April 25, 2002

Cornell TXA Joins National Textile Center

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Cornell’s department of textiles and apparel has joined the prestigious National Textile Center (NTC), a nine-university research consortium whose mission it is to enhance the competitiveness of the U.S. textile and apparel industry.

Members of the NTC conduct cutting-edge research that ranges from the development and manufacture of natural and synthetic fibers to computer modeling and marketing. The research has a wide spectrum of applications that includes not only textiles and apparel, but also the engineering of semitextile scaffolds for tissue and body organ repair and the creation of biodegradable composites for the automobile and computer industries. Practically any industry that uses fibers can benefit from the research of the department of textiles and apparel.

As part of the NTC, the department of textiles and apparel can now compete with the nation’s leading textile research universities for federal funding.

“This is the only federal government funding that is aimed at this type of research. It is very important for us to be part of this,” said Ann Lemley Ph.D. ’71, professor and chair of the department of textiles and apparel. “Becoming a member of the consortium is not only a recognition of the importance of the fiber, textile and apparel industry in New York state, but also a reflection of the quality of Cornell’s research.”

Recently, Susan Ashdown and Suzanne Loker, two Cornell researchers, received the “best of show” award at the 10th annual National Textile Center Research Forum for their NTC-supported body scan research.

The researchers use a full- body scanner to produce 3D virtual images of subjects — first in a tight suit and then clothed — with the goal of finding “more objective measures of fit so companies can make better patterns and sizes,” said Susan Ashdown M.A. ’89.

“I believe we are only the third department in the country to have this equipment,” Ashdown said.

“This tool allows us for the first time to measure the distance between the clothes and the body,” she said. The body scanner does this by capturing some 300,000 data points in only 12 seconds,” he added.

No one has done this type of research before, so the researchers are having some problems finding computer software to analyze the data.

“Right now we are using a program that is used in the auto industry,” Ashdown said, and that such software is expensive. However, she said being part of NTC, “gives us access to funds and extends what we can do. It has changed my research and allow me to do things I could never have done without it.”

Cornell’s effort to join the NTC was supported by New York state’s legislators, including Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-26), Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY).

“The global pressure on the textiles and apparel industry in the United States is profound. New York state has the second-largest apparel industry in the United States, and its competitiveness requires innovative and effective technology development through basic research and implementation. Our work through the National Textile Center will provide research and outreach education to enhance the competitiveness of our apparel industry,” said Patsy Brannon, dean of the College of Human Ecology, in a press release.

The other NTC universities that Cornell joins are Auburn University, Clemson University, Georgia Institute of Technology, North Carolina State University, the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth College, Philadelphia University and the University of California-Davis.

Archived article by Luke Hejnar