Innovative and sustainable textile programs launched during 2022 TELA Conference

The issues of climate change, sustainable environment, and circular economy can no longer be ignored if we are to help nurture planet Earth, the only home we’ve got. For years now, the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST-PTRI) has put this agenda at the forefront of its various R&D projects and activities.  

On the occasion of DOST-PTRI’s 55th anniversary, it has launched several innovative and sustainable programs and products to advance the textile industry in the Philippines at the TELA Conference held virtually on 27 January 2022. The TELA Conference is also part of the celebration the 22 Philippine Tropical Fabrics (PTF) Month.

With the theme, “Weaving a Creative, Sustainable, and Inclusive Future of Philippine Textiles, Today”, the conference served as a venue to bring together the Philippine Tropical Fabrics (PTF) stakeholders and active partners to witness the launching of the latest and sought-after PTF-related R&D programs and products.

In his message, DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña emphasized the growth in the textile industry with the relentless and unwavering efforts of DOST-PTRI. 

“DOST-PTRI has launched and implemented numerous projects and initiatives that engaged the local textile producers in the regions by establishing innovation hubs. I joined PTRI in calling for the support of the textile industry by wearing textile Philippine products whether we are from the government or not. Truly, PTRI is alive at 55.”

In her welcome remarks, DOST-PTRI Director Celia B. Elumba highlighted the importance of celebrating the Philippine Tropical Fabrics Month to sustain the gains and engage more active participation from government institutions and local industries on the use of PTF as well as local natural fibers.

“The institute has been heralding natural textile development for decades and has championed the use of Philippine Tropical Fabrics. But without the systems, orientation, and strong collaboration among the national, the regional, the academe, and the industry, the potentials of the applied research in the textile industry will remain potential. It is our goal that this potential becomes real,” Elumba highlighted. 

DOST-PTRI introduced promising milestones and flagship programs the institute has been doing in recent years to advance the Philippine textiles industry, incorporating the collaboration mentioned by Director Elumba.  

Handloom Natural Textile Fiber-blended Weaving Yarns

Through the project titled “Finishing Technology for Philippine Natural Fiber-blended yarns and Fabrics”, the institute developed eco-friendly and sustainable weaving yarns with enhanced properties, performance, and aesthetics. 

DOST-PTRI’s natural textile fiber yarns for handloom weaving are made from cotton, pineapple, and abaca and available in multiple colors that was achieved using low impact dyeing or natural dyeing finished with singeing and mercerization. Singeing reduces hairs through combustion, while mercerization strengthens yarns using alkaline solutions.

These strengthened yarns are suitable for warp and weft handloom weaving and power loom weaving that can produce high-quality fabrics that are 100% Philippine-made natural yarns. Improving tensile strength with significant properties enhances the luster and durability of yarns. These yarns are already being used in Ilocos Sur, Isabela and Batangas. 

Spunlaids Nonwovens R&D Program 

The program aims to provide an alternative raw material for spunlaid nonwoven through agricultural byproduct utilization and biopolymers for nonwoven textiles. Industries can use these materials for packaging filtration in the agro-industrial, geotextile, and medical sectors. 

The main application that the program aims to target is the packaging industry for tea bags and coffee filters and the agro-industrial and geotextile industry through the production of crop covers, geodesic domes, mulching fabric, and other geo industrial products.

This initiative will build on the local capability toward self-reliance and provide textile innovations suited for regional integration while addressing proper waste management and circularity concerns. 

As part of the program, the Nonwoven Innovation Center will also serve as a central facility for conducting research, development, and innovations to diversify the Philippine textile industry. Nonwoven production lines, specialized nonwoven textile equipment, and R&D lab are situated here. 

Bamboo Textiles PH 

With the growing interest in sustainable textile materials and processing technology, bamboo emerges as an indigenous textile fiber source that has been continuously endeavored and vigorously promoted by DOST-PTRI. 

The Bamboo Textiles PH is a collection of the institute’s R&D ventures on bamboo for green textiles applications to ensure quality and responsible production. It advocates the use of diverse Philippine bamboo species and their conversion to natural bamboo textile products.

With its expansion this 2022, it will explore a greener and more sustainable approach to natural bamboo textile fiber treatment. It will provide suitable processing technology adaptation and eventually establish innovation hubs in different parts of the country. 

The 2022 Philippine Textile Colloquium

The first-ever Philippine Textile colloquium will highlight research and development, including designs and innovations from textile materials like dyes, colorants, garment industry, digitalization, policy and trade research, consumerism, and product development. 

It will bring together students, faculty members, industry, and research institutes to discuss textile as a material field of specialization. It also includes an exhibition and a fashion show that will showcase students’ works, thesis, and designs. 

Digitalization of Handloom Weaving Industry R&D Program

Weaving spans centuries of tradition across different indigenous cultures. It represents the largest community in the creative textile sector. Employed by most women who represent one of the vulnerable sectors of our society, the proliferation of handloom textile is the livelihood of our weavers and living testament to our cultural roots. 

In response to this problem, the DOST-PTRI launched the ‘Digitalization of Handloom Weaving Industry R&D Program’ to offer technological solutions supporting the anti-counterfeiting campaign for Philippine Handloom Woven Textiles. 

This program will address the counterfeit textiles in the industry and respond to other challenges that the Philippine handloom weaving industry faces, including the profiling of the weaving industry demographics and the preservation of traditional knowledge. 

SAFATOS: Shoes and footwear Accessories R&D Towards Omnibus Solutions

The SAFATOS program (Shoes and footwear Accessories R&D Towards Omnibus Solutions) aims to provide material and digital solutions for the footwear industry. It strives to integrate the elements of Industry 4.0 in the Philippine footwear industry and provide S&T-based solutions to ensure local material availability and enhance the competitiveness of the local footwear industry.

The program seeks to include the power of computer-aided tools and digitalization in the textile and footwear manufacturing sector. Aim to launch Footwear 4.0, this initiative seeks to have novel, innovative, and sustainable textile materials in all shoe parts while integrating digitalization, automation, and additive manufacturing into the process. 

The SAFATOS program includes two-component projects. First is the ‘Sustainable Textiles for the Community-based Philippine Footwear Industries or STePHF-In’. It aims to promote high performance, locally designed, and locally sourced textile fiber and materials in shoes. It will prioritize computer-aided design, manufacturing, and quality control of the footwear. It will also explore new technologies such as personalized knitting of shoe uppers and functionalization of woven and knitted fabric.

The second project, ‘3D-Warp Knitted Natural Textile Fiber-based Spacer Fabrics for the Local Footwear Industry,’ strives to innovate the use of spacer fabrics which are 3D fabrics that have highly customizable cushioning, starting with orthotic shoe insoles to address specific foot problems and customizing the fabric properties. 

The program aims to develop a high-performance shoe material for customizable comfort augmented with orthopedic and mechanical performance testing.

In support of these innovations, House Representative of Antique and House Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, in her key speech, said “Through these initiatives, we endeavor to promote, preserve, and sustain the main traditional textile methods deeply rooted in the Filipino culture.”

Also, during the Tela Conference, 2021 Binibinibing Pilipinas Miss International, Hannah Arnold, officially graced the 2022 TELA Exhibition that featured various research and development products developed in recent years. 

To know more about these programs, visit DOST-PTRI’s website (https://ptri.dost.gov.ph/) or email ptri.tips@ptri.dost.gov.ph.