloration of the skin. In a FRST-funded project (Foundation for Research. the most likely practical application is in medicine for the relief of circulatory conditions such as Raynaud’s phenomenon. the rechargeable sock features a basic battery and control system. that sends a message ‘I am hit with a bullet’ and uses a radio frequency ID (RFID) scanning system to transmit information about the location of the incident back to a ship’s bridge. usually in response to cold temperatures and/or emotional stress. The yarn needs to be flexible. The search is on for a wire that will behave like a fabric yarn. Knock off or go and have a break’. Initially. particularly for New Zealand’s food processing industries.nz 11 . Textiles are a very good substrate to build other functionalities onto if you want to collect data about people. which heat up once a current is passed through them. Senior Scientist Ian McFarlane explains. but it all starts with the conductive yarn. says Stewart. The whole project is about blending the tangible benefits of textiles with the latest electronic advances to deliver a product that people want.co. “Everybody interacts with textiles and that is probably the advantage that we have as a platform to deliver things from. a protective glove that warns workers they’re too close to the blade and a conductive vest for navy ship gunners that tells the bridge they’re hit may sound like futuristic TV science fiction. wrapping it in polyester or a non-cut. yet able to carry significant current so that it can be applied to either a heating pad or sensing device. It’s not hard to see that the key to this project’s success is the interaction between electronics and textiles. A different concept from the glove and vest. “There are as many applications as you can think of for fabrics. garments and textiles that can respond to some sort of outside stimuli or be tracked to know where they are. And there are some potentially big applications. You can deliver some kind of benefit to a person via the textile without interfering with what they are doing. Ian McFarlane and technician Maryann van der Werf. using conductive yarns that respond to stimuli and react accordingly. for example.Textiles that talk A heated sock that keeps your feet warm. You can build sensors into the textile and they won’t interfere with how people carry out their normal duties. what they are doing or how healthy they are. a saw turns off. but also the meat industry is required to cover rehabilitation costs. non-stretch material such as ultra-high density polyethylene. If a serious cut happens. but at AgResearch it’s all in a day’s work. While the heated sock could be a popular Father’s Day present. as Maryann explains.like the fingers and toes constrict. The team also experimented with knitting glove fingers out of conductive yarns . developed by Stewart’s team in a project for Australian Wool Innovation.add the circuitry and presto there’s a glove with conductive fingers – so when a worker’s hand gets close to a metal blade. The sock uses yarns with high levels of surface conductivity and others with higher electrical resistance. there’s the personal impact on the worker. scientists Stewart Collie. If there was a glove with a warning light and it’s going off three times in an hour. The crux is the conductive yarn that is communicating with the electrical fields being generated. For more information: stewart.” The present focus of the two-year project is the development of a conductive yarn with textile characteristics that can be put into a garment. the team experimented with assembling extremely fine conductive threads via a braided yarn structure. are delving into the development of smart textiles. Science and Technology). people are working 10-hour shifts cutting up a meat carcass using a massive band knife.a navy ship vest.
Levelling the playing field for wool manufacturers presently being left behind in the contract carpet and upholstery markets. The product of the metal-free dyeing process . environmentally friendly wool .lightfast.
AgResearch’s innovative metal-free dyeing process uses a special class of dye that forms pigments inside the wool fibres. Where there’s a tick we tried them out . Overseas commercialisation partners are also lined up.we just wanted to know it worked. it’s likely that two major European companies will launch the product commercially in mid-2008. so that manufacturers using wool are no longer left behind when those using some synthetics can give a ten-year lightfastness guarantee.” Some industry trials are underway including those that began in Europe in May. or its environmental friendliness . the research moved from laboratory-scale dyeing equipment to the pilot-scale dye house on the Lincoln campus where kilogram lots of wool . considering options and searching the literature. The breakthrough is a metal-free dyeing process for wool carpets . especially those that have traditionally been big for wool.were dyed. “There is demand for more and more stringent controls over the use of heavy metals. The three-year project has captured funding from organisations across three different countries – Meat & Wool New Zealand.co. it has been necessary to use metal-containing dyes that have a very small chromium or cobalt content.” says Ian Cuthbertson from Meat & Wool New Zealand. of carpet and upholstery.instead of gram quantities . looking at how to tackle this industry problem. “As our consumers have increasingly higher standards for the products they buy. “You could say that they haven’t liked doing the lightfastness testing for this project because the samples we’ve created have been very lightfast.developed by AgResearch Senior Scientist Steve McNeil and his team .Metal-free dyeing gets the green tick Manufacturers of woollen carpet and upholstery may be able to access whole new markets thanks to an AgResearch project that is looking to process wool as naturally as possible but make it as colourfast as the best synthetics. AgResearch’s metal-free dyeing team is focused on improving the ‘lightfastness’. Being able to offer that guarantee for wool carpets would level the playing field for wool processors and manufacturers who are presently being left behind in the lucrative contract carpet and upholstery markets. “As part of the R &D process we assigned either a tick or a cross to each of the possible alternatives.” he jokes. To achieve the best possible lightfastness with conventional wool dyes. if not sooner.mcneil@agresearch. All the testing work is being carried out by AgResearch’s Textile & Material Testing Unit. Steve is collaborating with a UK company that makes fabric for the transport industry . AgResearch’s innovative metal-free dyeing process uses a special class of dye that forms pigments inside the wool fibres. This represents good news for the New Zealand wool industry. to achieve significantly higher lightfast qualities than conventional wool dyes. However. Australian Wool Innovation. “The