The U.S. Department of Defense has selected the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to run a $317 million public-private partnership to run a Manufacturing Innovation Partnership to create and manufacture new, high-tech textile products. The initiative is known as AFFOA, Advanced Functional Fabrics of America.
The Textile Technology Center of Gaston College is among the partners which includes 32 universities, 16 industry members, 72 manufacturing entities and 26 startup incubators. The partners are in 27 states and Puerto Rico. N.C. State University College of Textiles and the Manufacturing Solutions Center at Catawba Valley Community College are participating.
An overview of the partnership structure and mission was given to SYFA attendees in Charlotte by Carole Winterhalter of the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research Center. She stressed that the institute will identify opportunities for breakthroughs in high-tech products and pursue commercialization of those with the most potential. The new fibers and fabrics made from them will have the ability “to see, hear, and sense their surroundings…communicate, store and convert energy, monitor health, control temperature, and change color,” a MIT news release reports.
The initiative will focus on the manufacturing of products and the training of production personnel. The Textile Technology Center and the Manufacturing Solutions Center are pushing for a role in personnel training.