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Wool innovations

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. Developments include Natural Easy Care (NEC) wool and a new stab and flame-resistant fabric.

Get video: How Solospun™ works

Natural Easy Care (NEC) wool fabric

Made from fine Merino wool, 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.

Get information sheet: Natural Easy Care fabrics

Get information sheet: 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.

Get information sheet: 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.

Get information sheet: New stab and flame-resistant fabric

Get information sheet: Wool fibre properties

Get video: Advantages of new stab and flame-resistant 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.

Get information sheet: Developing new stab and flame-resistant fabric

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