AFFOA Industry Day to showcase advances in fabric, textiles

FabricLeaders from the fabric and textile industry will join researchers and military officials in Athens on Oct. 20 to discuss the future of the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America partnership as part of the inaugural AFFOA Industry Day.

AFFOA, a public-private partnership launched this spring and funded in part by a $75 million commitment from the U.S. Department of Defense, seeks to accelerate innovation involving fibers and textiles through advances in manufacturing and engineering. The College of Engineering at the University of Georgia is a partner in the initiative.

UGA is hosting the event in partnership with Clemson University. Fellow Southeastern Conference schools Tennessee and Kentucky, among others, also will participate.

Among the many companies planning to participate are Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Oxford Industries and Brrr!, a company that produces cooling fabrics co-founded by UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences graduate Tosha Hays.

“We’re joining with companies large and small, universities and start-up incubators from around the U.S. to drive a manufacturing-based revolution by transforming traditional fibers, yarns and fabrics into highly sophisticated systems and devices for both consumer and defense applications,” said Gajanan Bhat, the Georgia Athletic Association Professor of Fibers and Textiles within the FACS department of textiles, merchandising and interiors.

Members of the AFFOA partnership include Fortune 500 companies as well as small and medium-sized companies spanning the electronics, materials, apparel, transportation, fashion, defense, medical and consumer good manufacturing sectors.

It also includes leaders of the fabric industry, such as Inman Mills, and leading research universities MIT, Cornell University, Drexel University, the University of Michigan, the University of California-Davis and the University of Texas at Austin.

“Because AFFOA is designed to accelerate innovation for U.S.-based manufacturing involving fibers and textiles, it’s critical we have industry partners engaged from the beginning,” Bhat said. “That’s exactly what this one-day workshop is intended to do.”

Among the speakers who will address the group is Ramanathan Nagarajan, a senior research scientist with the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, who will discuss emerging textile materials for the Department of Defense needs.

The Industry Day event also will include interactive sessions on emerging market trends and the formation of a Fabric Innovation Network to rapidly move innovations from prototype to pilot production.

Researchers from UGA and Clemson also will provide an overview of the latest developments in fiber science and engineering in the Southeast. A poster session will feature more than 20 posters highlighting the latest advances in fibers from the two institutions and others.

UGA researchers who will play critical roles in AFFOA include Sergiy Minko, Georgia Power Professor of Polymers, Fibers and Textiles, College of Family and Consumer Sciences and professor, department of chemistry, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences; Suraj Sharma, associate professor in the department of textiles, merchandising and interiors, College of Family and Consumer Sciences; and Jason Locklin, associate professor in the College of Engineering and department of chemistry, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

Researchers from the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center who conduct research on biopolymers also will contribute to research and development of new technical textiles. Innovation Gateway, UGA’s commercialization and startup arm, will be instrumental in bringing new technologies to the market, including a portfolio of 10 existing textile, fiber and polymer technologies.

The AFFOA Industry Day is a part of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences’ FACS Week, the college’s signature event that celebrates communities, academic excellence and the future of families.

For more information, visit or contact Crystal Leach at

WRITER: Cal Powell

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