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Bread waste + fungi = yarn (c) Photos by Kanishka Wijayarathna (bread waste), Erik Norving (prototypes), Andreas Nordin (researchers) and Sofie Svensson (microscope).
17.07.2024

Bread waste + fungi = yarn

The production of new materials from fungi is an emerging research area. In a research project at the Swedish School of Textiles at the University of Borås, wet spinning of fungal cell wall material has shown promising results. In the project, fungi were grown on bread waste to produce textile fibers with potential in the medical technology field.

Sofie Svensson's project addresses, among other things, the UN's Global Goals 9, sustainable industry, innovation, and infrastructure, and Goal 12, sustainable consumption and production, as the project aimed to use sustainable methods in a resource- and cost-effective way, with less impact on people and the environment.

Sofie Svensson, who recently defended her dissertation in the field of Resource Recovery, explained:

The production of new materials from fungi is an emerging research area. In a research project at the Swedish School of Textiles at the University of Borås, wet spinning of fungal cell wall material has shown promising results. In the project, fungi were grown on bread waste to produce textile fibers with potential in the medical technology field.

Sofie Svensson's project addresses, among other things, the UN's Global Goals 9, sustainable industry, innovation, and infrastructure, and Goal 12, sustainable consumption and production, as the project aimed to use sustainable methods in a resource- and cost-effective way, with less impact on people and the environment.

Sofie Svensson, who recently defended her dissertation in the field of Resource Recovery, explained:

“My research project is about developing fibres spun from filamentous fungi for textile applications. The fungi were grown on bread waste from grocery stores. Waste that would otherwise have a significant environmental impact if discarded.”

The novelty of the project lies in the method used – wet spinning of cell wall material.

“Wet spinning is a method used to spin fibres (filaments) from materials such as cellulose. In this project, cell wall material from filamentous fungi was used to produce fibres through wet spinning. The cell wall material from the fungi contains various polymers, mainly polysaccharides such as chitin, chitosan, and glucan. The challenge was to spin the material. It took some time initially before we found the right conditions”, explained Sofie Svensson.

Antibacterial properties
Filamentous fungi were cultivated in bioreactors to produce fungal biomass. Cell wall material was then isolated from the fungal biomass and used to spin a filament, which was tested for its suitability in medical applications.

“Tests of the fibers showed compatibility with skin cells and also indicated an antibacterial effect”, said Sofie Svensson, adding:

“In the method we worked with, we focused on using milder processes and chemicals. The use of hazardous and toxic chemicals is currently a challenge in the textile industry, and developing sustainable materials is important to reduce environmental impact.”

What is the significance of the results?
“New materials from fungi are an emerging research area. Hopefully, this research can contribute to the development of new sustainable materials from fungi”, explained Sofie Svensson.

Interest from the surrounding community has been significant during the project, and many have had a positive attitude toward the development of this type of material.

When will we see products made from these fibers?
“This particular method is at the lab scale and still in the research stage”, she explained.

The doctoral project was conducted within the larger research project Sustainable Fungal Textiles: A novel approach for reuse of food waste.

What is the next step in research on fungal fibers?
“Future studies could focus on optimizing the wet spinning process to achieve continuous production of fungal fibers. Additionally, testing the cultivation of fungi on other types of food waste.”

How have you experienced your time as a doctoral student in Resource Recovery?
“It has been an intense period as a doctoral student, and I have been really challenged and developed a lot.”

What is your next step?
“I will be taking parental leave for a while before taking the next step, which is yet to be decided.”

Sofie Svensson defended her dissertation on 14 June at the Swedish Centre for Resource Recovery, University of Borås.
 
