For over two decades, the potential for smart textiles has excited the imagination — from wearables that integrate electronics to monitor health and fitness as well as diagnose medical problems, to embedded stress and strain sensors that measure data and monitor changes, to predict potential catastrophic failure in the oil and gas industry, to antibacterial and antiviral yarns and finishes that reduce COVID-19 transmission in medical and public transportation applications.
The demand exists, and the technology is feasible, and the manufacturing processes are maturing, and yet the commercial potential has yet to be realized. Bally Ribbon Mills (BRM) is playing a leading role in the industry in understanding the obstacles and implementing strategic initiatives to mitigate them.
A fundamental problem is that it is often not economically viable for individual applications to bear the financial burden of developing and refining fundamental technological advancements. BRM addresses this challenge in a number of ways.
When possible, we use well-established existing technologies and manufacturing methods, as well as the experience we have acquired over the years, in order to shorten the R&D cycle. In addition, BRM has made significant investments in the advancement of generic, horizontal product capabilities and manufacturing methods that can be utilized by diverse vertical applications, effectively sharing the development costs and further shortening the R&D cycle.
We understand the ancillary requirements to make these high-leverage strategies successful. Before embarking on projects, BRM believes that it is critically important to establish clear Intellectual Property agreements to protect all parties. We also understand that industry standardization is necessary to allow our partners to take full advantage of existing and evolving technologies, and we continue to play a leading role in the efforts to institute common industry terminology, metrics, and standards in areas such as verifying and validating conductive element properties, assessing and measuring washability, and measuring durability and wear.
By Sarah Islam, Bally Ribbon Mills