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Drexel brings Advanced Functional Fabrics to Philadelphia

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Today, Drexel University was announced as a key leader in the creation of a $75 million national research institute that will help bring new materials and textiles to the marketplace.

The Advanced Functional Fabrics of America(AFFOA), will be a national manufacturing resource center for industries and government to draw on academic expertise in new fibers and textiles.

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter recognized AFFOA as a part of the White House’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) in a ceremony at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology earlier today.

“Fibers and fabrics are among the earliest forms of human expression, yet have changed very little over the course of history,” Yoel Fink, PhD, director of MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics, who led the AFFOA proposal, said in a press release. “All this is about to change as functional fiber and yarn technologies meet traditional textile production and yield new products by design.”

The university will receive funding from AFFOA to work on continuing projects such as a bellyband for uterine monitoring, touch-sensitive skin for robots, a haptic glove for hand therapy and textiles that can store energy.

“The fact that the DoD has identified functional fabrics as a critical focus for U.S. advanced manufacturing is validation for Drexel, where we’ve been working on smart textiles for nearly a decade,” Drexel President John A. Fry, said in a blog post on the university's website. “We’re proud to be a leader in launching this new industry with our public and private partners in AFFOA..”

Drexel will lead universities in the mid-atlantic region to manufactures and tech companies.

“As the leader of our state, I was proud to provide the support I could to this consortium, led by Drexel and including five other research universities in Pennsylvania and nearly a dozen private sector companies across the commonwealth and nation,” Governor Tom Wolf, who was in Boston regarding the grant, said in a press release. “Some of Pennsylvania’s most renowned higher education institutions will help drive this effort- in addition to Drexel, Carnegie Mellon, Jefferson, Temple, Penn State and Philadelphia Universities will all play a role.”

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