Read the dissertation: Development of Filaments Using Cell Wall Material of Filamentous Fungi Grown on Bread Waste for Application in Medical Textiles

Opponent: Han Hösten, Professor, Utrecht University
Main Supervisor: Akram Zamani, Associate Professor, University of Borås
Co-Supervisors: Minna Hakkarainen, Professor, KTH; Lena Berglin, Associate Professor, University of Borå

Source:

University of Borås, Solveig Klug

AI AI generated women, Pixabay
09.07.2024

How the Fashion Industry Is Using AI

Nearly every industry is poised to undergo an unprecedented transformation with the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI). AI, in simple terms, refers to technology, often in the form of computer programs, designed to replicate the human brain’s ability to perform tasks and continuously improve.

Generative AI, powered by deep learning algorithms, is making a significant impact on fashion brands. This advanced technology has the capacity to comprehend patterns within data and generate entirely new examples of text, images and even video (Bain, 2023).

Because of its ability to create new content, the fashion industry is integrating its technology into nearly all of its processes in some way, from design and product descriptions to product recommendations and 3D design (Mcdowell, 2023a).

Table 1 provides a few real-world examples of how AI is already being used in the industry.

Nearly every industry is poised to undergo an unprecedented transformation with the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI). AI, in simple terms, refers to technology, often in the form of computer programs, designed to replicate the human brain’s ability to perform tasks and continuously improve.

Generative AI, powered by deep learning algorithms, is making a significant impact on fashion brands. This advanced technology has the capacity to comprehend patterns within data and generate entirely new examples of text, images and even video (Bain, 2023).

Because of its ability to create new content, the fashion industry is integrating its technology into nearly all of its processes in some way, from design and product descriptions to product recommendations and 3D design (Mcdowell, 2023a).

Table 1 provides a few real-world examples of how AI is already being used in the industry.

Category How it works Example
Fashion Design
  • Transforms textual descriptions or uploaded images into illustrations
  • Adjusts these designs before production
  • Cala’s tool with DALL-E technology
  • Tommy Hilfiger’s AI-Assisted Design Collaboration with IBM and the Fashion Institute of Technology
  • Project Muze by Google and Zalando
Visual Content and Marketing Imagery
  • Generates advertising and marketing content using given parameters or inputs
  • Text, images and videos are common outputs
  • Stitch Fix’s AI visuals
  • Casablancas Spring/Summer 2023 campaign
  • Revolve’s AI-driven ad campaign
Copywriting
  • Generates copy based on keywords and instructions provided by the user
  • Streamlines the process of creating product descriptions, marketing emails and other written content
  • Adore Me AI optimization
  • Product descriptions for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Shopping Assistants
  • Utilizes natural language processing to interact with customers as chatbots
  • Offers product recommendations and provides information
  • Kering’s experimental KNXT platform
  • Luxury personal shopper powered by ChatGPT

 

AI in design
Generative AI has the power to revolutionize fashion design. Designers can harness AI image generators like DALL-E, Midjourney or Stable Diffusion to bring their creative visions to life.

Cala, a supply chain startup, was the first group to harness AI in the design creation process for fashion brands. In January 2023 it introduced a tool that allows users to describe their design ideas in text or upload images which AI will then transform into illustrations or realistic images. Users can then fine tune these designs before turning them into physical products. This tool marks a pioneering use of the DALL-E API in the fashion industry, enabling the creation of clothing, accessories, shoes and lifestyle products based on descriptions or images (OpenAI, 2022).

Apparel brands are also leveraging this technology. Tommy Hilfiger collaborated with IBM and the Fashion Institute of Technology on a project named Reimagine Retail. This initiative aimed to give retailers a competitive advantage in the speed of forecasting emerging design trends by analyzing a vast array of data from images and fabrics to colors (Saunders, 2019).

While generative AI empowers designers to explore new concepts and ideas rapidly by generating various design variations, there are limitations to the technology. Manual editing and adjustments are often necessary as AI cannot turn all concepts into finished products. Concerns regarding intellectual property may also arise as some AI-generated designs could be based on copyrighted work. Legal issues in this area are still evolving, prompting brands to involve their legal teams and establish guidelines (Bain, 2023).

