The first-in-the-nation Revolutionary Fiber and Textile Manufacturing Innovation Institute will be opened at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter joined Gov. Charlie Baker and other state leaders on Friday to announce the $317 million Futuristic Textile manufacturing center.
Massachusetts has been chosen to host textiles manufacturing center with a goal of developing cutting-edge fabrics with a range of unusual properties, from being incredibly lightweight and flame-resistant to exceptionally strong or containing electronic sensors.
Massachusetts has pledged $40 million in matching funds to support capital projects at the facility.
Carter said that the fabrics can have a range of practical applications from providing gear to protect firefighters from the hottest flames to weaving the sensing capabilities of a smart watch into a lightweight fabric.
The innovations could even create fabrics that could help detect when a wounded soldier needs to be treated with an antimicrobial compression bandage.
Yoel Fink, director of the MIT-based Advanced Functional Fabrics of America said that fibers and fabrics are among the earliest forms of human expression, yet have changed very little over the course of history. All this is about to change as functional fiber and yarn technologies meet traditional textile production and yield new products by design.
U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy, who helped rally support for the Massachusetts bid, said that new fabrics are modernizing everything from battlefield communication to medical care. Ability to merge cutting-edge technology with age-old ingenuity has sparked a new day for the textile industry.
The initiative also helps combine two of the state's economic strengths â€” the legacy of the old mill towns that were once the backbone of the state's textiles economy and the brainpower that has helped fuel much of its 21st century growth.
Other participants in the project include the University of Massachusetts, Quinsigamond Community College, and several private companies. UMass will offer its technical expertise in flexible electronics and wearable technologies, and Quinsigamond's role will be to support education and training of a skilled workforce in advanced textiles manufacturing.
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