An ongoing partnership that is working to explore the benefits of combining two natural based fibers - Merino Wool and NatureWorks fibers - has been announced by The Woolmark Company and Cargill Dow LLC.

Cargill Dow, a US based joint venture, is responsible for the conception and launch of NatureWorks fibers - commercially viable materials bridge the gap between natural fibers and synthetics. The resins, made from annually renewable resources such as corn, wheat and cassava, can be used in a range of fiber, textile and nonwoven fabric applications.

Robert Finch, group manager, technical marketing at Woolmark commented: "We are very excited about this relationship. Breakthrough technology in wool development is an area that we are constantly striving to maintain - NatureWorks offers us a new area to explore and exploit to the overall benefit of the textile industry."

Andy Shafer, global commercial director - fibers at Cargill Dow added: "Our relationship with Woolmark holds some exciting opportunities for bringing new and unique naturally based products to the market. NatureWorks fibers offer a significant innovation to the textile industry and our joint development efforts are yet another demonstration of the benefits NatureWorks provides in a wide range of textile applications."

The combination of two such unique natural/natural based fibers offers a wide range of added value opportunities and benefits to the consumer. Early development trial results suggest that there may be a number of processing efficiency benefits to emerge from the natural blend combination. Indications also show that new levels of performance may be possible in the areas of handle and crease resistance for smart casual products, and moisture management advantages for outerwear.

"This development is another example of the progress we've made with NatureWorks fibers," adds Shafer. "We've made significant advancements in fiber dyeing, fabric testing and significant validation that NatureWorks fibers are bridging the performance gap between natural and synthetic fibers."