Reducing the fuzz

Designing Smarter Technologies

A new textile treatment could make the annoying pilling of your favourite jumper a thing of the past.

Putting on an item of clothing only to find it covered with unsightly bobbles of fuzz is a common and frustrating experience. It’s long been a frustration for the textiles industry as well, as ‘pilling’ reduces the appearance and perception of quality of fabrics.

The problem occurs when friction or abrasion causes loose fibres in material to become tangled, causing more pulling and tangling and creating fuzzy balls. The textiles industry has a number of ways to deal with the issue, none of which are entirely satisfactory as they can result in an unpleasant feel to the fabric, reduce the lifespan of the product and aren’t always environmentally-friendly.

However, that nasty pilling on your woollen jumpers and bedsheets could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a new textile treatment developed by textile innovators at HeiQ with help from researchers from Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM).

Working collaboratively under the framework of the ARC Research Hub for Future Fibres, the partners have developed a range of “no fuzz” treatments that reduce unsightly pilling and make garments look and feel newer for longer.

“The key to avoiding pilling is to either remove fluffy fibres or to stabilise the fabric structure so fibres can’t easily loosen and tangle,” said IFM Senior Research Fellow Dr Alessandra Sutti.

“HeiQ’s NoFuzz technology bridges the gaps and strengthens loose fibres with adhesive polymer structures, reinforcing fabric yarns and resulting in a significant improvement against pilling.”
Dr Alessandra Sutti Institute for Frontier Materials

HeiQ Australia chief executive Dr Murray Height, co-founder of HeiQ Materials AG, said pilling and abrasion resistance in general was one of the biggest problems affecting clothing, especially when it came to staple fibre textiles such as wool and natural/synthetic blends.

“The need for an off-the-shelf treatment that can be applied to any fabric without noticeable impact on its feel or appearance has been discussed since the early days of the IFM/HeiQ partnership,” Dr Height said.

“The textiles industry has tried to deal with this issue for years, but most fabric-based treatments result in an unpleasant feel to the fabric and reduced comfort.”

Dr Sutti said the HeiQ NoFuzz treatment helped to make clothing more robust to wear and tear, thereby playing a role in extending the useful lifetime of garments.

“This treatment can be used on all fibre types, but it has been shown to be particularly effective on spun yarns and natural/synthetic blends, and we’re using materials that reinforce component yarns within the main fabric structure,” she said.

NoFuzz is the second commercial product to come out of IFM’s collaboration with HeiQ, following the 2016 release of the HeiQ Real Silk textile treatment.

Dr Sutti said she and her team were committed to working with HeiQ on a range of projects to improve the performance and sustainability of textiles.

“Our collaboration covers a wide range of topics, from the development of the short polymer fibre platform all the way through to the implementation of new technologies in textile treatments,” she said.

This research was supported by the ARC Research Hub for Future Fibres.

 

Main photograph: Dr Amol Patil, Research Engineer ARC Research Hub for Future Fibres, and Dr Marzieh Parhizkar, Research Fellow ARC Research Hub for Future Fibres​.

 

Published by Deakin Research on 25 May 2018

Institute for Frontier Materials

The Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) is at the forefront of innovation in materials design and engineering research. Our key research areas fall under two main themes: innovative manufacturing technologies and energy efficiency; resource and infrastructure sustainability.