Specialty Fabrics Review December 2021 - 28

2021 | BACK TO BUSINESS
ADVANCED TEXTILES
The collaborative approach
Creating a pathway to successful commercialization of new textile technologies.
T
he plenary luncheon session at IFAI Expo's Advanced Textiles Conference brought
together a panel of speakers united in a single message about the importance of
collaboration in advancing textile manufacturing. Rhode Island's textile industry provided
the success story example.
Moderator Michael Woody, CEO, Trans-Tex LLC, Cranston, R.I., noted components
necessary in this effort. Textile companies had been hesitant for fear of " tipping their
hand " to a competitor. Breaking down the " silos " and getting people to cooperate was
an important step, and the geographic proximity in Rhode Island helped in this regard.
Government and political support is also critical, he said, as well as the involvement of
colleges and universities.
Clare King, president of Propel LLC, Pawtucket, R.I., said, " The textile industry was
exhausted. " The Rhode Island Textile Innovation Network (RITIN) rejuvenated the
industry there and was so successful that it's received attention across the country.
Mary Johnson, 401 Tech Bridge manager, said one initiative by this economic
development organization based in Portsmouth, R.I., addressed the state textile industry's
aging workforce by identifying those close to retirement so a company could prepare
in advance. It also helped companies hire replacement staff and connect with younger
workers. " There's a generation that doesn't know about manufacturing, so there was
an effort to show where the opportunities are. "
Scaling up manufacturing
Collaboration was a theme in many sessions, emphasizing the need for greater
partnering among industry, academia and government participants. This is keenly
felt among e-textile product developers.
" We still have the post-development valley of death, " said Propel LLC's Clare King.
Her company has been developing new smart products for about a decade. " It's the
gap in the transition [from prototype] to scaling up into making thousands, " she says.
" The most brilliant work is coming from startups, but their investors don't want to
pay for the manufacturing. "
Large-scale manufacturing, however, requires the proper equipment and costs a lot
of money, even as much as a $1 million. " It's a long pipeline and a huge investment, "
says Stephanie Rodgers, Apex Mills. " Maybe a startup has $10,000 to try something out. "
But it's not just the money. It's having the equipment that will do the job and having
a partner willing to dedicate expensive equipment and time to creating a solution.
That's the mission of the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), a
public/private partnership led by MIT.
In his presentation, CEO Sasha Stolyarov pointed out AFFOA successes in helping
startups pursue manufacturing in the U.S. and getting those products to market. What
most startups need, he said, is pilot-scale machinery, rather than the lab scale that produced
a prototype, or on the other end of the spectrum, full commercial production equipment.
28 SPECIALTY FABRICS REVIEW / December 2021
A soft, inflatable robotic hand is capable
of grasping an item with accuracy without
damaging it. Photo: Ryzing Technologies.
Deployable
inflatable robotics
I
n his presentation,
Ryan Gundling, CEO and
lead engineer at Ryzing
Technologies LLC showed
how sophisticated, soft robotic
structures can use inflatable
technology to overcome
a range of challenges.
The added dimension of
dynamic capabilities takes
this technology to quite
another level.
Gundling's company
has developed inflatable
components that can be
interfaced with mechanical
parts to form a unique end
product, designed and built
for a specific use, such
as in military operations,
for automated systems in
industrial environments,
robotics for maintenance
projects and other systems
that function autonomously.
Soft, inflatable technology
can be an integral part of a
tunneling " worm " in a search
and rescue situation, where a
person could not possibly go,
or in a robotic hand that can
pick up an item with precision.
Although the company
has not yet integrated smart
fabrics in their projects,
Gundling says, " We've thought
about it. That's definitely the
next step for us. "

Specialty Fabrics Review December 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Specialty Fabrics Review December 2021

Specialty Fabrics Review December 2021 - Cover1
Specialty Fabrics Review December 2021 - Cover2
Specialty Fabrics Review December 2021 - 1
Specialty Fabrics Review December 2021 - 2
Specialty Fabrics Review December 2021 - 3
Specialty Fabrics Review December 2021 - 4
Specialty Fabrics Review December 2021 - 5
Specialty Fabrics Review December 2021 - 6
Specialty Fabrics Review December 2021 - 7
Specialty Fabrics Review December 2021 - 8
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Specialty Fabrics Review December 2021 - 11
Specialty Fabrics Review December 2021 - 12
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Specialty Fabrics Review December 2021 - cover3
Specialty Fabrics Review December 2021 - cover4
Specialty Fabrics Review December 2021 - WTS Postcard1
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