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Felting Machine & Process

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  • 1. Three-Dimensional (3-D) Form Felting Machine & Process By Deborah Loxam-Kohl World Wool Award Recipient: Concept, Innovation & Extension
  • 2. The Three-Dimensional Form Felting Machine & Process:
    • produces form directly from raw material
    • utilizes the natural ability of wool to felt
    • operates using the wet-felting method
    • employs heat, moisture and agitation
    • uses pure wool, or wool blended with natural and/or synthetic fibres
  • 3. Qualities of felted wool
    • P leasing to touch
    • H olds colour beautifully
    • W arm and comfortable
    • Consistent nape
    • Cuts without unravelling
    • Durable and protective
    • Wicks moisture
    • Retains its insulating abilities even when wet
    • Insulates against temperature, sound, and vibration
    • Softness and lightness like silk, or thickness and rigidity like leather
    • All are desirable characteristics that lend themselves to
    • domestic, commercial and industrial applications.
  • 4. The quality of felt produced using the machine:
    • smooth surface texture
    • uniform wall thickness
    • consistent density
    • strong fibre matrix
    • structural integrity
    • excellent surface wear
    • resistance to further shrinkage
    • concave or convex form s
  • 5. Advantages for the consumer:
    • expresses the warmth , comfort and ease of wear associated with wool
    • access to unique products that were previously unavailable
    • simplified care instructions and reduced fibre shrinkage
    • long wearing and non-pilling
    • made from a renewable natural resource that is non-toxic and eco friendly
  • 6. Commercial benefits for the retailer:
    • a unique product not found elsewhere
    • upholds the aesthetic qualities of wool desired by the consumer
    • a product requiring less maintenance and care for the consumer
    • a material with structural integrity, stability and resistance to surface wear
    • reduction in consumer returns due to shrinkage or complex care instructions
    • reduction in inventory losses and labour costs related to customer returns
    • increased customer confidence in product
  • 7. Benefits to the wool industry:
    • the ability to position wool within the non-wovens industry
    • the ability to compete with synthetic-fibre, non-woven products
    • a product with comparable physical properties to heat-pressed spun-polyester fibre products
    • an increased efficiency in production
    • producing felt components directly from wool batting, rather than having to construct forms from flat felt pieces
    • significant improvements in product quality and design when applying the technology to existing manufacturing methods
    • a process that lends itself to mass-manufacturing methods
    • an affordable and easy to integrate addition to existing felt manufacturing systems
  • 8. An example of products made from felt:
    • fashion accessories : hats, boots, shoes, and handbags
    • insulating panels in automobiles that protect against sound, vibration and temperature
    • air , oil and water filters, wicks and gaskets in automobiles
    • orthopedic insoles
    • stereo speaker cones
    • acoustic wall and ceiling panels
    • Next to paper, felt is the second most ubiquitous material
    • in our surroundings, however, it is usually hidden
    • beneath the surface of other materials.
  • 9. Current methods of manufacture:
    • Die - cut ting pattern pieces of flat felt, which are scored, folded, and glued or sewn together to create form .
    • Turning thick pieces of flat felt on a lathe to create tubes, which are cut and bent into circles, the ends sewn together to create ‘ o ’ ring s.
    • Injecting fibres with resin and pressing them into a mould .
    • In each case , a 3-D felted-wool form could be produced:
        • simplifying the method of manufacture
        • providing a product with more structural integrity
        • eliminating the need for chemical stiffeners
  • 10. Potential applications of the technology:
    • Moulded luggage, computer and archival storage cases.
    • Non -obtrusive , aesthetically engineered shock-absorbent pads for protection in sports, physiotherapy, and the design of prosthetics.
    • Light weight, custom moulded packaging to fit electronic s and digital devices.
    • Shock dampening applications in computer equipment.
  • 11. Innovative applications:
    • Engineered pressure-point pads for astronaut suits in zero gravity environments (NASA).
    • Engineered felted-wool cuff with integrated computation device (Hewlett-Package).
    • Recycle d, macerated wool fibres in a reconstituted liquid medium, cast into forms for insulation and packaging , or components.
  • 12. Blended with other fibres:
    • Properties of wool are enhanced and transformed.
    • Research and testing indicate both natural and artificial fibres can be integrated into the wool felting process .
    • A new material emerges that retains the qualities of wool felt, while exhibiting new characteristics .
    • Potential exists to utilize recycled fibres from garment industry.
  • 13. Benefits of the Felting Machine & Process:
    • produces a superior quality felt
    • produces a 3-D form, in-the-round, directly from raw materials
    • eliminates die-cutting pattern pieces from flat felt, that are scored, folded , and glued or sewn together to produce form
    • makes the manufacture of forms more efficient
    • forms retain their shape without the use of stiffeners or adhesives
    • applicable to industries with stringent purity regulations requiring natural, non-toxic, hypoallergenic, or environmentally friendly processes or materials
    • ie: soundproof wall panels for residential, commercial and industrial uses ; garments or accessories worn on the body
  • 14. The 3-D Felting Machine and Process
    • an innovative solution to the production of felted-wool forms
    • represents a technical breakthrough that adds to our knowledge and understanding of the properties of wool and its applications
    • research and development will reveal its value as an innovative method of manufacture for non-woven goods
    • when applied to various industries, will initiate the development of groundbreaking new products
    • has the potential to increase the development and distribution o f wool through widespread applications in domestic, commercial and industrial applications