The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (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. The project involved joint collaboration with The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU).
The R&D 100 Award is one of the world’s most prestigious innovation awards programs. It honors R&D pioneers and revolutionary ideas in science and technology. 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 the 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 vapor expansion in a garment acts on its fibers and yarns. An agitation action occurs, which has a relaxation effect on the garment. The new process is far more sustainable than the conventional one since it is faster, consumes less energy and discharges no water.