Archive for June, 2015

Care To Try On A Pork-Rind Sweater?

June 30, 2015 Leave a comment

June 30th, 2015
For most people, thinking of a favorite sweater likely brings to mind descriptors like soft and cozy, warm but breathable. Maybe it’s made of a fine Merino wool or cashmere. Few are those who, when thinking of the sartorial pleasures of knitted clothing made of natural fibers, will conjure the effluvia of slaughterhouses.

Philipp Stössel is one of the few. Stössel, a doctoral student researching biomaterials science, looks for useful materials that can be made from agricultural waste. Working with colleagues at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, he has been perfecting a process to make warm yarns out of animal byproducts like gelatin that can be knitted into clothing.

The motivation to turn the skin, bones and tendons of vertebrates into a wearable fiber comes, the group writes, from an enormous supply of waste.

“The raw material, namely, slaughterhouse waste, accumulates at about 10 million tons per year in the European Union and the global gelatin market is expected to reach 450,000 tons in 2018,” Stössel and his coauthors wrote recently in a study published inthe journal Biomacromolecules. Learn more and see pictures of the process below.

Taking gelatin from pig skin, they put it through a process of heating, doping and spinning that resulted in filaments. The team was able to produce the filaments at a rate of more than 650 feet per minute in the lab. Around 1,000 filaments were then hand-twisted into two-ply yarn strands.


[(a) Process chart of gelatin yarn and cloth production. (b) Spinning process and yarn twisting. Image and caption courtesy of Stoessel et al./Biomacromolecules.]

But as anybody who has made a bowl of Jell-O knows, any product made with gelatin that’s meant to last would need to contend with the fact that it readily dissolves in water. By using chemicals to cross-link molecules and then treating the material with formaldehyde and lanolin from sheep wool, the yarn was left sufficiently water resistant   to withstand dunking multiple times in water or detergent solution.


[(a, b) Spools with gelatin yarn (each ∼10 m) of which a glove was knitted. © Cross-linking with ethylene glycol diglycidyl ether and gaseous formaldehyde (8 h) and impregnation with lanolin stabilized the gelatin glove to such an extent that it could easily withstand swelling in water for 1 h. (d) The analogy with a glove knitted from commercial merino sheep wool is remarkable. Image and caption courtesy of Stoessel et al./Biomacromolecules.]

They next knitted the gelatin yarn into a glove and compared its water resistance and insulating ability against a control glove produced with Merino wool. “Altogether, the gelatin cloth showed very similar, or even slightly superior, thermal resistance to the merino sheep wool,” they found. Neither wool nor gelatin fiber insulated as well as synthetic polyester fleece fabric or expanded polystyrene.

Putting the yarns under an electron microscope, the researchers found that individual filament surfaces were smooth like synthetic fibers such as polyester and not like the scaly surfaces of sheep wool that are produced by overlapping cuticle cells. Looking at the filaments in cross section, they found long air spaces that ran the length of the fiber.

Several problems arose in producing the fiber, including weakness in it after the water-resistance treatments. Tests showed that fully treated gelatin yarn strength was only around 45 percent that of merino wool. Still, the glove they knitted with it insulated about as well as Merino wool.

“Nevertheless, protein fibers are increasingly attractive for numerous applications where, for example, high-performance mechanical properties are dispensable,” the group concludes in their study. “The applications may range from the biomedical field, where proteins such as gelatin or collagen are desired because of the similarity to tissue constituents, to textiles.”

Top Image: Courtesy of Stoessel et al./Biomacromolecules.

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Levi’s® and Google smart jeans partnership called “a natural fit”

June 30, 2015 Leave a comment
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Adidas Group announces bluesign partnership

June 30, 2015 Leave a comment
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RFID-Blocking READY Jeans are protected by Norton

June 30, 2015 Leave a comment


January 12, 2015 / Advanced Textiles Source / Out There

Betabrand designer Steven B. Wheeler has teamed up with global information-protection authority Norton to create RFID-blocking jeans. It is believed that RFID/NFC (radio-frequency identification/near-field communication) readers can now be used to steal your personal information—including credit card data—right from your pocket.

More than 10 million identities are digitally pickpocketed every year; these devices are among the most common tools used. It’s estimated that by 2015, more than 70 percent of all credit cards will be vulnerable to such attacks.

A high-tech version of the company’s READY jeans prevents this possibility. They look and fit just like the company’s original active wear-inspired jeans, but with two “magic pockets,” lined with RFID-blocking fabric, that shield credit cards from scanning devices. The jeans will be manufactured in San Francisco with high-performance stretch denim milled in the U.S.

While these jeans are designed to help keep your digital information safe, they’re no replacement for exercising caution. No RFID-blocking fabric can block all frequencies with 100 percent certainty, and even the most effective RFID-blocking materials can fail because of wear and tear and/or user error, so the company advises wearers to continue to exercise sensible caution.

RFID Jeans1

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BeBop Sensors that measure physicality wins award

June 30, 2015 Leave a comment
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Walmart seeks 50% faster scan times with invisible barcodes

June 30, 2015 Leave a comment

 fierce retail

The test of digital watermarking from Digimarc was revealed this week by Walmart CEO Doug McMillon in an Instagram post, The Oregonian reported. “Inside Walmart’s Lab 415-C, our associates are working on some incredible innovations,” he said in a caption of a photo depicting a bag of chips getting scanned. “Technologies like invisible watermarking could transform the way our customers check out.”

