Electrospun and knitted fibres

Electrospun and knitted fibres.

Advanced fibrous materials: lighter, stronger, smarter

We focus on the use of advanced materials in fibrous structures to create high-value products.

  • 16 August 2010 | Updated 4 February 2013

Creating new materials

New advanced textile, hybrid, and composite materials are created through analysing the structure, properties and behaviours of natural and man-made materials.

These materials can be used to develop new components for existing or entirely new products for applications in:

  • defence and emergency services
  • healthcare
  • environmental management
  • transport. 

Advanced fibrous materials capability

CSIRO is developing new advanced textile, composite and hybrid materials based on natural or synthetic fibres.

We offer expert skills in the formation of complex fibrous structures and product development.

We are leading innovators in the growing technical textiles sector which makes functional and industrial textiles.

Our advanced fibrous materials capability now includes:

We offer world–leading skills in the formation of complex fibrous structures and product development.

  • the production of nanofibres by electrospinning
  • carbon nanotube (CNT) yarn and sheet manufacture
  • bicomponent fibre extrusion
  • the formation and characterization of structures manufactured from extruded fibres
  • application of conducting polymers to textiles
  • integration of electronic functions into textiles, such as energy storage into military garments
  • capacity to develop lightweight, flexible and high-performance fabrics for personal protection
  • small sample circular knitting, weaving and nonwovens carding and needlepunching machines.

Our focus

Our focus is on the use of advanced materials in fibrous structures to create high-value products. We focus our advanced fibrous materials research on:

  • personal protective garments for defence, emergency services, prison officers and environmental workers
  • harvesting, energy storage and advanced fibre development to creat integrated battery technology
  • high-performance clothing (using advanced technologies in clothing to monitor and improve performance, comfort and protection of sports, military and emergency services personnel)
  • building industry-led clusters for textile research, with a strong focus on personal protection, environmental, health care and military applications
  • biomaterials for health and hygiene products 
  • exploiting CNT synthesis methods and the fabrication of CNTs into yarns and fabrics and developing electrodes, batteries, sensors and interconnections for textile-based flexible electronics for a variety of end uses
  • developing electrospun fibres for potential use in medical, industrial and environmental applications
  • ultra high throughput separation membranes (applying CNT membranes to fluid flow and filtration). 

New equipment for samples

The development of advanced composite materials is often hampered by the cost of preparing woven and knitted samples from very expensive raw materials (for example, titanium costs several thousand dollars per spool).

  • CCI Studio weaving loom fromCCI Tech Inc., Taiwan.

Installed in 2010, this loom is an updated version of the CCI sample loom, with increased capacity to handle unconventional fibres.

  • CCI small sample weaving loom from CCI Tech Inc. Taiwan.
    We have installed the first CCI sample weaving machine in Australia which will massively reduce the quantity of raw material required for sample production. With the CCI, we can rapidly produce samples 38 to 76cm wide by three metres long, with low wastage of expensive yarns.

What currently takes 20 to 40 kg of yarn to produce on a conventional loom now takes around half a kilogram to produce a sample. The loom can be customised to work with delicate fibres that are not made for weaving.

We are currently weaving coated copper wire, manufactured for the internal mechanisms of watches to make electrically conductive fabrics. The CCI is specially adapted to handle these delicate and often brittle fibres.

The machine operates slowly at 40 pics per minute, a tenth of the speed of a conventional loom and also has a slow beating action. A single rapier is used for yarn transfer and it is timed to pass through the shed opening at its widest point, thereby reducing friction on the yarn.

  • Harry Lucas R-1s miniature circular knitting machine
    The Harry Lucas R-1s circular knitting machine adds to our advanced fibrous materials capability. This machine is equipped with five needles for the production of fine hollow tubes of between 2 mm to 5 mm. These tubes are to be used for creating human tissue replacement devices for clinical applications.

Recent highlights

Our work consists of long-term strategic, and short-term applied research. Some recent highlights include:

Other resources and facilities

In addition to the above, we have:

  • a pilot-scale mill facility
  • small-scale and pilot-scale nonwoven equipment
  • a bicomponent fibre extruder
  • fibre electrospinning facilities
  • carbon nanotube reactors and spinning machines
  • engineering workshop for making prototype instruments
  • a textile testing laboratory
  • an environmental testing facility
  • a microscopy unit.

Find out more about our Fibre Science Research Program.