2017 Conference Recap

The theme for the 2017 Southern Textile Research Conference (STRC) was “Value Added Textiles for Fashion and Function”. Dr. David Hinks from NC State University began the conference with a keynote address entitled, “How the College of Textiles is Enabling Future Leaders of the US Textiles Complex”. This rousing presentation gave a very optimistic overview of how NC State University is developing new leaders for the textile industry and how the college is of enormous benefit to the textile industry.

Dr. Tushar Ghosh from NC State University made a presentation on “Smart Textiles”. Smart textiles can sense (and sometimes react to) electrical, thermal, chemical, and magnetic external stimuli. NC State is working on strong, lightweight materials for a variety of applications, including medical, military, as well as many other new end uses.

Troy Massey from Pulcra Chemical reviewed “Active Textiles and Encapsulated Finishing Chemicals”. These products add value to textiles by enhancing fabrics with active ingredients for care, freshness, comfort and protection. Textiles can be treated with microencapsulated ingredients such as cosmetics, essential oils, perfumes, and insect repellents.

Dr. Magali Brown from NICCA provided a presentation on, “The Right Fluorine-free Durable Water Repellent for Your Application”. Dr. Brown discussed fluorine free formulations based on a botanical extract that are gentle on the environment. These products provide excellent water repellency with outstanding wash durability.

Dr. Ahmed El-Shafei from NC State University reviewed, “Halogen-free Flame Retardant Cyclotriphosphazene and Phosphoramidate Chemistry for Cotton, PET and PP”. Several existing flame retardant technologies are under scrutiny for their potential toxicity or environmental impact. Dr. El-Shafei’s team at NC State university is working to development safe alternative. Dr. E-Shafei also gave an overview of  other research projects at NC State University.

Jimmy Rowe presented Cotton Incorporated’s consumer research regarding consumer and retail insights. The US retail environment is changing rapidly, so in order to remain competitive, brands must remain proactive. Retailers need to build relationships with their customers in this new climate. Consumers are looking for new performance features in their garments. Trends and highlights of these performance features were reviewed.

Hardy Sullivan from Crypton Fabrics discussed, “Environmental and Health Considerations for Stain-resistant Fabric”. There has been negative publicity toward the use of fluorinated chemicals on textiles. However, non-fluorinated products do not resist all stains, and under heavy usage, upholstery can become badly soiled to the point the furnishing must be reupholstered or replaced sooner than the expected product life. This situation must be weighed carefully with considerations regarding the safety and track record of C6 fluorinated products. All things must be considered, including health, environmental contamination, product performance, and customer satisfaction.

Dr. Phil Brown from Clemson University wrapped us the 2017 STRC with, “A Better Fig Leaf, or Beyond the Fig Leaf”. Water repellent technologies can gradually fail, especially under repeated use in bad weather situations. Dr. Brown discussed the development of an ultra-hydrophobic material by using special fiber geometries combined with techniques to provide self-regenerating hydrophobic surfaces.

Don Alexander was elected as the new Program Chair. He succeeds Dr. Ahmed El-Shafei, who has been a valuable asset for recruiting many of our excellent speakers.

The 2017 STRC was well-attended, and the participants showed a high level of participation and interaction. We are looking forward to the 2018 STRC!