Leaders from the fabric and textile industry will join researchers and military officials in Athens Oct. 20 to discuss the future of the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America partnership as part of the inaugural AFFOA Industry Day.
AFFOA, a public-private partnership launched this spring and funded in part by a $75 million commitment from the U.S. Department of Defense, seeks to accelerate innovation involving fibers and textiles through advances in manufacturing and engineering.
UGA is hosting the event in partnership with Clemson University. Fellow Southeastern Conference schools Tennessee and Kentucky, among others, also will participate.
Among the many companies planning to participate are Kimberly-Clark Corp., Oxford Industries, and Brrr!, a company co-founded by UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences graduate Tosha Hays that produces cooling fabrics.
“We’re joining with companies large and small, universities and startup incubators from around the U.S. to drive a manufacturing-based revolution by transforming traditional fibers, yarns and fabrics into highly sophisticated systems and devices for both consumer and defense applications,” said Gajanan Bhat, the UGA Athletic Association Professor of Fibers and Textiles within the FACS textiles, merchandising and interiors department.
Members of the AFFOA partnership include Fortune 500 companies as well as small- and medium-sized companies spanning the electronics, materials, apparel, transportation, fashion, defense, medical and consumer good manufacturing sectors.
It also includes leaders of the fabric industry, such as Inman Mills, and leading research universities MIT, Cornell University, Drexel University, the University of Michigan, the University of California-Davis and the University of Texas at Austin.
Among the speakers who will address the group is Ramanathan Nagarajan, a senior research scientist with the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, who will discuss emerging textile material needs for the Department of Defense.
Industry Day also will include interactive sessions on emerging market trends and the formation of a Fabric Innovation Network to rapidly move innovations from prototype to pilot production.
Researchers from UGA and Clemson also will provide an overview of the latest developments in fiber science and engineering in the Southeast. A poster session will feature more than 20 posters highlighting the latest advances in fibers from the two institutions.
Researchers from the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center who conduct research on biopolymers also will contribute to research and development of new technical textiles. Innovation Gateway, UGA’s commercialization and startup arm, will be instrumental in bringing new technologies to the market, including a portfolio of 10 existing textile, fiber and polymer technologies.