AI in Copywriting: Efficiency and personalization
Generative AI tools are serving as valuable assistants to marketing teams, streamlining the writing process for product descriptions and marketing emails. Copywriters input keywords and instructions and AI generates copy that can be edited as needed, enabling brands to produce written content more efficiently.

The lingerie brand Adore Me has been using AI tools to optimize product descriptions for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to make them more likely to appear at the top of search engine results (Mcdowell, 2023a). Adore Me and other brands using AI this way report dozens of hours in time savings.

Using AI’s potential to personalize content at a one-to-one level requires businesses to have structured first-party data and robust data privacy measures (Bain, 2023). For now, human oversight is still required, and web teams will likely need to make adjustments to established workflows in order to incorporate AI.

AI-enhanced visual content for fashion marketing
Generative AI is also being applied to create visual marketing content.
Stitch Fix uses AI to curate personalized clothing recommendations for customers and is exploring how it could use DALL-E 2 to visualize garments tailored to individual preferences for color, fabric and style (Davenport & Mittal, 2022).

French fashion house Casablanca Paris is also implementing AI. It collaborated with the British photographer and AI artist Luke Nugent for its Spring / Summer 2023 campaign. The AI-generated images blended dreamlike backdrops with cutting edge technology.

Fashion brands can benefit from reduced production times, cost savings and increased creative freedom by using AI-driven innovations to develop visual assets for marketing and ad campaigns. However, ensuring that AI-generated images accurately represent products can be tricky as the output may differ from the original product photos (Bain, 2023; Mcdowell, 2023a).

AI Chatbots: Transforming the shopping experience
Many retailers are also using generative AI as online shopping assistants, commonly known as chatbots. These chatbots use natural language processing to understand and respond to customer questions or even make personalized product recommendations (Zeng et al., 2023). For instance, within Kering’s experimental KNXT platform, a luxury personal shopper powered by ChatGPT provides tailored recommendations and insights to users based on specific contexts (Mcdowell, 2023b).

Despite these advantages, chatbot technology still has room for improvement. It may struggle to suggest the right products due to inventory constraints or provide somewhat generic styling suggestions. However these chatbots are a work in progress, and companies are confident that their AI tools’ language capabilities will continue to improve as they gather more data and user feedback.

As the fashion industry evolves, generative AI-driven chatbots have the potential to revolutionize the way customers interact with brands, offering increasingly personalized and efficient services.

A new industry standard
Businesses in the fashion, textile and apparel space can no longer be ambivalent or willfully ignorant about AI. They must do the research and reflection needed to develop a clear organizational stance on AI or risk getting left behind.

Organizational strategies for AI need to go beyond looking at the future trajectory of AI. Executives must set up clear objectives around how to integrate the technology into their workflows.

The customer base of each brand will be central to a successful AI strategy. This means understanding both their attitudes towards AI as well as their preferences and expectations.

Source:

Wilson College of Textiles, Yoo-Won Olivia Min and B. Ellie Jin

Empa researcher Edith Perret is developing special fibers that can deliver drugs in a targeted manner. Image EMPA
01.07.2024

Medical Fibers with "Inner Values"

Medical products such as ointments or syringes reach their limits when it comes to delivering medication locally – and above all in a controlled manner over a longer period of time. Empa researchers are therefore developing polymer fibers that can deliver active ingredients precisely over the long term. These "liquid core fibers" contain drugs inside and can be processed into medical textiles.

Medical products such as ointments or syringes reach their limits when it comes to delivering medication locally – and above all in a controlled manner over a longer period of time. Empa researchers are therefore developing polymer fibers that can deliver active ingredients precisely over the long term. These "liquid core fibers" contain drugs inside and can be processed into medical textiles.

