Mapping Nonwoven Networks 2019

Can we transform existing manufacturing lines with 'bolt-on' technologies?

Non-woven material production has been cited as an increasingly carbon efficient method compared with traditional textile manufacturing (Mistra Future Fashion, 2017); however, applications for nonwoven materials are mostly within technical and utility markets such as geotextiles, cosmetic, medical, construction, filtration, sanitation etc.

Dr. Helen Paine undertook an investigation of nonwoven networks within the UK economy to understand existing infrastructures that could assist in scaling up of concepts towards proposals for future redistributed circular systems.

This project followed a proposal to reconsider non-woven materials for alternative markets, using digital finishing methods as a ‘bolt-on’ to existing manufacturing lines; to upgrade aesthetic and performance qualities in flexible assembly lines that allow for small-scale customised production runs. The use of digital finishing further builds on the sustainability credentials of the product; suggesting future systems for localised redistributed manufacture that limit transportation of product and also enables opportunity for user-focused design input.

The focus for the research has been to map existing non-woven manufacturing networks within the UK; to understand product applications and manufacturing methods at mass-manufacture and designer-maker scale. Material investigations using laser technology to enhance existing synthetic and bio-derived non-woven substrates have been used as a method to demonstrate enhanced product aesthetic and a tool to communicate with industry stakeholders. Connections made throughout the project have extended stakeholder networks for the development of this research towards circular textile production systems within the UK economy.