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Cover Story | October 2014

WRA: From woollen to sportech

Since its inception in 1963, the Wool Research Association (WRA) has been catering to the needs of woolen and allied industries through its dedicated R&D and technical services including testing & training. With Designation as ¨Centre of Excellence (COE) for Sportech¨ by Ministry of Textiles, Government of India under Technology Mission on Technical Textiles, WRA is all set to become a major testing and R&D centre for the segment with national and international collaborations.The products identified under Sportech for development & standardisation in Indian context are artificial turf, parachute fabrics, ballooning fabrics, sailing cloth, sleeping bags, sports nets, sports shoe components, tents, swimwear & various sports composites.

WRA in the meanwhile, upgrading its existing textile testing laboratories too, bringing in latest instruments and standard test methods thus extending its sole mission to serve Indian Textile Industry. OFDA 4000, Dry guarded hot plate and particle size analyser are a few new additions in pipeline.Textile testing laboratory is nationally accredited by NABL for ISO:17025 and internationally, by ´Interwoollabs´ (Bradford) for several of IWTO tests.

Background
Woollen textile and clothing sector plays an important role in linking the rural economy with the manufacturing industry, represented by cottage, small, medium and large scale units. The industry is broadly divided between the organized and decentralised sectors. The organised industry consists of composite mills, combing units, worsted and non-worsted spinning units, knitwear &woven garment units and machine-made carpet manufacturing units. The decentralised industry is composed of hosiery and knitting, powerloom, hand knotted carpets and independent dyeing and processing houses. Besides, there are innumerable manufacturers of shawl, druggets, namdas, hand spun yarns, etc. in the cottage industry.From the complex composition of the wool sector it is well appreciated that R&D inputs and support will, per se, greatly differ to cater for divergent technological demand of these sub sectors dealing with wool & other speciality animal fibres.Research focus at WRA in recent years is illustrated below: R&D initiatives R&D initiatives in wool growing countries like Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, etc are mainly restricted to improvement of wool quality and productivity. Manufacturers of woollen end items like the UK, Italy, China, India, etc. have been engaged in the technological areas of product and process development of woollens or machineries development.

Overall R&D achievements
WRA pioneered in development and technology absorption in the country in respect of computer colour matching (CCM), computer-aided design (CAD), various product and process development, wool based technical textiles, pashmina scouring plant, technology development of wild eri-silk/wool blends, moth-proofing, substitutes for carcinogenic asbestos products, fire fighting textiles, characterization of various Indian wools, carpet finishing, wool/jute blankets, brake liners, FR treated automotive textiles, elastomeric sports knitwear, etc. Quite a few achievements have been commericalised or are under patenting.Development of itch-free woolens, total colour solutions through internet, ultrasound technology in processing and dry scouring, anaerobic technologies and electro-flocculation to treat effluents were the areas dealt with in the last few years.

Presently, WRA is engaged in various R&D Projects sponsored by the Ministry of Textiles, the Central Wool Development Board, the Department of Science & Technology, the National Jute Board, etc. focusing different sub-sectors.

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