Treating a wound or an inflammation directly where it occurs has clear advantages: The active ingredient reaches its target immediately, and there are no negative side effects on uninvolved parts of the body. However, conventional local administration methods reach their limits when it comes to precisely dosing active ingredients over a longer period of time. As soon as an ointment leaves the tube or the injection fluid flows out of the syringe, it is almost impossible to control the amount of active ingredient. Edith Perret from Empa's Advanced Fibers laboratory in St. Gallen is therefore developing medical fibers with very special "inner values": The polymer fibers enclose a liquid core with therapeutic ingredients. The aim: medical products with special capabilities, e.g. surgical suture material, wound dressings and textile implants that can administer painkillers, antibiotics or insulin precisely over a longer period of time. Another aim is to achieve individual, patient-specific dosage of the drug in the sense of personalized medicine.

Biocompatible and tailor-made
A decisive factor that turns a conventional textile fiber into a medical product is the material of the fiber sheath. The team chose polycaprolactone (PCL), a biocompatible and biodegradable polymer that is already being used successfully in the medical field. The fiber sheath encloses the valuable substance, such as a painkiller or an antibacterial drug, and releases it over time. Using a unique pilot plant, the researchers produced PCL fibers with a continuous liquid core by means of melt spinning. In initial lab tests, stable and flexible liquid-core fibers were produced. What's more, the Empa team had already successfully demonstrated, together with a Swiss industrial partner, that this process not only works in the lab but also on an industrial scale.

The parameters according to which the medical fibers release an enclosed agent were first investigated using fluorescent model substances and then with various drugs. "Small molecules such as the painkiller ibuprofen move gradually through the structure of the outer sheath," says Edith Perret. Larger molecules, on the other hand, are released at the two ends of the fibers.

Precisely controllable and effective in the long term
“Thanks to a variety of parameters, the properties of the medical fibers can be precisely controlled," explains the Empa researcher. After extensive analyses using fluorescence spectroscopy, X-ray technology and electron microscopy, the researchers were able to demonstrate, for instance, the influence of the sheath thickness and crystal structure of the sheath material on the release rate of the drugs from the liquid core fibers.

Depending on the active ingredient, the manufacturing process can also be adapted: Active ingredients that are insensitive to high temperatures during melt spinning can be integrated directly into the core of the fibers in a continuous process. For temperature-sensitive drugs, on the other hand, the team was able to optimize the process so that a placeholder initially fills the liquid core, which is replaced later on by the sensitive active ingredient.

One of the advantages of liquid core fibers is the ability to release the active ingredient from a reservoir over a longer period of time. This opens up a wide range of possible applications. With diameters of 50 to 200 micrometers, the fibers are large enough to be woven or knitted into robust textiles, for example. However, the medical fibers could also be guided inside the body to deliver hormones such as insulin, says Perret. Another advantage: Fibers that have released their medication can be refilled. The range of active ingredients that can be administered easily, conveniently and precisely using liquid core fibers is large. In addition to painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics and even lifestyle preparations are conceivable.

In a next step, the researchers want to equip surgical suture material with antimicrobial properties. The new process will be used to fill various liquid core materials with antibiotics in order to suture tissue during an operation in such a way that wound germs have no chance of causing an infection. Empa researcher Perret is also convinced that future collaboration with clinical partners will form the basis for further innovative clinical applications.

Aiming for clinical partnerships
Advancing a new technology? Identifying innovative applications? Empa researcher Edith Perret is looking for interested clinicians who recognize the potential of drug delivery via liquid core fibers and want to become active in this field.

 

Source:

Dr. Andrea Six, EMPA

Biofibers made from gelatin in a rainbow of colors. © Utility Research Lab
25.06.2024

Designers make dissolvable textiles from gelatin

Introducing the fashion of the future: a T-shirt you can wear a few times, then, when you get bored with it, dissolve and recycle to make a new shirt.

Researchers at the ATLAS Institute at the CU Boulder are now one step closer to that goal. In a new study, the team of engineers and designers developed a DIY machine that spins textile fibers made of materials like sustainably sourced gelatin. The group’s “biofibers” feel a bit like flax fiber and dissolve in hot water in minutes to an hour.

