The high speed dark and medullated fibre detector

The high speed dark and medullated fibre detector.

High speed automated test for dark and medullated wool fibres

CSIRO has developed an automated test for dark and medullated fibre detection that is now available through the Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA).

  • 16 September 2008 | Updated 14 October 2011

The dark and medullated fibre problem

Low dark fibre contamination of the Australian Merino wool clip has long been a competitive advantage for Australian wool resulting in a high premium. 

The importation of exotic sheep breeds to Australia has now increased the risk of dark fibre contamination for the wool clip, resulting in a perception of lower quality and some discounting of Australian wool.

What CSIRO did

CSIRO has developed a high-speed automated test for dark and medullated fibre contamination which will reduce costs significantly for woolgrowers.

“The new technology has significantly reduced testing costs and the turn-around time for pre-sale tests commissioned by woolgrowers from the AWTA.”
Mr Dale Carroll
Manager,
CSIRO Textile Consulting Services

The test uses a refractive index matching fluid to make white wool transparent, revealing only the dark or medullated fibres. These fibres are scanned and computer analysed to provide a detailed report of the dark or medullated fibre content for the Australian wool industry.

Current tests for contamination used by the Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA) are manually based and costly. 

The new technology has slashed costs, from A$150 to A$40 per test, as well as cutting the turn-around time for pre-sale tests commissioned by woolgrowers from the AWTA.

Confirmation of  low contamination levels of Australian wool will help protect price premiums for Australian wool growers.

About the scientists

Team Leader, Dr Ramsay has worked on the detection, removal, and classification of foreign and natural contamination in wool and cotton, along the processing pipeline from raw wool and cotton lint, through to dyed and undyed yarn and fabric.

Other members of the team are:

Mr Graham Higgerson who began his CSIRO career investigating the use of Near-Infrared Reflectance (NIR) spectroscopy to measure wool content. An interest in optics led to the establishment of a laboratory for optical processing of images and the application of image analysis to fibre metrology.

Physicist, Dr Stannard (now retired) developed image analysis software for the detection, measurement and counting of fibres. He had previously been involved in the development of ion-beam and nuclear techniques for analysis of solid-state materials.

Collaborators

The project was funded by Australian Wool Innovation Ltd and was carried out in collaboration with Australian Wool Testing Authority Ltd (AWTA).

Find out more about the services available from our Textile testing laboratory.