Drexel University's Center for Functional Fabrics (CFF) imagines a world where textiles are capable of sensing, computing, communicating, transmitting, and receiving while remaining visually appealing.
Functional fabrics, also known as smart textiles, are designed and engineered to perform with additional functionality beyond that found in conventional textiles. These advanced fabrics have end uses in a wide array of industries from aerospace and defense to medical technology to consumer products.
These future fabrics are possible through CFF's dynamic, transdisciplinary collaborations that bring together theoretical, experimental, and applied research of investigators from diverse disciplines, working together as a cohesive team. To make these complex textile devices a reality, biotechnology, fashion design, medicine, material science, electronics, computer science, textiles and product design are all essential successfully developing functional fabrics and smart textiles with scalable production methods.
CFF sees the next generation of textiles requires the seamless integration of flexible circuitry, sensors, antennas and power sources to make devices and products where the technology disappears into a reliable and dynamic fabric.
Historically, US manufacturing has been recognized as a world leader in R&D and innovation. Decline in US manufacturing over the last two decades is threatening the country's global competitiveness and economic vitality. In June 2011, Manufacturing USA (formerly the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation) became a Presidential initiative to ensure American leadership in advanced manufacturing. Advanced manufacturing is defined as new methods of manufacturing products that include activities combining and relying on system infrastructure (information, computation, software, sensing and networking) and/or use new, innovation materials.
As a comprehensive research university, Drexel's vision of advancing knowledge through experiential and technology-infused education offers a unique context to leverage transdisciplinary collaborations and address the future challenges of advanced manufacturing.