August 2005 -- The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) has been instrumental in the research and development of a project that has resulted in the introduction of a new wool product, 'Wool/Nomex' blend. The first yards of this woven fabric were introduced in July.
Parvez Mehta, Ph.D., ASI product development consultant, in cooperation with the American wool industry and the U.S. Army, has developed a novel blend of wool and Nomex?, a cost-effective, fire-retardant, comfortable and machine-washable fabric. The new blend is so unique and successful that the U.S. Army is considering a patent action for the product. Meanwhile, the wool industry is excited about its use in the commercial market, producing a variety of items from underwear to hand wear.
The new woven product successfully combines all of the positive features of the two distinctly different fibers to arrive at a new fabric superior to both original fibers. Wool brings comfort and moisture control, while Dupont's meta-aramid Nomex adds superior flame-retardancy and high strength.
"Wool adds value to high tech synthetic-fiber fabric in terms of comfort and wearability, without sacrificing any protective functions,? comments Mehta. "In performance fabric blends, wool is the fiber of choice.?
The resulting woven fabric has such great military potential that the U.S. Army's Natick Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass., has contracted with ASI to develop dyes and dye techniques that would allow the fabric to be camouflage printed using the latest 'pixilated' printing systems. The first 1,000 yards of woven wool/Nomex were produced in July to be used for extensive wear testing throughout the Army.
"We are optimistic about potential sales for wool/Nomex products both commercially and for the military. ASI has various programs to market American wool and it is exciting when we find new avenues," says Rita Kourlis Samuelson, deputy director of operations and wool marketing director.