Biotextilogy: A new genre of advanced materials inspired by nature’s best designs

Jacquard looms and nature’s weaving patterns combine with computer aided design and modern fibres to create a new style of advanced materials manufacturing.

A team of engineers is using nature’s weaving patterns as inspiration for a new genre of advanced textiles and materials. To replicate these patterns, they use one of the world’s first computers: a Jacquard loom, but with some modern enhancements.

“We look at nature’s most beautiful, intricate and smart structures under the microscope, and then we use computer aided design and manufacture, as well as computer-controlled weaving looms and 3D printing to emulate those designs,” said Melissa Knothe Tate, Paul Trainor Chair and professor of biomedical engineering at University of NSW.

To create the material swatches, on a Jacquard loom beefed up with five motherboards, each capable of controlling 5000 fibres individually. They are testing a variety of fibres, including cotton, suture materials, bamboo and titanium, to manufacture biotextiles that can be used in a variety of fields, from medicine to fashion, sportswear, construction and manufacturing.

Professor Melissa Knothe Tate was named as one of create’s Most Innovative Engineers in 2017.