Specialty Fabrics Review August 2022 - 10

[ BRIEFS ] swatches
Using AI to sort and
recycle garments
S
ometimes it takes an outsider to see a
problem and realize a solution. While
studying for her Master of Science in
ABOVE: It may look
like hair, but it is Refiberd's
first successful spool of
thread made from 100%
discarded clothing. It
is sewable, usable and
completely recyclable.
MIDDLE: An assortment
of threads made from
recycled garments.
BOTTOM: Refiberd
founders Mingyue (Ida)
Wang, Sarika Bajaj and
Tushita Gupta.
Photos: Refiberd
Technology Ventures at Carnegie Mellon
University, in Pittsburgh, Pa., Sarika Bajaj says
she was accidentally put on Intel's experimental
fashion team. There she learned that textile
sorting and recycling were usually developed as
segregated processes with companies specializing
in one or the other. " That's when I was introduced
to this world of textiles and when I realized what
could be done with the help of robotics. "
Her solution was to create Refiberd, a
sorting and recycling system that uses artificial
intelligence (AI) and robotics to turn postconsumer
textile waste into thread.
Created with two cofounders-Tushita Gupta
and Mingyue (Ida) Wang-Refiberd's system " has
the potential to eventually eliminate 93% of global
textile waste, " the company claims.
Once the garments have been collected, they
are subjected to the sorting process. First, they are
sorted by color to retain as much dye as possible,
and then they are shredded. This step eliminates
the problem of garments comprising multiple
layers, which cannot be easily sorted by sensors.
The final phase is to sort the shredded material by
fiber type, which is where AI gets to work.
" Here we use spectroscopy, " Bajaj says. " You
shine a light on the material and that light reflects
back, producing a graph of how it interacted
with the material. Using spectroscopy alone
doesn't always correctly diagnose the material,
but AI comes in handy because it can learn from
the different graphs and approximate what the
material is. "
Once the material has been sorted, it
undergoes Refiberd's patented chemical
recycling procedure. So far, this is compatible
with recycling polyester and cellulosics, and the
company creates polyester and cellulose thread,
which is compatible with existing manufacturing
techniques to make new garments.
10 SPECIALTY FABRICS REVIEW / August 2022

Specialty Fabrics Review August 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Specialty Fabrics Review August 2022

Specialty Fabrics Review August 2022 - Cover1
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2022 - Cover2
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2022 - 1
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2022 - 2
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2022 - 3
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2022 - 4
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2022 - 5
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Specialty Fabrics Review August 2022 - 18
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2022 - 19
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2022 - 20
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2022 - 21
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Specialty Fabrics Review August 2022 - Cover3
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