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Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles Manufacturing Innovation Institute Announced

The institute's participants will integrate fibers and yarns with integrated circuits, LEDs, solar cells, and other devices and advanced materials to create textiles and fabrics that can sense, communicate, store energy, regulate temperature, monitor health, change color, etc.

A new Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles Manufacturing Innovation Institute has been announced by the Obama administration, with Defense Secretary Ash Carter announcing April 1 that a consortium of 89 manufacturers, universities, and non-profits organized by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will spearhead it in partnership with the Department of Defense. The goal is to secure U.S. leadership in revolutionary fibers and textiles manufacturing, and MIT has created Advanced Functional Fabrics of America in support of it.

The institute's participants will integrate fibers and yarns with integrated circuits, LEDs, solar cells, and other devices and advanced materials to create textiles and fabrics that can sense, communicate, store energy, regulate temperature, monitor health, change color, etc. A prototyping facility designed to help start-ups test their first products and scale up new technologies into full production will be set up in Cambridge.

Companies and organizations participating in it include Corning, DuPont, FLIR, Intel, Medtronic, Milliken, Nike, RTI International, SAP, Steelcase, VF Corporation, and Warwick Mills, along with schools such as Auburn University, Carnegie Mellon University, Clemson University, Ohio State University, Penn State, Rice University, Temple University, the University of Texas at Austin, Virginia Tech, and Washington State University.

The institute will combine more than $75 million of federal resources with nearly $250 million of non-federal investment in innovative fabrics and textiles with novel properties that range from being incredibly lightweight and flame resistant to having exceptional strength and containing electronic sensors -- fabrics that can protect firefighters or detect when a wounded soldier needs to be treated with an antimicrobial compression bandage. This is the eighth manufacturing hub to be awarded by the administration, and the Defense Department has helped to lead five of them in areas such as 3D printing, lightweight metals, and flexible hybrid electronics, Carter said.

OH&S is presenting a free webinar beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern time April 7 on a new protective apparel innovation -- a multi-hazard lab coat that combines an inherently FR fiber with a proprietary chemical-splash protective finish. Visit this page to register for the "New Technology in Lab Safety: Flame-Resistant, Chemical-Splash Protection" webinar.

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