Behnaz Baghaei

2016-10-06 08:00

New instruments measure how well fabrics can be draped

Composites of renewable materials are being developed at the University of Borås for future use in, for example, the automotive industry. It is thus important to know about the new materials’ properties. Two special instruments to measure the materials' ability to drape and form themselves to underlying surfaces are being used.

Behnaz Baghaei is a researcher at the University of Borås and studies how natural fibres and cellulose fibres (viscose) can be combined to form strong and bio-based composites that can be used as environmentally friendly materials in, for example, motor vehicle interiors.

She uses polyactide fibres (PLA), hemp, linen, lyocell and viscose, and blends of these materials. The fibres are made into a loose and fluffy yarn that is then woven or knitted into soft fabrics.Days of Knowledge
To fund the "buy instruments" project, Sparbanksstiftelsen Sjuhärad is providing SEK 185 000. This money will be awarded on 19 October at Days of Knowledge, a ceremony at which the University of Borås honours research and education. The event is arranged by the University of Borås, City of Borås, Sparbanksstiftelsen Sjuhärad and Swedbank Sjuhärad.

“If they are going to be used for the interiors of vehicles, for example, they need to be adaptable so they can be shaped according to the vehicle designers’ wishes, says Behnaz Baghaei. The formed textiles are then heated under pressure and become a hard, sustainable, and light material.”

She has now produced 400 kg of textiles of different biocomposites that will be presented to industrial companies together with descriptions of the materials’ characteristics.

An important characteristic is a material’s draping capability, which is to say how adaptable it is to form itself to the underlying shape. This is measured with two special instruments: Fabric Stiffener Tester and Fabric Drape Tester

In short, a Fabric Stiffener Tester can be described as an instrument that measures how much and at which angle a fabric can be bent, as well as how long the fabric is before it begins to bend. A Fabric Drape Tester measures how well the fabric falls or forms itself to a round shape. Different characteristics are appropriate for different areas of use. If a material does not perform as desired, its composition can be changed and tested until the right qualities are achieved. 

”Before, we had to send our textiles to other labs to test their draping capabilities, says Behnaz Baghaei. Now we can get these data quickly when we have these instruments in our own lab. They are a good complement to our other equipment.”

She notes that the Swedish School of Textiles and Smart Textiles can also make use of these instruments to investigate the qualities of different textile materials.

“The equipment can even be used in projects with businesses as well as in collaboration with other research projects or universities,” she says.

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More about Behnaz Baghaeis research

Smart Textiles researcher behind unique biocomposite