Deakin partners with Xefco, Proficiency Contracting for $3.4m IMCRC-backed project 

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The Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC) is co-funding a new $3.4 million manufacturing R&D project aimed at scaling newly-developed advanced coating technologies.

The three-year project will see Deakin university’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) team up with engineering equipment specialists Proficiency Contracting and technology experts Xefco, whose researchers have developed a novel atmospheric plasma coating system that reduces the costs and complexities of existing coating equipment.

The combined research team believes the project will result in better durability for textile coatings and reduced energy, water and chemical consumption during the manufacturing process.

“What we’ve managed to develop is a coating system that reduces the costs and complexities of existing equipment used to apply coatings, such as those that make textiles water-repellent, absorbent, flame retardant or odour free, said IFM Senior Research Fellow in Plasma and  project  leader, Dr Weiwei Lei.

“Thanks to support from our partners and IMCRC, we will now aim to improve and optimise the functional coating process, to get this lab-scale technology ready for production testing at a textile mill and global commercial use by 2021.”

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Xefco CEO Thomas Hussey said the company will establish an advanced manufacturing supply chain of local businesses by developing, testing and manufacturing the system in Australia.

“The partnership with the IMCRC, Deakin and Proficiency Contracting is a major step forward for the development of innovative technologies for the global textile industry,” Mr Hussey added,

“This project brings a broad spectrum of scientific and engineering expertise together with the required resources to rapidly elevate it to commercial readiness.”

David Chuter, CEO and Managing Director at IMCRC, said the next stage of the project will be dedicated to ‘adapting and moving the technology’ from lab scale to a commercially viable textile coating system.

“Over the past decade there have been significant developments in the application technologies, machinery and processes for textile coating that have enhanced and extended the range of functional performance of textiles,” Mr Chuter said.

“The next decade will be about innovative textile manufacturing technologies and processes that are environmentally friendly and resource-efficient. The novel atmospheric plasma system that Xefco and IFM are developing will set the path for the future viability of the industry.”

Image credit: https://www.deakin.edu.au