The team, led by Eldy Lázaro Vásquez, a doctoral student in the ATLAS Institute, presented its findings in May at the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Honolulu.

“When you don’t want these textiles anymore, you can dissolve them and recycle the gelatin to make more fibers,” said Michael Rivera, a co-author of the new research and assistant professor in the ATLAS Institute and Department of Computer Science.

Introducing the fashion of the future: a T-shirt you can wear a few times, then, when you get bored with it, dissolve and recycle to make a new shirt.

Researchers at the ATLAS Institute at the CU Boulder are now one step closer to that goal. In a new study, the team of engineers and designers developed a DIY machine that spins textile fibers made of materials like sustainably sourced gelatin. The group’s “biofibers” feel a bit like flax fiber and dissolve in hot water in minutes to an hour.

The team, led by Eldy Lázaro Vásquez, a doctoral student in the ATLAS Institute, presented its findings in May at the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Honolulu.

“When you don’t want these textiles anymore, you can dissolve them and recycle the gelatin to make more fibers,” said Michael Rivera, a co-author of the new research and assistant professor in the ATLAS Institute and Department of Computer Science.

The study tackles a growing problem around the world: In 2018 alone, people in the United States added more than 11 million tons of textiles to landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency—nearly 8% of all municipal solid waste produced that year.

The researchers envision a different path for fashion.

Their machine is small enough to fit on a desk and cost just $560 to build. Lázaro Vásquez hopes the device will help designers around the world experiment with making their own biofibers.

“You could customize fibers with the strength and elasticity you want, the color you want,” she said. “With this kind of prototyping machine, anyone can make fibers. You don’t need the big machines that are only in university chemistry departments.”

Spinning threads
The study arrives as fashionistas, roboticists and more are embracing a trend known as “smart textiles.” Levi’s Trucker Jacket with Jacquard by Google, for example, looks like a denim coat but includes sensors that can connect to your smartphone.

But such clothing of the future comes with a downside, Rivera said:

“That jacket isn't really recyclable. It's difficult to separate the denim from the copper yarns and the electronics.”

To imagine a new way of making clothes, the team started with gelatin. This springy protein is common in the bones of many animals, including pigs and cows. Every year, meat producers throw away large volumes of gelatin that doesn’t meet requirements for cosmetics or food products like Jell-O. (Lázaro Vásquez bought her own gelatin, which comes as a powder, from a local butcher shop.)

She and her colleagues decided to turn that waste into wearable treasure.

The group’s machine uses a plastic syringe to heat up and squeeze out droplets of a liquid gelatin mixture. Two sets of rollers in the machine then tug on the gelatin, stretching it out into long, skinny fibers—not unlike a spider spinning a web from silk. In the process, the fibers also pass through liquid baths where the researchers can introduce bio-based dyes or other additives to the material. Adding a little bit of genipin, an extract from fruit, for example, makes the fibers stronger.

Other co-authors of the research included Mirela Alistar and Laura Devendorf, both assistant professors in ATLAS.

Dissolving duds
Lázaro Vásquez said designers may be able to do anything they can imagine with these sorts of textiles.

As a proof of concept, the researchers made small textile sensors out of gelatin fibers and cotton and conductive yarns, similar to the makeup of a Jacquard jacket. The team then submerged these patches in warm water. The gelatin dissolved, releasing the yarns for easy recycling and reuse.

Designers could tweak the chemistry of the fibers to make them a little more resilient, Lázaro Vásquez said—you wouldn’t want your jacket to disappear in the rain. They could also play around with spinning similar fibers from other natural ingredients. Those materials include chitin, a component of crab shells, or agar-agar, which comes from algae.

“We’re trying to think about the whole lifecycle of our textiles,” Lázaro Vásquez said. “That begins with where the material is coming from. Can we get it from something that normally goes to waste?”

More information:
Gelatin biofibres DIY
Source:

University of Colorado Boulder | Daniel Strain