environmental awareness in the international market.just on the beaker scale – at this stage not worrying too much about cost. If the trials continue to go well.” he adds. “One to eight scales are the standards for lightfastness and eight is the best. feasibility.” says Steve. Now. and we are now achieving better than seven.the company is testing some of its own yarn which has been treated with the non-metal dye. particularly in the European Union’s eco-labels is a key driver for this project.which has greatly improved lightfastness and also gets the green tick.” says Steve. We’ve needed to find alternatives to the use of heavy metals in wool dyeing in order to maintain the competitiveness of our wool products in the international marketplace. For more information: steve.” At the scaling up stage. A key target market is likely to be transport upholstery and specialist carpet areas where wool’s excellent flammability performance is a real plus. and the British Wool Marketing Board – who all jointly hold the intellectual property rights. which traditionally have given wool the best yielding and most stable colour. which led to the scaling up. like all AgResearch projects.nz 13 . “The testing staff are pulling their hair out because these samples take so long before they fade – four times as long as usual. like transport and tourism. the metal-free dyeing team went through a number of key stages before they could even begin to take the idea to market. But these dyes can release undesirable cobalt and chromium into the effluent that is discharged by the mill. “We started with the ideas phase. or fade resistance. And then we did the optimising and refining. our testing group is doing more and more stringent tests. We’re well on the way to achieving a more environmentally friendly way of high performance dyeing.
or other functional materials to textiles. and could be used to attach vitamins. . A microscope photo of red dye trapped in a new coating material.AgResearch is leading the way among those looking at how nano-technology can create better textile products. fragrances. The coating makes dye more resistant to sunlight fading.
” Applying nano-technology to the creation of high performance clothing and upholstery is next. the catwalks of our fashion capitals – and beyond. Fabrics that contain viable plant cells are also possible – so not only will you look good.nz 15 . “Everybody wants to be associated with gold.” To keep an eye on the progress of Steve and the team. colourfast colourants on wool fibres for the high-end textiles and fashion market. Lanasan NCF produces a high performance carpet with stronger yarn and more stable pile. with extensive experience in nanomaterials and nano-technology. and clothing that releases vitamins into the skin. Peter’s team. Because they absorb energy. yellow. and clothing that releases vitamins into the skin.so that there’s more friction and the yarns are a lot stronger. too!” Other potential nano-technology-based products include stabresistant fabrics. Jim came up with the novel idea of using gold nano-particles as stable. which increases the fibre friction and blocks dirt. so any molecule will break down in time with sunlight. The nano finish makes the surface of the fibres a little bit more like sandpaper . looking at what we could do to modify and further develop it.ingham@agresearch. but few are focused on textiles. says Dr Peter Ingham. Swiss multinational Clariant.” The marketing benefits of using gold in apparel are already apparent. including Senior Scientist Steve McNeil. “Because we can control these nano-materials at such a fine scale.co.” Peter says. For more information: peter.” Steve adds that gold particles may also. “There are some highly sophisticated nano initiatives in areas like electronics. It’s been a successful development and application of nano-technology to achieve a practical and commercial product that meets market needs. dyed with pure gold. one day. we can get really large effects on textile fibres with only a small amount of material. are in the form of tiny nano-particles. AgResearch scientists were ‘the first cab off the rank’ among those investigating ways in which nano-technology could create better textile products. “We found we could induce a whole range of benefits into the carpet by treating wool with inert nano-particles. and optimising those benefits. with revolutionary results. Professor Jim Johnston is the Director of the Gordon Centre for Applied Chemistry at Victoria University’s School of Chemical and Physical Sciences. Steve assisted with stability tests on early samples and will be involved in collaborative larger-scale development work. such as gold. “Other potential nano-technology-based products include stab-resistant fabrics. This has been about taking an existing nano product. purple. it is possible to produce wool of different colours. look no further than the future carpet beneath your feet. “When certain metals.” Jim says. Ultimately we could see high-end fashion garments in a wide range of colours which are associated with the value of gold. Steve says.” Peter says. you can never get a perfectly lightfast dye . Commercialised with venture partner. developed Lanasan NCF (Nano Carpet Finish). Nano-technology and nano-materials offer the promise of imparting new properties to wool that add further value. some of the chemical bonds break and dyes lose their colour. carrying out some research to determine if we could apply it to wool. The nano-particles attach themselves to individual wool fibres. green and blue colours are possible. which is probably New Zealand’s first ever commercial application of nanotechnology to wool carpets. “Dyes are normally organic molecules. Jim and his graduate students are carrying out laboratory-scale development work at the university and working with Peter on the development and potential market opportunities. Red. and there is interest from high-end fashion houses.but not perceptible to the touch . Textiles Science & Technology Section Manager. “The actual colour reflected depends critically on the particle size and shape. In 2005.but because of gold’s inert properties. gold-dyed fibres would have a very high colourfastness. then finding a whole range of benefits. solve the problem of fading carpets. By controlling these parameters and developing ways to firmly bind the nano-particles onto the fibre surface. they interact differently with light. but you’ll be taking care of the environment. A nano-particle is less than one thousand millionth of a metre in size and can’t be seen even under a light microscope since it can be smaller than the wavelength of light.A little goes a long way The nano world is taking science by storm. Scientists around the world are learning how to manipulate these nanoparticles. and AgResearch textile scientists are tapping into this universe of miniscule particles to create high performance textiles with big potential for the carpet and fashion industries. So.
