doctors make cloth without weaving
county which clothed the world in wool during the industrial
revolution is set to do it again, this time without looms
or spinning machines.
a second revolution for the industry, University of Leeds
scientists and their industrial collaborators have used
modern technology to create non-woven woollen cloth
made directly from wool fibres without spinning or weaving.
Russell (pictured foreground) and John Hammond model jackets
lined with the new material
cloth from wool has been going on for over 3,500 years
and the language involved warp, weft, thread, spin
is woven into the fabric of our everyday speech.
Following mechanisation in the 19th century, most of the
world's woollen cloth was made in Yorkshire. But even
with machines, turning wool into cloth has always been
a laborious process, and fast, modern methods using predominantly
synthetic fibres have overtaken natural fibre fabrics
for many uses.
original invention, by textiles researchers Dr Steve Russell,
Professor Carl Lawrence and Dr Abbas Dehghani, and collaborators
The Woolmark Company and BFF Nonwovens, enables wool to
be processed using a modern technique called hydro-entanglement,
which shortens the time taken to produce fabric by eliminating
the need for spinning and weaving.
fibres are scoured and mechanically entangled to produce
a web structure, from which the cloth is made.
non-woven fabrics made from synthetic fibres are already
used in industrial, medical and general applications,
such as wipes, car components and filters. But marrying
this technique with wool has created the first non-woven
fabric of sufficient quality, strength and comfort to
be used in high performance clothing.
its first application, the fabric has been bonded with
a breathable membrane to line weatherproof coats. Further
development is under way to produce cloth for other outerwear,
such as trousers and jackets.
Russell said: "Wool fibre is so resilient and elastic
that it can be bent up to 30,000 times without danger
of breaking or damage. It can also transmit moisture vapour
but repels liquids, and can regulate heat, which makes
the new material ideal for use in sportswear. No synthetic
fibre combines all these characteristics."
Hellens for The Woolmark Company said, "This non-woven
fabric is a useful addition to our Sportwool
These revolutionary fabrics are able to create a unique
micro-climate around the wearer, keeping them dry and
cool when they are hot, and warm when they start to cool