In May, the Lycra Company opened its brand new, state-of-the-art research & Development (R&D) lab in Nanhai, China. The Advanced Textile Innovation Center (ATIC) represents a significant increase in the firm’s global R&D capabilities and demonstrates its commitment to providing its services to its customers in Asia.
The lab will help mills, brands and retailers, as well as Western-based companies with local sourcing offices, accelerate the development of innovative garment solutions that meet apparel market needs and add value to customer’s products.
Jerry Yan, China End Use Research Manager, will supervise operations at the 4,500-square-meter facility. He earned a Ph.D. in Textile Science and Engineering from Donghua University and the University of Texas at Austin prior to joining the company in 2014.
The Lycra blog interviewed Jerry to learn more about the new lab and its research programs to develop advanced fibre and textile solutions that are functional and fashionable.
Q: Why did The Lycra company choose to build ATIC in Nanhai, China?
A: We chose Nanhai because it’s close to our mill and brand customers in Asia and it’s co-located with our South China office. We’re confident that the synergy between R&D and the commercial team will greatly benefit our customers by helping them accelerate speed-to-market. The proximity to universities for recruiting talent and to transportation hubs for commuting also factored into our decision
Q: What are ATIC’s capabilities?
A: ATIC will provide unparalleled service and support to customers, helping them innovate and optimize the performance of fabrics and garments. We’re fully equipped with the latest commercial equipment, so we can simulate real world textile manufacturing processes including knitting, weaving, yarn preparation, dyeing and finishing. Our testing capabilities include yarn and fabric physical property (yellowing, air permeability, tension control and evaluation), fastness (perspiration, light, wet, and rubbing), mock dyeing and finishing performance. We will also conduct tests on fabrics for our fabric certification program.
Q: Can you describe The Lycra company’s innovation process from idea to commercialization?
A: Our innovation process is quite unique in the industry and I can’t discuss it. Many of our innovations are co-developed with customers, so we keep this information confidential. This ensures our customers can stay ahead of their competition and strengthen their competitive advantage in the marketplace. What I can tell you is that ATIC researchers engage with customers to identify opportunities for new products. Then they lead the development and commercialization of innovative polymer, fiber and textile technologies to meet market needs. Anyone interested in learning more about our innovation process can contact us about becoming a customer, then they will experience it firsthand.
Q: Where do new product or product enhancement ideas come from?
A: From a variety of sources. We commission market trend studies and consumer research, so many ideas come from sales and marketing staff. In addition, brainstorming with customers also leads to new ideas. We plan on hosting innovation brainstorming sessions between our own R&D and commercial teams and our customers’ R&D team to ideate new products and enhancements. In addition, our R&D staff will be able to develop their own concepts and utilize our Virtual Lab Network to tap into the expertise of their colleagues worldwide.
Q: What types of production issues can customers come to your lab to solve?
A: We perform troubleshooting for customers including uniformity improvement, yarn breaking, fabric performance improvement, value-in-use study, and much more. Being able to replicate customer issues on our equipment enables us to quickly provide solutions and reduce costly downtime.
Q: Will your lab only focus on apparel fibers, or a particular branded fiber, or will you work on everything produced by The Lycra company?
A: We will work on everything produced by The Lycra company with full capability.
Q: What areas of expertise will ATIC staff have?
A: Our technical experts specialize in different fields. We’ll have a group of research engineers focusing on warp knitting, circular knitting, weaving, yarn preparation, garment engineering, dyeing & finishing and hygiene/diaper production; a very experienced team of operating technicians; and a group of testing technicians to support our Fabric Certification Program and perform research testing. Using our Virtual Lab Network, we can also collaborate seamlessly with our colleagues in labs around the world and tap into their expertise as well.
Q: Can you describe the facility and what the work environment is like at ATIC?
A: Everything is new and modern here: from our showroom that displays garments featuring our products, to our labs featuring the latest equipment. The Lycra company supports work-life balance and has provided an on-site gym to promote employee wellness. We’ve also taken steps to create a pleasant and supportive workplace environment—one that promotes creativity and collaboration among our staff. We built a coffee bar for this reason. It’s a relaxed, informal gathering place for employees to brainstorm ideas away from the formality of the lab.
Courtesy: Knitting Trade Journal
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