Three-Dimensional (3-D) Form Felting Machine & Process

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					   Three-Dimensional (3-D)
Form Felting Machine & Process

         By Deborah Loxam-Kohl

 International Wool Textile Organization (IWTO)
        World Wool Award Recipient 2005
      for ‘Concept, Innovation & Extension’
The Three-Dimensional Form Felting Machine & Process:

                          • produces form directly from
                            raw material
                          • utilizes the natural ability of
                            wool to felt
                          • operates using the wet-felting
                          • employs heat, moisture and
                          • uses pure wool, or wool
                            blended with natural and/or
                            synthetic fibres
                   Qualities of felted wool
                          Pleasing to touch
                      Holds colour beautifully
                       Warm and comfortable
                          Consistent nape
                      Cuts without unravelling
                       Durable and protective
                           Wicks moisture
           Retains its insulating abilities even when wet
       Insulates against temperature, sound, and vibration
Softness and lightness like silk, or thickness and rigidity like leather

        All are desirable characteristics that lend themselves to
         domestic, commercial and industrial applications.
    The quality of felt produced using the machine:

• smooth surface texture
• uniform wall thickness
• consistent density
• strong fibre matrix
• structural integrity
• excellent surface wear
• resistance to further
• concave or convex forms
Advantages for the consumer:

             expresses the warmth, comfort
              and ease of wear associated with
             access to unique products that
              were previously unavailable
             simplified care instructions and
              reduced fibre shrinkage
             long wearing and non-pilling
             made from a renewable natural
              resource that is non-toxic and
              eco friendly
         Commercial benefits for the retailer:

 a unique product not found elsewhere
 upholds the aesthetic qualities of wool desired by the consumer
 a product requiring less maintenance and care for the consumer
 a material with structural integrity, stability and resistance to
  surface wear
 reduction in consumer returns due to shrinkage or complex care
 reduction in inventory losses and labour costs related to customer
 increased customer confidence in product
              Benefits to the wool industry:

 the ability to position wool within the non-wovens industry
 the ability to compete with synthetic-fibre, non-woven products
 a product with comparable physical properties to heat-pressed spun-
  polyester fibre products
 an increased efficiency in production
 producing felt components directly from wool batting, rather than
  having to construct forms from flat felt pieces
 significant improvements in product quality and design when
  applying the technology to existing manufacturing methods
 a process that lends itself to mass-manufacturing methods
 an affordable and easy to integrate addition to existing felt
  manufacturing systems
      An example of products made from felt:
• fashion accessories: hats, boots, shoes, and handbags
• insulating panels in automobiles that protect against sound,
  vibration and temperature
• air, oil and water filters, wicks and gaskets in automobiles
• orthopedic insoles
• stereo speaker cones
• acoustic wall and ceiling panels

       Next to paper, felt is the second most ubiquitous material
         in our surroundings, however, it is usually hidden
               beneath the surface of other materials.
                 Current methods of manufacture:

• Die-cutting pattern pieces of flat felt, which are scored, folded, and glued or sewn together
  to create form.
• Turning thick pieces of flat felt on a lathe to create tubes, which are cut and bent into
  circles, the ends sewn together to create ‘o’ rings.
• Injecting fibres with resin and pressing them into a mould.

   In each case, a 3-D felted-wool form could be produced:
        • simplifying the method of manufacture
        • providing a product with more structural integrity
        • eliminating the need for chemical stiffeners
Potential applications of the technology:

                     • Moulded luggage, computer
                       and archival storage cases.
                     • Non-obtrusive, aesthetically
                       engineered shock-absorbent
                       pads for protection in sports,
                       physiotherapy, and the design
                       of prosthetics.
                     • Lightweight, custom moulded
                       packaging to fit electronics and
                       digital devices.
                     • Shock dampening applications
                       in computer equipment.
               Innovative applications:

• Engineered pressure-point
  pads for astronaut suits in
  zero gravity environments
• Engineered felted-wool cuff
  with integrated computation
  device (Hewlett-Package).
• Recycled, macerated wool
  fibres in a reconstituted
  liquid medium, cast into
  forms for insulation and
  packaging, or components.
Blended with other fibres:

             • Properties of wool are enhanced
               and transformed.
             • Research and testing indicate both
               natural and artificial fibres can be
               integrated into the wool felting
             • A new material emerges that
               retains the qualities of wool felt,
               while         exhibiting        new
             • Potential exists to utilize recycled
               fibres from garment industry.
      Benefits of the Felting Machine & Process:

• produces a superior quality felt
• produces a 3-D form, in-the-round, directly from raw materials
• eliminates die-cutting pattern pieces from flat felt, that are scored,
  folded, and glued or sewn together to produce form
• makes the manufacture of forms more efficient
• forms retain their shape without the use of stiffeners or adhesives
• applicable to industries with stringent purity regulations requiring
  natural, non-toxic, hypoallergenic, or environmentally friendly
  processes or materials
  ie: soundproof wall panels for residential, commercial and industrial
  uses; garments or accessories worn on the body
       The 3-D Felting Machine and Process

• an innovative solution to the production of felted-wool forms
• represents a technical breakthrough that adds to our knowledge
  and understanding of the properties of wool and its applications
• research and development will reveal its value as an innovative
  method of manufacture for non-woven goods
• when applied to various industries, will initiate the development
  of groundbreaking new products
• has the potential to increase the development and distribution of
  wool through widespread applications in domestic, commercial
  and industrial applications

Description: A summary of the features and benefits of the Three-Dimensional (3-D) Form Felting Machine and Process developed by Deborah Loxam-Kohl of Form Felt Lab.
D. Loxam-Kohl D. Loxam-Kohl Owner/Principal