Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 51

COVID-19, yet essential workers have not
had an adequate supply in many areas of the
country. One reason for that is the machining
and precision required to make the fabric; the
machines that create meltblown fabrics are
expensive, complex and take months to build.
Bridges and Benisch have looked to
the natural world, which is full of filters,
membranes and woven barriers that are ready
to be utilized or mimicked. To prove just how
accessible these materials are, they decided to
grow their own bacterial cellulose face mask
in their home kitchen, while working on
ways that this prototype could be iterated to
function like meltblown N95 fabric.
Bacterial cellulose is created by common
bacteria called Acetobacter xylinum on the
surface of a liquid they inhabit. The bacteria
and their cellulose craftwork can be grown
with as little as water, tea, sugar and a small
sample to feed and let flourish. As the bacteria
multiply, they knit cellulose fibers into a single
membrane that can be harvested and dried as
a workable material. Though it is translucent
and smooth to the human eye, microscopic
images show the tight web of cellulose fibers
that make up this natural knit.
Once the material is thick enough, it can
be removed and hung to dry as a flat sheet
that's flexible and strong, but easily degrades
into the environment. It can be waterproofed
and oiled with natural ingredients to have
the softness and strength of thin leather. The
entire process takes approximately two weeks.
With multiple batches staggered in time, the
designers suggest that the production of this
material could be scaled up quickly.
In these few examples we see how
weaving can be sandwiched with foam in
new ways, how flexible electronics and wound
dressings can benefit one another without
full integration, how a new laser welding
technique can open up opportunities for
textile structures, and how an idea literally
cooked up in a home kitchen can all supply
creative pathways forward. They also teach
us how solutions are frequently found in the
details and in the vision of the creators.

Visit Abrusci Interior & Exterior Solutions at EXPO 2020 * Booth 954

Marie O'Mahony is an industry consultant, author and
academic based in Toronto, Ont., Canada. She is the
author of several books on advanced and smart textiles
published by Thames and Hudson and is a visiting
professor at the Royal College of Art (RCA), London.

Visit Covin Sales & Converting at EXPO 2020* Booth 1435
www.SpecialtyFabricsReview.com 51

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7/21/20 4:49 PM


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Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020

Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - Cover1
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - Cover2
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 1
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 2
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 3
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 4
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 5
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 6
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 7
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 8
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 9
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 10
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 11
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 12
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 13
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 14
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Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 16
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 17
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 18
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 19
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 20
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 21
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Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 25
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 26
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 27
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 28
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 29
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