Computer Aided Design of Integrated Textiles (CAD-IT)
Since the HTL’s inception, it was very clear to our team that digital fabrication of textiles would play an important role in the production of functional fabrics and the reason we partnered with Shima Seiki, not only a leader in textile manufacturing equipment but also in modeling and design software. These powerful design tools helped us identify what is needed to speed innovation of functional fabrics in the CAD-IT space. Our existing CAD-IT capabilities include 16 SDS-ONE APEX Shima Seiki computer systems housed at the HTL. These workstations are equipped with a variety of software tools that enable the design and manufacturing of complex knitted fabrics, and tools that visualize woven and knitted textiles. An additional 20 workstations from the Theoretical & Applied Mechanics Group (TAMG) in the College of Engineering are capable of performing multiscale and multiphysics modeling and simulation of textiles using state-of-the-art software ranging from computational mechanics codes (e.g. Finite Element Methods, Peridynamics, Molecular Dynamics) to design topology optimization and generative design codes. Specifically, the PA FDC will focus on both fundamental aspects of the CAD-IT mission of AFFOA, which is the generation and curation of pedigreed data that can be fed into design, and the quantification of the parameters that will allow precision manufacturing through the use of software tools that link design with advanced manufacturing. The state-of-the-art equipment to be located at the PA FDC will be used to quantify multiple physical parameters (e.g., mechanical, thermal, tribological, electrical) and perform geometrical analysis (e.g., surface and volumetric 3D topology quantification), which are needed in both standardization and quality control aspects of the development of functional fabrics.
Fiber and Yarn Devices(FYD)
Yarns come in a variety of blends and twists, early on in our work we recognized that the ability to create our own yarn blends and twist geometries would give us full control of our material and the ability to understand how yarns can play an important role in the overall properties of textiles. Our current FYD equipment includes machinery to twist novel yarns with conventional ones to create a variety of twisting geometries for the yarn devices. We also use LGL spin and compact yarn feeders, machinery to accurately feed novel yarns into knitting and weaving machines. We will grow our FYD capabilities by updating our twisting equipment and expanding on a variety of yarn feeders. Additionally, we will build a nano-yarn electro-spinner to demonstrate our ability to make novel materials at the fiber level. The HTL has already built one of these machines for a nanomaterials lab at Drexel and plans to build a second one for the PA FDC.
Textiles Systems Assemblies(TSA)
The HTL’s focus has always been 3D knitting of textile devices, knitting as a form of textile production holds remarkable potential to produce fabrics and complete 3D shapes without the need to cut and sew. This form of fabrication is a powerful platform for the creation of functional fabrics. Our existing TSA equipment at CFF includes four Shima Seiki 3D industrial knitting machines that are able to produce complete seamless garments and textile structures. The SSG112SV is a wide gauge machine, the SWG First 124 can use up to 28 different yarn carriers to create fabrics with many different yarns and/or geometries, the SWG041N can fabricate gloves and other complex knit structures, and the MACH2X is a Wholegarment™ machine with four beds of needles that can create 3D seamless garments and large complex 3D knitted structures. We plan to expand and continue our focus on 3D knitting by acquiring new knitting equipment including three circular knitting machines and one warp knitting machine. We will also acquire a small weaving machine for technology demonstration, as well as a variety of textile assembly equipment such as a seam welder and various sewing machines. Expanding the capabilities of our manufacturing equipment will enable us to not only better serve our customers in the development of new innovative products but also inform the advanced modeling and design tools required to build this new industry.
Through our collaborative network, the HTL has worked with diverse disciplines to turn its functional fabrics prototypes into fully integrated systems so that they become reliable textile devices. Mature prototype examples created at the HTL, such as the Exo-Skin Glove, the Bellyband and the Textile Capacitive Touch Sensor, demonstrate powerful concepts but also exposed the challenges posed by textile system integration. Full SI of sensors, connectors, and communication systems are real barriers to innovation of functional fabrics. The SI capabilities of the PA FDC will be significantly enhanced through the addition of various testing and analysis equipment. This equipment is capable of providing fiber, yarn, textile and prototype design parameters to be used in both design and analysis, modeling, simulation, and prediction of textile multifunctional behavior. This addresses how functional fabrics should be integrated into full systems that are reliable and repeatable. Consequently, the PA FDC is poised to bridge one of the fundamental gaps that prevents the widespread use of design and simulation tools in advanced manufacturing processes associated with functional fabrics, uncovering necessary solutions for the true marketability of these devices. In addition to a comprehensive physical characterization of fibers and textiles, the equipment and resources of the PA FDC will be capable of testing textile systems (TSA), such as complete product prototypes, allowing for data and performance evaluation required in this new industry. This will translate to optimization in design and manufacturability of textile systems.