Intimate apparel is one intended use for the ‘next to skin’ fabric . finer merino ‘next to skin’ wear – and it’s sure to break new boundaries in the apparel industry.It’s a whole new generation of softer.
and the fabrics we’re exploring also have good stretch and recovery. The Textiles Science & Technology section is assessing the yarn’s performance and developing it into fabrics and garments that will bring new consumer propositions in the future. active wear. silk and lycra. AgResearch scientists Ian McFarlane Dr Surinder Tandon and technician Maryann van der Werf. Creating a merino wool fabric that has superior fineness opens up many more options around how the fabric can be used. The fabric performs better. are exploring whether a super-fine merino wool yarn can be harnessed to produce a range of woven and knitted fabrics that look sure to break new boundaries in the apparel industry.and that this demand is increasing by approximately 6% per annum. fibre blends or design.co. including fine gauge high performance sporting underwear. testing fabric combinations with fibres such as cotton. It’s finer than we’ve ever been able to go before . one of New Zealand’s most traditional exports. and looking at the impact different finishing processes could have on the final product.Goodbye prickly wool.” says Ian. chemical finishes for improved functionality. it’s a winner because of its softness (it’s not prickly to wear). “It’s a lot. wool underwear in the past has been fairly coarse. For example. The new yarn opens the door to make fabrics with intricate pattern effects.with its highly sought after consumer attributes it’s going to have a tremendous impact on the knitwear and woven garment markets. It also has better durability. Nathan says AWI recognises the potential for the yarn to take wool fibre into markets where it hasn’t been able to go before. enhanced comfort and outdoor performance properties. and it also has the capacity to absorb moisture (the wool fibre absorbs water vapour from perspiration) and impart warmth. The new developments tie in nicely with the trend towards producing seamless garments for greater comfort.” A fabric with the unique benefits of wool and the softness and texture of cotton – indications are that its uses will be many in both woven and knitted apparel. “As a base layer beside the skin. lot finer. making fabrics that have great qualities such as its super-lightweight. There are also likely to be applications in socks and other accessories such as shawls. Ian says. Dr Nathan Ly. incredible fineness. “The new yarn has been an excellent and exciting development. We are very pleased with it. Figures indicate that the merino fine wool next to skin apparel industry uses around 65 million kilograms of fine wool annually . Other aspects of the research are looking at wool colouration (improving the ability to dye wool to bright colours). be it fabric constructions or firstname.lastname@example.org 17 . hello high fashion! AgResearch scientists are bringing to market revolutionary new ‘next to skin’ wear created from fine merino wool. important attributes for meeting increased consumer comfort expectations. and fashion formal wear. acknowledging every angle’s potential. sportswear. “Our research shows that fabric made from this yarn is very price competitive to manufacture and garment production efficiencies are better than with previous yarns. including fancy printing (such as Devoré screen printing on intimate and fashion apparel) on very fine wool seamless garments. They’ve secured funding from Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) to develop a whole new generation of softer. intimate apparel. finer merino ‘next to skin’ wear – and are discovering new takes on wool. giving better warmth for weight. It’s quick drying when you wash it because the fibres are spaced out more than other merino fabrics. but we can go a great deal finer.” says AWI Senior Programme Manager for R &D. AgResearch scientists say they’ve tackled the fine wool industry with a fresh approach. For more information: surinder.
