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Hong Kong - The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel has been honoured for its development of a sweater finishing process which it claims is significantly more sustainable than traditional techniques.

The HKRITA's research project – Revolutionary Relaxation Process for Sweater Manufacturing – was selected as one of the winners of the R&D 100 Awards in the category of Process/Prototyping.

Working closely with The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), HKRITA’s award-winning project involved research into restoring the desired properties and performance of knitted fabrics using a novel relaxation process.

Relaxation of knitted fabrics is a prerequisite to restoration of their properties and performance, and HKRITA has developed a low pressure relaxation (LPR) process. Unlike the conventional washing and tumble drying (WTD) process, which features mechanical agitation, the LPR process applies micro-agitation to achieve sweater relaxation.

In this way, the LPR process restores more effectively the sweater properties of dimensional stability, fabric appearance and hand feel. The process is based on the principle that when air pressure drops, water evaporates and its volume expands.

The force field created by water vapour expansion in a garment acts on its fibres and yarns. An agitation action occurs, which has a relaxation effect on the garment.

According to Mr Edwin Keh, Chief Executive Officer of HKRITA, the new process is far more sustainable than the conventional one since it is faster, consumes less energy and discharges no water. “We are delighted to receive this highly respected award. It is a significant recognition of our endeavors in research and development. The novel low pressure relaxation process, which successfully addresses the limitations of the traditional relaxation process, is a breakthrough in sweater manufacturing.

"With the increasing awareness of sustainability across industries and governments around the globe, all textile and apparel industry stakeholders, including HKRITA, strive to develop solutions that minimize the environmental impacts of textile manufacturing. The LPR showcases how our industry can utilize technology to protect the environment while, at the same time, improving manufacturing efficiency.”

The R&D 100 Award is one of the world’s most prestigious innovation awards programmes. It honours R&D pioneers and revolutionary ideas in science and technology.

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