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Form Felt Lab

Experiments in felting in the round

Novel Automated Three-Dimensional Felting Technology

Background

Designer/Maker, Deborah Loxam-Kohl, has developed a novel technology for felting wool into three-dimensional objects. The technology includes specialized manufacturing equipment as well as a proven process and a wide range of test results. The process is automated to a large extent and so can be adapted for large-scale manufacturing. The technology is adaptable, straightforward and simple to implement and operate. A fully formed felt object comes directly from the process, with no further processing required to produce a three-dimensional form.

Products manufactured with the technology are composed of high quality felt bearing all the qualities associated with wool, including durability, pleasing visual and tactile properties, moisture wicking and insulating abilities. The products have a smooth and attractive surface with uniform wall thickness, structural integrity, strong fabric matrix and are resistant to shrinkage and surface wear. Products can be comprised of both convex and concave shapes. The process has the potential to employ recycled wool and fibers other than wool, in combination with wool fibre.

The technology has been embodied in a small prototype. A larger manufacturing unit is under development. There are no apparent limits to the scale that can be achieved. We are seeking to license the technology to manufactures of small-scale equipment as well as to partners wishing to employ the technology at a larger industrial scale.

Areas of Application

Personal care:
• toiletry items
• packaging

Fashion Accessories:
• hats
• sports equipment
• promotional materials

Manufacturing:
• luggage
• storage
• components
• insulation / shock absorption

Medical Devices:
• orthopedic insoles
• components

Architectural:
• insulation
• acoustics
• decorative

Automotive:
• sound insulation
• vibration absorption
• filters

Competitive Advantages

This technology is the only automated method of producing a three-dimensional felt object. The ability of the technology to be scaled-up to produce large quantities is a significant advantage over other competitive product manufacturing methods, which involve cutting and fastening flat felt together to produce form. Products are denser, smoother and more resilient than industrial needle-felted wool and comparable in quality and finish to industrial wet-felted wool.

The process employs wool fibre to produce a self-supporting felted object, requiring no additional stiffeners or adhesives. The resulting product is non-toxic and hypoallergenic – characteristics valued in products with high purity requirements. Constructed with wool, a sustainable, natural resource, the product is fully biodegradable and recyclable.

The process offers a wide variation of product qualities and can easily be tailored to specific applications. With the integration of other fibres, novel fabrics and products can be created.

Publications

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

Intellectual Property

A patent covering the technology is being prosecuted in selected jurisdictions.

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