Graduate Students Sponsored by the Nonwovens Institute Get Exciting Opportunity at IDEA 2013

L to R:  Back Row: Raghu Arambakam (VCU), Ning Sun, Syamal Tallury, Richard Padbury, Dennis Luzius, Annette Schenk, Jonathan Halbur, Stephen Tuin, Front Row: Wei Wei, Ya-Ting Su, Nasim Farahbakhsh, Hannah Stoughton, Mahsa Mohiti Asli, Fatemah Bateny, Jennifer Leary, Hooman Amid

Written by: Richard Padbury, FPS Ph.D. Candidate

The Nonwovens Institute (NWI) at the Wilson College of Textiles is the World’s first accredited program in Nonwovens Science and Engineering.  The students sponsored currently by the Institute come from the Colleges of Textiles, Engineering and Natural Resources as well as partner institutions, University of Illinois at Chicago, Virginia Commonwealth University and Loughborough University (UK).  NWI’s academic research arm, The Nonwovens Cooperative Research Center (NCRC), currently sponsors over 30 Ph.D. students supported through its corporate members and NATICK Soldier Center.

The IDEA show (INDA.org) is the premier nonwovens exhibition and exposition that occurs every three years.

INDA provided space at the Expo and through the sponsorship of some of NWI’s key partners, NWI sponsored 19 students who attended IDEA in Miami this year.  14 of these students are advised by Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science faculty and/or adjunct faculty.

Situated just a few blocks away from the palm tree lined boardwalks of South beach and close to the culinary delights of Lincoln Street and Ocean Drive, IDEA 2013 kicked off at the Miami Beach Convention Center on April 22nd and ran through April 25th.  IDEA, International Engineered Fabrics Conference and Exposition, is the only International nonwovens and engineered fabrics event of the year.  With 375 exhibiting companies from 70 countries around the world, IDEA is regarded as “the premier global nonwovens event.”  Thousands of representatives from companies spanning the entire nonwovens value chain and market segments descended on Miami Beach to discover the latest innovations in engineered fabric technology from roll goods to machinery and to obtain new and exciting ideas for their businesses.  The conference also provided the perfect opportunity for customers to evaluate products before purchasing them and to discuss their needs with industry experts, all from one location.

While the typical IDEA conference attendees are sales and marketing executives, corporate R&D and senior engineering executives alike, there is always a twist at the IDEA show.  Spanning almost the entire length of the exhibition hall, Graduate Students representing NC State’s Nonwovens Cooperative Research Center (NCRC) set up poster boards demonstrating their novel and exciting research projects.  At the NCRC, in addition to understanding and advancing nonwoven web formation, research projects help bridge knowledge gaps and target significant scientific challenges within Fiber and Polymer Science; Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; Materials Science and Engineering; Mechanical Engineering; and Paper Science and Engineering.  These interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs have a central focus on the use of nonwovens as a unique and interesting material to help solve specific engineering challenges for a number of key market segments that are dominated by nonwovens.  Core research projects include the investigation of composite nonwovens for high strength and heat applications, conductive nonwovens, surface modified nonwovens for filtration and barrier applications, fabrics with shape memory, bio nonwovens for tissue engineering, healing and drug delivery, and unique hybrid fabrics that unify the material properties of ceramics with a flexible fiber matrix.  It was, therefore, a fantastic opportunity for graduate students to interact with industry experts from around the world and showcase their fascinating research projects.  Furthermore, it provided industry executives with an exclusive opportunity to discover the future innovations of the nonwovens industry.

Altogether, 19 graduate student representatives of the NCRC attended IDEA 2013 each sponsored by a member company of the NCRC.  During the conference, graduate students met with their industry sponsors.  The students also had an opportunity to also walk the show, interact with the exhibitors and answer questions related to their research programs.

It was a busy four days at IDEA 2013.  As the show came to an end and the weary representatives began to disassemble their booths, there was an air of satisfaction and accomplishment that filled the exhibition hall as many meetings, demonstrations, discussions and business transactions had taken place throughout the week.  For the 19 graduate students who attended IDEA 2013, the show provided a fantastic opportunity to interact and learn to partner with industry experts and it also highlighted, first hand, the diverse range of exciting products developed by the nonwovens industry.  Through their varied research projects, the show also proved that graduate students of NC State’s Wilson College of Textiles are also at the forefront of engineered fabric technology and the future leaders of the nonwovens industry.

The Nonwovens Institute would like to thank INDA, ExxonMobil, Johnson and Johnson, Hollingsworth and Vose, Freudenberg Nonwovens, BASF, Procter and Gamble, Dilo Inc., FiberVisions, Kimberly Clark Corporation, American Treuzschler Inc., Dow Chemical and LINC LLC for making it possible for our students to attend IDEA 2013.