One of the greatest problems of the textile industry, management of textile waste, has been solved by a design and research team from the College of Human Ecology. They have developed the Fiberizer v.2, a machine that challenges the national problem of textile waste by taking old garments and recycling them into reusable fabric.
The team â€” organized by Prof. Tasha Lewis, fiber science and apparel design â€” consisted of students from fiber science and apparel design, design and environmental analysis, physics, mechanical and aerospace engineering, and materials science and engineering.
Lewis said that the idea came from a collaboration she had with a company making new clothing from the used clothing exported and sold in Haiti. The company upcycled clothing in a local factory and wanted a way to deal with the fabric waste left over after the new garment was made. The company had asked her and her team if they could develop solutions that would help to eliminate the waste by recycling it for another purpose.
Lewis also established a partnership with Green Eileen, a recycled clothing initiative of Eileen Fisher, Inc., which aims to reduce the textile industryâ€™s environmental impact. Green Eileen donates all the garments used in the Fiberizer project, and in return the team provides the company with fiber samples and end-product recommendations,.
Lewis added that, further, they plan to refine the Fiberizerâ€™s operation and capability to make sure it can handle a variety of fabrics. They are working to ensure the machine can fiberize all the types of fabrics found in our closets posing a huge challenge.
Rayne Milner â€™17, a member of the Fiberizer team said that the project is important because it is redefining how people think about recycling and reusing.The Fiberizer is really just a re-designed paper shredder, but the excitement and interest surrounding the machine is incredible. It is a great example of the growing interest with sustainable design.
Milner added that the company is hopeful that enough interest and money may help them to be able to make a third fiberizer and beyond.Their goal is to have many fiberizers available to produce so they could use them in design and eventually use them to process large amounts of material for repurposing.
The project was funded by a Walmart Foundation U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund grant that Lewis secured for the team. It specifically targets the small and damaged textile waste that could not be otherwise put to use. So far, the machine has had an extensive array of purposes, creating products for domestic use and for the outdoors.
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