Textile production Research and Innovation Center

                1.  About the Research Centre

Textile Production Research and Innovation Center (TPRiC) has had a rather interesting history. Fundamentally, it has its roots going back to the year 1963 when the former Bahir Dar Polytechnic Institute, now upgraded to EiTEX and Bahir Dar Institute of Technology (BiT), was founded to provide advanced diploma level education in textile technology and other fields of study. The degree courses in Textile Engineering started in 1997 and the first M.Sc. course in textile technology was launched in January 2010.

Considering the role of the textile sector to the agriculture-led and export-oriented industrialization and economic growth, the government of Ethiopia upgraded the Department of Textile Engineering to an institute level in 2009 to function semi-autonomously under Bahir Dar University with its own separate campus. EiTEX, one of the ten technology institutes in Ethiopia, is working hard to be a center of excellence in the area of textiles. The institute is developing essential infrastructures that are conducive to teaching-learning, research, consultancy and community services, and technology transfer. Due to the expansion of programs, an increasing number of teaching staff and the demand of textile industry as well as SMEs, EiTEX has launched four pillar research and innovation centers in 2011 to realize its vision, where one of the centers is TPRiC.

The overarching objective of TPRiC is to be the center of excellence in teaching-learning, research and innovation, testing, consultancy and community services, and technology transfer. These core activities of the center would enable in providing efficient support to the textile industry and small-scale enterprises, especially by producing top quality technologists having the right knowledge, skills and attitude. These activities are in line with the set mission and vision of the institute cascaded from the expectations of the sector as per the plan of the government.

                      2.  Research

Textile production is a major industry. It consists of the processing and conversion of natural and manmade fibers into yarns, then yarns to fabrics, and finishing of either yarns or fabrics depending on end uses. There are various technologies for fiber processing, yarn and fabric manufacturing coupled with the complexity of finishing and coloration processes. The recent developments in textiles for customized functional applications in multidisciplinary sectors are creating a new era of technological advancements for a wider scope of end uses in the emerging fields of technical and medical textiles. Needless to say, textiles permeate day-to-day life from fashion to health to space sciences.

TPRiC deals with the understanding of the characteristics, properties and structures of input fibers; technological (processing) knowledge in the formation of yarns and fabrics; technical (machine) knowledge; and product characterization to deliver to the required customers/end uses. Hence, the center is primarily concerned with excellence in research and innovation in the fields of textile raw materials, yarns, woven and knitted fabrics, nonwovens, interactions of materials with machines, production and productivity, safety and health, energy conservation, waste and pollution control, and machine modification and design. In addition, textile professionals investigate the designing and manufacturing of various textile products as well as conduct textile plant layout and design. Moreover, the center has given special attention to research in medical textiles to develop various products in order to mitigate potential health problems and save foreign currency shortages. The tasks, which professional textile engineers undertake, are too many to list them all.

TPRiC also aims to achieve excellence in education in Textile Engineering and Textile Technology by providing students not only theoretical knowledge, but also hands-on experience for practical and testing courses. Thus, the center is contributing a lot through training in producing highly competent technical manpower for the industry, research and development organizations, and academic institutes.

The top priority of the center is to carry out applied research by closely working with the industry to solving existing practical problems in textile mills. However, conducting fundamental research in established and emerging technologies may be allowed based on the resulting benefits.We are shifting from a fragmented approach to a wholistic approach where complex problems are resolved systematically. If needed, researchers have an option to conduct research in phases if they cannot complete the investigation within the fiscal year. Besides, the center encourages and supports team research work compared to individual research. Table 1 shows the trend of research carried out for the past seven years.

Table 1 Research trend in TPRiC

Year (E.C)

Conducted Research

Completed Research

2008

6

3

2009

9

4

2010

8

8

2011

5

5

2012

2

1

2013

12

11

2014

5

1

                  3.  Publications

Research are being published in journals increasing the visibility of the institute. The quality and number of publications have been increasing from time to time. Previously, it was deemed satisfactory if the papers were published in any journal that was not found in Beall’s list of potential predatory journals and publishers. However, in the past five years or so, the legislation of the university only recognizes papers published in reputable indexed journals such as SCOPUS, Web of Science, and the like for promotion, incentive, housing, and other meritorious issues. The center’s publications are shown below in Table 2.

