The Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility (NCTRF) develops new clothing and gear for Navy and other military uses. Construction techniques generally involve sewing, usually double stitched for reinforcement. With new capabilities deriving from waterproof/breathable fabrics, garment fabrication includes the extra process step of seam taping all the sewn seams. This process is labor intensive, and adds weight and bulk to garments. Overlapping and complex seams in general add bulk, reduce comfort, and are prone to abrasion and failure.
New techniques are emerging that can weld and/or bond fabrics together, creating lighter garments with flat, waterproof seams. These garments are currently found in high end recreational outerwear. Attempts to adopt these techniques at NCTRF have been unsuccessful considering Navy’s demanding material and application requirements, and their fabrication capabilities. Through the SBIR program, Navy is seeking to advance the state-of-the-art in bonded garment construction methods. Bonding fabrics involves a similar fabrication skill set as sewing, but requires a much greater knowledge of the materials being joined, including the use of adhesives, heat, pressure, and reinforcements, in order to achieve bonds as strong or stronger than sewn seams.
Kennon Products, of Sheridan, has proposed to explore and develop bonded fabrication techniques for NCTRF’s use, and also to expand Kennon’s fabrication capabilities. Kennon will utilize its own expertise in materials, as well as expertise at Auburn, and an established network of specialty material suppliers, to develop effective methods for advancing military and commercial garment and gear construction.
Kennon was supported in developing this proposal through a Wyoming SBIR Strategic Initiative (WSSI) Phase 0 grant. WSSI operates out of the University of Wyoming, and assists and supports Wyoming’s small businesses in developing new technologies and capabilities.