The new digital technology can cut scanning time by as much as 50 percent, according to Digimarc.

Sign up for our FREE newsletter for more news like this sent to your inbox!For example, the technology allows scanners to immediately read from as many as 200 invisible barcodes all over a box of cereal, said Digimarc CEO Bruce Davis. This would replace conventional barcode technology with one code per package, often on the bottom. This takes time for the scanner to pick up and slows the checkout process, which costs retailers money.

“It’s a big deal going fast,” Davis said. “We’re confident we can cause everyone to go a lot faster.”

The Walmart test is still at the “proof of concept stage,” he said, but “to have a little tiny company like ours be known to the CEO of Walmart is encouraging.” Costco had previously tested digital watermarking two years ago in a publication sent to the warehouse club’s members.

Eventually Digimarc’s barcodes could eliminate lines at the checkout counter completely. According to Davis, shoppers might place items in a cart equipped with scanners that can easily find barcodes all over the packages.

“I think it’s overwhelmingly improving scanning,” Davis said. “It’s not like a little change. We’re way, way better than the existing scanning.”

When word got out that Walmart is testing the Digimarc technology, the small company’s stock increased nearly 14 percent, closing at $37.15 on Tuesday, a four-year high.

Referring to McMillon’s Instagram post, Davis said, “That’s a good thing when the big boss likes the stuff.”

Early last year, the Portland Business Journal reported that Digimarc had teamed with Datalogic, which makes barcode readers, for the project.

“Just as UPC changed the face of retail when it was introduced almost 50 years ago, Digimarc barcodes will have a similar impact,” said Matt Schler, general manager of fixed retail scanning for Datalogic.

At the National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention and Expo in 2014, Digimarc broke the Guinness World Record for the fastest time to scan 50 items, according to this YouTube video.

For more:
-See this article from The Oregonian
-See this Instagram post
-See this Portland Business Journal article
Related stories:
Get ready for old coupon barcode retirement
Walmart’s holiday ‘checkout promise’ to open every register
Walmart drives growth in self-checkout
Kroger adds infrared cameras to keep checkout lanes moving
Target CEO Cornell places big bet on technology

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How Kroger wins in center of store

June 30, 2015 Leave a comment

by Monica Watrous

Kroger is enjoying continued growth in a challenged category.

NANTUCKET, MASS. — The center of store has been a sore subject for many grocery retailers and packaged food companies as more consumers shop the perimeter for products perceived as fresher. The Kroger Co., however, continues to enjoy growth in the category amidst industry-wide challenges.

“We are probably one of the few outlets that continues to grow units in the center of the store, and… with as big a piece of business as that is for us or any more traditional or conventional retailer, it’s important that those categories grow nicely,” said Mike Schlotman, senior vice-president and chief financial officer, during a June 23 presentation at the Jefferies Consumer Conference in Nantucket, Mass.  “Otherwise that total top line is going to be tough to push.”

For the Cincinnati-based supermarket chain, the grocery department represents half of the volume. Produce, conversely, represents about 10%.

“If you think about produce is 10% of my business, if it grew 10%, that is only a 1% contributor to the top line,” Mr. Schlotman said. “If I can get grocery to grow 3%, that is a 1.5% contributor to the top line because it is half the weight of my overall sales. So it’s important. It’s important that those big categories continue to grow.”

One way Kroger has improved its center aisles is with a revamped coffee section.

Mike Schlotman, senior vice-president and c.f.o. for Kroger.

“We’ve redone our coffee aisles to address the way people shop for coffee, and it’s not all just K-Cups,” Mr. Schlotman said. “There are still plenty of people who want and desire the whole beans and the grinds and making sure you have the right variety and the flavors and the new offerings in that world as well.”

Kroger also has organized its sections to provide an easier and more intuitive shopping experience for its customers.

“So if a mom is in the store shopping for the lunch basket or the lunch box for the children, a lot of those things we now have in the same aisle,” he said. “Shelf-stable juices and snack crackers and those kinds of items you will see in the same aisle. So it makes shopping for that product easier when they come in to do that shop.”

An increase in the number of natural and organic products available from packaged food companies has also kept Kroger’s center of store healthy.

“More products continue to be introduced in a variety of those areas,” Mr. Schlotman said. “More customers are choosing to live that lifestyle and want those products, and we are doing a really good job of converting people who have been long-time loyal Kroger shoppers who didn’t know, didn’t care, or didn’t appreciate the breadth and depth of the offering we have in the organics and are now standing in our store to buy those versus perhaps going to a competitor to buy them.”

While the center of the store remains alive and well for Kroger, the retailer plans to expand its prepared foods offerings. Mr. Schlotman admitted his company’s selection of hot meals “pales in comparison” with that of its competitors.

“We think we have a long runway in front of us of our ability to offer a better proposition for our customers in that category,” Mr. Schlotman said. “We added some talent at the beginning of the year to shore that up. He came from a competitor. He has run his own restaurants. He speaks three languages. He has lived in Europe. He is a sommelier, quite a talented guy and he has already had an impact on some of the things we’re doing in the short six months he has been with us.”

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