Table 2. Publication trend in TPRiC

Year (E.C)

Publications

2008

2

2009

3

2010

14

2011

21

2012

21

2013

35

2014

50

             4. Research Thematic Areas

Raw Material & Yarn Manufacturing

  • Raw cotton-picking problems or method of harvesting system
  • Cotton (lint) quality and spinnability
  • Raw material selection and mixing
  • Cotton processing (optimization of process parameters in ginning and spinning)
  • Quality control in cotton spinning mills
  • Cotton waste minimization and utilization
  • Air conditioning in cotton spinning mills
  • A framework for estimating savings and losses from product mix
  • Operational and commercial parameters in spinning mills
  • Count variation, twist level, and neps
  • Comparative study of yarn parameters of various spinning systems
  • Productivity in ginning and spinning
  • Machine settings in ginning and spinning
  • Study of quality of yarns made of man-made fibers and its blends
  • Study of packing materials’ cost in spinning mills
  • Energy issues in spinning
  • Developing a system to minimize employer turnover
  • Spare part problems in spinning machinery
  • Leadership problems

Fabric Manufacturing (Weaving & Knitting)

  • Quality control in weaving/knitting mills
  • Process control techniques
  • Optimal size recipe preparation
  • Yarn breakage in loom
  • Machine setting
  • Maintenance and air conditioning
  • Techno-economic survey, financial performance, cost control
  • Energy management
  • Improvement of product quality and productivity in loom/hand loom & knitting machines
  • Technical textiles (fiber composite and the like)
  • Development of fire-resistant fabrics
  • Development of bandages using bamboo fibers
  • Fabric structure and design, and end use
  • Study of cost and quality of woven and knitted fabrics
  • Production planning and control system
  • Project formulation and diversification
  • Evaluation of weaving/knitting behavior using artificial neural network
  • Survey of Ethiopian Textile Industry with reference to knitting
  • Techno-economic feasibility study of setting up a new mosquito net manufacturing unit in Ethiopia.
  • Survey of the knitters in Amhara Region especially in and around Bahir Dar
  • Waste control system

Testing and Quality Control

  • Optimization of testing procedures and standardizing tests
  • Raw material quality assurance methods
  • Assuring production process quality parameters
  • Total quality management principles in industries
  • A framework for estimating the relationship between productivity and quality
  • Quality versus market relations

Multidisciplinary

 

  • Inventory control system in textile industry
  • Ergonomics problem in textile industry
  • Feasibility study of the textile sector
  • Textile plant design and layout
  • Medical textiles (facemask, sanitary pads, diapers, gauze, coveralls, etc.)

            5. Research Team

The center has well qualified national and international staff in various fields. Generally, the teams can be categorized into seven based on fields of investigation: raw materials team; yarn manufacturing technology team; woven fabric manufacturing technology team; nonwoven technology team; knitted fabric manufacturing technology team; textile testing and quality control team; indigenous textiles team; and medical textiles team. Nevertheless, multidisciplinary research teams are also formed when complex issues are needed to be studied. For instance, personal protective equipment (PPE) product development.

Due to COVID 19, special emphasis was given to medical textiles and it was established as a unit under the center in 2020. Some works have been carried out in terms of establishing medical textiles laboratory and conducting field specific research. This, however, needs special guidance as it is still in its embryonic stage.

Indigenous textiles is another unit with great potential. Ethiopian traditional clothes have beautiful artistry that illustrates originality of antiquity. Unfortunately, they are rarely worn as casual wear despite gracing holidays. The types of these fabrics must be documented and given Information Tag (it is noteworthy mentioning that almost all tribes and localities in Ethiopia have their own cultural cloth varying in designs and weaving method). The way these fabrics are processed needs to be more creative, productive, and ergonomically conducive. Moreover, natural as well as synthetic dyeing must be explored to adorn ourselves even in working days.

              6.  Thematic Areas

An investigating team was set up in 2020 to survey the needs of Textile Industries and related sectors to conduct applied research and propose mitigating measures to prevailing issues. Hence, the main research thematic areas are delineated by the center (Link to research thematic areas).

               7.  Facilities and Laboratories

At present, the center has eight laboratories for research, teaching-learning, community service, testing and consultancy services, as well as production. In addition, handmade textile laboratory will be in place as soon as we shift to the new laboratory building in Selam Campus.

Significant efforts have been made to acquire latest testing equipment and upgrade the laboratories to an international standard and for expanding the range of research and product development. Additionally, there are knitting and weaving machinery for fabric production.

Air conditioners are installed in the research laboratory to control the climate and meet the testing standard, which plays a crucial role to produce test results that are internationally acceptable. Meanwhile, the institute is working hard on the accreditation process. Currently, TPRiC has applied for the accreditation of six parameters: cotton fiber testing using HVI, weight of fabric (GSM), air permeability, abrasion resistance, and pilling resistance. Accreditation would ensure the laboratory’s performance to be accurate and increase customers’ confidence on our test result and interpretation. It is hoped that our lab would act as a hub for testing to the region and nation.

         7.1 . Fiber Properties Testing Equipment

Tests fiber properties using latest machines such as Wira fineness tester, trash anlyser, etc.  

7.2  Yarn Properties Testing Equipment

Tests yarn properties using a host of testing equipment such as universal tensile strength tester, electronic twist tester, abrasion tester, etc.Some pictures are shown below.

                7.3   Fabric Properties Testing Equipment

Tests various fabric properties using pilling and abrasion tester, fabric strength tester, air permeability tester, GSM tester, stiffness tester, etc.