wool clean with robots and air
and robots may not seem to have much in common, but research
in the school of textiles and design is looking at using
robotics to solve a perennial problem for the wool industry,
which, if resolved, could increase UK wool sales by £6.5m
easily becomes contaminated by baling twine, feedsacks
or even crisp packets which get chopped up as the wool
is processed and show up as white dandruff-like flecks
when the wool is dyed, spoiling the look of the finished
carpet or cloth.
the factory, the wool flows past at 20 metres a minute,
yet contaminants are currently identified by eye, and
removed by hand. Not surprisingly, many slip through,
and have to be picked Ð again by hand Ð from the finished
researchers Dr Abbas Dehghani, Dr Zhenwei Su, Barry Greenwood
and Liwei Zhang have found a way to automate the removal,
using a system which recognises foreign particles in the
wool at speeds up to 25 metres a minute. Fine light sources
pinpoint the contaminant's position and a series of jet
extractors and a robotic system separate and remove it
from the wool.
Abbas Dehghani: "We are now refining the system, to ensure
every type of likely contaminant is identified and removed.
The big test will come at the end of this year when we
will try out the system in a real scouring mill. We don't
expect to see any 'dandruff' on our products at all."