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Beyond the Bale : Oct 07 - Nov 07
By Melissa Marino We all know that wearing pure Australian Merino feels great, looks fantastic and keeps the wearer warm and dry. Most people, especially woolgrowers, know that these attributes are not accidental -- that they are derived from the inherent nature of the fibre. But how many people can actually explain why? An area of AWI's 'Merino Innovation' website spells it out, giving scientific proof of the many fantastic qualities of Merino wool and going some way to demonstrating why synthetics manufacturers have little chance of getting anywhere close to a wool fibre, which is as complex as it is natural. This graphic of a cross-section of a single Merino fibre, shows just where the benefits come from -- benefits that can be demonstrated in four distinct areas: comfort, safety, style and convenience. For example, did you know that it is the scales on the fibre that keep you dry? And that those scales also help resist stains? And that wool provides superior insulation, absorption and breathability, reducing odour and helping to keep you cool when hot and hot when cool? And that is just the beginning. A waxy lipid coating on the scales of the Merino fibre lowers its surface energy, making it naturally water-repellent. A single Merino fibre can absorb a third of its weight in water, and a Merino garment up to 60 per cent of its own weight before it feels wet to the touch, due to both the fibre's ability to bond moisture within its internal structure and its bulky surface nature. In CSIRO tests, Merino fibres were able to absorb and transport 27 per cent more moisture away from the body than a polyester fabric of equivalent construction. Not only does this make us feel more comfortable, but it also makes life more pleasant for those around us, for while sweat itself has no odour, it creates an unpleasant smell when it reacts with the skin. Therefore, the more efficiently it is removed, the less the impact. As well as keeping us comfortable, Merino is also able to keep us safe. It offers antistatic properties, fire and UV resistance, and is being investigated in the production of improved bullet-proof vests. Research has also demonstrated several other health benefits of Australian Merino including improved sleep for most people, increased weight gain and reduced risk of SIDS for babies, and lower incidence of microbial infection and bedsores for hospital patients. There is also a complex set of natural features to explain Merino's superior style traits including wrinkle resistance, ability to colour to deep rich shades, handle and drape, stain resistance, tailorability and permanent press (Merino has a protein that has the ability to be permanently set so that creases and pleats are stable to wetting and dry cleaning). The fibre's convenience, its durability (it can be bent 20,000 times without breaking), machine washability when appropriately treated, and elasticity (when wet, a Merino fibre can be extended up to 30 per cent without damage) also have specific science behind them. ú More information: www.merinoinnovation.com/proof Wool under the microscope The incredible range of wool's properties -- from breathability and stain resistance to its antimicrobial qualities -- can all be traced back to the structure of each individual fibre AWI has updated its award-winning 'Merino Innovation' website (www.merinoinnovation.com) to make it even easier for retailers, manufacturers, designers and processors to find information about using Australian Merino wool. Existing information has been re-categorised to make relevant information easier to find, and useful new information has been added. The website provides: ú information about the benefits of Merino wool over other fibres; ú insights into fashion, consumer and industry trends; ú details of the range of new textile technology innovations that are available; ú sourcing guides for Merino wool fabrics and yarns; ú a directory of designers using Merino wool; ú technical information for wool processors; and ú marketing support to help companies communicate the benefits of Australian Merino wool in their product ranges. Of particular note is that technical information for wool processors, which used to be on AWI's 'Wool on the Web' website, is now at a new 'Technical details' area of the Merino Innovation website. The website also aims to bring AWI closer to commercial partners, such as global retailers and fashion designers.The website is helping enable AWI to provide its business partners with knowledge, innovation and marketing support. From information on new types of Merino wool fabrics, to the interests of consumers, the website is helping Australian Merino wool remain a step ahead of the competition -- to get new wool products and innovations into the global marketplace and to build demand for Australian Merino wool. In March 2007, the Merino Innovation website received the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA) Award for the Best Corporate or Business-to-Business website.The AIMIA awards are the peak awards for the interactive media and digital content sectors in Australia. 10 SCIENCE BEYOND THE BALE Revamped Merino Innovation website ILLUSTRATION: CSIRO Cross-section of a Merino fibre Anti-static Renewable biodegradable Intermediate filament (microfibril) Anti-wrinkle Machine washable Elasticity Wicking Fire resistant Ballistic protection Colour Sound proof Breathablility Multi-climate Warmth Sweat removal Quick drying Softness UV protection Tailorablility Healthy Stain resistant Odour reducing Water repellent Macrofibrill Durable Cell membrane complex Cuticle F-layer : fatty acid layer Epicuticle Exocuticle Endocuticle Permanent press Matrix Fibre diameter Cor tex Right handed ∂ -helix Left-handed coiled-coil rope
Aug 07 - Sep 07 Supplement
Dec - Jan 08