Improved wrinkle recovery technology for wool
Recovery of wrinkles in a pair of trousers after 20 hours wear followed by 24 hours conditioning (left leg is treated and right leg is the control).
Wool fabrics have better resistance to wrinkling and better wrinkle recovery than other natural fibres such as cotton. However, the wrinkle recovery of wool deteriorates under very high humidities causing a problem for light-weight men’s suits, trousers and travel apparel in particular. Cotton has taken market share in this area by introducing low to zero ironing and wrinkle-resist fabrics. There is considerable opportunity for increasing the demand for fine wool fabrics if wrinkle resistance and recovery can be enhanced.
Over the years various methods have been tried to improve the wrinkle recovery properties of wool, such as incorporating bulky molecules, modifying cross-linking, and coating with polymers. However, none of these methods were commercialised as they either adversely affected softness and colour, or were impractical because of the high chemical costs, excessive processing times, or environmental concerns.
Building on an understanding of the formation and recovery of wrinkles at the molecular level, AgResearch scientists have developed a novel and practical treatment that significantly improves the wrinkle recovery of wool fabrics without impairing their soft feel. Wrinkle recovery was improved from grade 2.5 to 4.5 (on a scale of 1 to 5) as measured by the international recognised AATCC Test Method 128.
AgResearch is seeking industry partners for the commercialisation of this technology.