Iowa State University (ISUs) research team is part of a partnership to improve the overall design and function of new military protective gear used in the military, emergency response and more. The ISU research team will be lead by Guowen Song, associate professor and the Noma Scott Lloyd Chair in Textiles and Clothing.
ISU is one of 31 universities involved in the AFFOA partnership, and the new institute is part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, a network Song said was created to improve manufacturing in the country.
The Department of Defense recently announced it will give $75 million over five years to the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) partnership to create the Revolutionary Fiber and Textile Manufacturing Innovation Institute.
Itâ€™s a great opportunity to work together with MIT, which is leading the program. The good thing here is working with the manufacturing element, Song said. They know the Department of Defense is trying to upgrade the soldier system. This product, no matter how high the technology, still needs to be manufactured.
The instituteâ€™s main goal is to improve military gear, but Song said that the research could eventually move on to include surgical gear and more.
But the institute goes beyond just designing new gear. To create an effective product, it will take a multidisciplinary approach. Thatâ€™s why researchers from apparel design, materials science and kinesiology will all play a role in ISUâ€™s research.
The work will also include the development of boots, gloves and helmets to create the full â€œsystem.â€ To make sure the system is as light and efficient as possible, each field of research will be testing different elements of the design.
The nature of this kind of protective system is really multidisciplinary. The person wearing it faces different types of hazards. It could be fire, it could be chemical, it could be biological, it interacts with the human body. So the clothing is a fundamental part.
Song said that the materials science and engineering side will develop the polymer-based textile, while the apparel design researchers will create the look and effectiveness of the overall system. Researchers in the kinesiology field will preform human trials with the new design to make sure it is performing as best as possible.
So they need a lot of areas, like kinesiology will do a movement analysis in a human trialâ€¦It really requires a team to engineer and make sure the whole system is functional.
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