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April 21, 2020

Microfibre research shows complex fragementation

The Microfibre Consortium (TMC) has shared initial results of a new microfibre shedding test method for the textile industry, which show fragmentation is not purely related to fibre composition, but the interconnection of all elements of the textile make up.

By Michelle Russell

The Microfibre Consortium (TMC) has shared initial results of a new microfibre shedding test method for the textile industry, which show fragmentation is not purely related to fibre composition, but the interconnection of all elements of the textile make up.

Developed by the University of Leeds (UoL) on behalf of the consortium, the test, which launched in November last year, measures microfibre material loss from textiles, and is designed to help members accelerate research that leads to product development change and a reduction in microfibre shedding in the fashion, sport, outdoor and home textiles industries.

Preliminary results from the first phase of the research show that fragmentation is a complex process that is affected by materials, fibres, yarn structure, fabric structure and finishing processes.

“Simple statements that one fabric type is worse than another ignore this complexity and mislead product development teams,” says Dr Mark Sumner of the University of Leeds. “For example, when testing two fabrics which appear to be the same, in that they are both knitted filament polyester, Fabric B had over 30 times more fibre fragmentation than Fabric A. There is much more work needed to fully understand how fabric material and structural factors influence fragmentation, but TMC is leading the charge in unpicking this complexity.”

TMC says the next phase of its wider work includes funding a full-time research technician in order to support efforts to build a database of understanding about the impact of different fibres, yarns, fabric constructions and process steps with regard to fibre shedding at the material level.

The first outputs from that work were presented to 31 TMC members, representing global brands, retailers, research organisations and supply chain partners at a forum in March.

Sophie Mather, managing director of TMC, adds: “This latest research is another important sign of progress in our project. We have already developed a robust test method for measuring fibre fragmentation loss (previously referred to as microfibre loss) and we now have a developing body of understanding of the contributing factors from a diverse range of material types and processes. This will inform the next stage of the work that we are doing with the University of Leeds and our other global research partners.

“All of this moves us closer to developing practical solutions that will help the textile industry minimise fibre fragmentation and release into the environment during the production and full life cycle of garments.”

Founded in November 2018, The Microfibre Consortium now has 40 members from across the outdoor sector, sports, high street, luxury fashion and home textiles. TMC also has research and affiliate members from around the world, boosting the consortium’s growing international scope to support greater global topic alignment and collaboration and research understanding.

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