UML Fabric Discovery Center
The UMass Lowell Fabrics Discovery Center will concentrate on the development, testing, and manufacturing of consumer and commercial fabrics that are blended with flexible electronics. The center will occupy the first floor, second floor, and the canal level, of 110 Canal with a unique combination of interdisciplinary research programs. For advanced textiles and fiber-based materials, UMass Lowell's vision is to provide a unique advanced manufacturing, testing, and gateway innovation facility. The facility will serve the needs of organizations in Massachusetts and the region to rapidly transform textile product concepts into functional prototypes. The facility will be an end-to-end fabric innovation ecosystem with capabilities ranging from resin compounding equipment, fiber extrusion lines, textile assembly (e.g., knitting, weaving), and textile finishing (e.g., coating, digital printing, bonding/seaming) equipment. Testing capabilities will include mechanical and thermal properties, flammability, permeability, and durability. This pilot production and test facility will enable companies to evaluate new fiber additives and fiber materials, new modifications to assembly and finishing, and new designs, allowing for the most promising technologies to be quickly identified and evaluated. The Fashion Maker Space area will be used to transform materials and patterns into test products, which, in turn, will be evaluated in test environments at the co-located NERVE Center. The New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation (NERVE) Center, is a dedicated research, testing, and training facility. The mission of the NERVE Center is to improve the development of robotic systems by both academic researchers and corporations by facilitating evaluation throughout the design cycle. Physical Therapy researchers will also help evaluate and inform product development through motion capture and gait studies.
The first floor will include spaces for all three research functions, including a Fabrics Makerspace, the Physical Therapy Labs, and much of the NERVE Center research, testing, and training facilities. The second floor will house the Fibers’ Fabrication, Conditioning, and Evaluation Rooms, shared offices, a conference room, and technical and staff work stations. The NERVE “arm farm” and “autonomous vehicle testing” platforms will also be located on the second floor. NERVE storage, Fabrics’ storage, washer/dryer system and autoclave, as well as the PH Neutralization system (water treatment) and compressor will be in the basement.
If you are interested in learning more about the Fabcrics Discovery Center Project, please contact Ned Collier, Education Studio Principal.