An innovative product with the potential to help keep some European carpet manufacturers internationally competitive. Anthrenus Verbasci Carpet Beetle with three larvae .
nz 19 . Peter says. For more information: peter. which presently face prohibitive environmental restrictions. which has a low environmental impact on waterways and is effective in producing insect resistant carpets. the research that’s looking at developing a long-term non-insecticidal solution is important for maintaining the carpet industry’s international competitiveness into the future.ingham@agresearch. This means that it’s not necessary to put twice as much on to allow for losses over 10 or 15 years. it not only kills these insects – it’s also toxic to aquatic invertebrates in rivers. The project has largely been funded by Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand (WRONZ). The whole approach to carpet protection is quite different. without the same harmful effects. Peter says that while there are millions and millions of insects. where the carpet industry is eagerly seeking innovative environmentally safe production inputs.co. only about three moth and three beetle species have developed the ability to digest wool and keratin and. The targeted products under development at AgResearch are likely to have big spin-offs for the UK and European carpet industries.” AgResearch Textiles Science & Technology Section Manager Dr Peter Ingham explains that it’s getting to the point where some European factories cannot treat carpets and big fines are being handed out. “I think. “In an inland UK town. but initially.” The industry has traditionally used permethrin. We have traditionally always tried to generate commercial products and so to me. and they must keep the concentration in the river to 10 times less than the no-effect level by law. Potential markets have already been identified and it’s expected that the new product will have good uptake in the UK and Europe. there are good results. R &D Portfolio Manager for WRONZ. Initially. from our point of view. the intellectual property rights holders. The discovery by AgResearch Scientist Matthew Sunderland that two alternative products (one of them a component in fairly common household cleaners) protect wool from damage by insects offers an environmentally friendly alternative. in carpet production. when we test a new insect resist agent. Matthew’s two readily biodegradable products achieve what permethrin does.” says Ian Cuthbertson. to overcome these kinds of issues. their latest and unique solution is not even an insecticide. tests are still to be done to ensure the products’ fastness to shampooing and light. to control insects that feed on wool but it doesn’t meet some international effluent discharge standards. There have also been resistance issues with permethrin and increasing amounts have to be used. when they are commercially launched. While an industrial trial is close at hand. Typically we lose half the agent in that time because we’re using insecticides.” We’ve needed to find an environmentally acceptable wool treatment solution that the market is happy about.” “We’ve also found that these two products act as an excellent dye bath levelling agent – so it’s a dual-purpose thing. which are designed to break down. They don’t kill the insects but they do protect carpet wool from being eaten by insects. However. But we’ve found this new material has virtually no losses because it’s not designed to break down in light. one of the most fulfilling things is seeing something go through to market.” Matthew comments. a broad-spectrum insecticide. It’s a totally different type of molecule and it readily binds onto wool. maybe eight carpet mills are all discharging into the one sewage treatment works. who approached AgResearch for ideas and solutions. “In particular. like a dye. we put it through three shampooings and a lightfastness exposure. “Normally. permethrin has been used to control them. We’ve needed to find an environmentally acceptable wool treatment solution that the market is happy about and that also fully solves the problem of insect resistance. which treats the effluent and discharges it into the river. AgResearch scientists used a new generation of insecticide branded as Mystox CMP by commercialisation partner Catomance Technologies Ltd. It’s also likely that the product may have applications in the apparel industry . “The reason WRONZ funded this project is because of the unique problem of wool fibre being attacked by certain moths and beetles and the environmental issues that some solutions exacerbate. affecting the growth of insects that fish feed on . that’s the most satisfying part. for example.the first stage of river life in the ecological chain. The trouble is.in the manufacture of men’s suits.AgResearch beats carpet bugbear An ingredient found in common household cleaners may hold the key to keeping UK and European carpets moth and beetle free – thanks to innovative AgResearch technology.
nz .AgResearch Ruakura Ruakura Research Centre East Street Private Bag 3123 Hamilton 3240 Phone +64 7 856 2836 Fax +64 7 838 5012 AgResearch Grasslands and Hopkirk Research Institute Grasslands Research Centre Tennent Drive Private Bag 11008 Palmerston North 4442 Phone +64 6 356 8019 Fax +64 6 351 8032 [Hopkirk: Phone +64 6 351 8600 Fax +64 6 353 7853] AgResearch Lincoln Cnr Springs Road & Gerald Street Private Bag 4749 Christchurch 8140 Phone +64 3 321 8800 Fax +64 3 321 8811 AgResearch Invermay Invermay Agricultural Centre Puddle Alley Private Bag 50034 Mosgiel 9053 Phone +64 3 489 3809 Fax +64 3 489 3739 AgResearch Wallaceville Wallaceville Animal Research Centre Ward Street PO Box 40063 Upper Hutt 5140 Phone +64 4 529 0300 Fax +64 4 529 0380 www.co.agresearch.
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