On July 7, the second session of the new season of the Innovators Club took place, with Manel Torres, founder of Fabrican, as a guest speaker.
Manel Torres, BA (Hons), MA (RCA), Ph.D (RCA), is the inventor of Spray-on weaving technology. Dr. Torres graduated and did his postgraduate studies in fashion design at the Royal College of Art in London. In his doctoral thesis, Dr. Torres researched the possibilities of crossing and interrelating the disciplines of science and design in a method of spraying fabric on various surfaces. This early development formed the strategic vision that has underpinned Fabrican Ltd since 2003.
Fabrican’s founding origin was the creation of an instant process to speed up the traditional clothing manufacturing process, using Spray-on fabric technology. This versatile technology is to create fabrics instantly and has given rise to many applications, such as clothing, sportswear, cosmetics, automotive, interior design, the creation of sterile dressings and plasters for the medical industry or environmental protection by cleaning up oil spills.
During the session Manel Torres explained to us that: “From a liquid that consists of a support, fibers and binders, we can instantly create a non-textile material or a film on any surface, including water.” As Dr. Torres added: “The magic of this technology is that these liquid tissues can basically be recycled. We start with the raw materials, we spray these raw materials, and we create, in this case, garments. These garments have been sold, worn, and then we can re-dissolve and re-spray them.”
In addition, Manel Torres took advantage of the session to share some of the latest applications they have been working on. Among them, we highlight the case of the English luxury firm of headgear and handmade accessories, J Smith Esquire, for which they have created an exclusive waterproof fabric; or the case of the cosmetic firm Syoss by Henkel, for which they have created a product that sprays fibers on the head to create more volume and enhance the sensation of thicker hair; or a future project in which they study how garments can be purchased in vending machines located in shopping centers, so that brands such as Balenciaga, Chanel, H&M or Zara, could have their garments made instantly in front of us in a store.
A really interesting session that we share below in interview format.
1. What are the origins of Fabrican and what are your plans for the future?
Fabrican’s origin was about creating an instant method to speed up the process of manufacturing traditional clothes, using the Spray-on fabric technology.
This versatile technology is about creating fabrics instantly and it has led to many applications, such as apparel, sportswear, medical, cosmetics, automotive, interior design and many more that we have not explored yet.
It is magic! From a liquid consisting of a carrier, fibres, and binders, we can instantly spray a non-woven material or film on any surface, including water.
Fabrican is constantly tweaking the formulation and working with more eco-friendly materials.
Fabrican’s mission statement is to provide sustainable fashion with its ethical Spray-on fabric technology.
2. How has your interdisciplinary background helped you in your innovation business proposal?
My interdisciplinary background, from fashion design to the chemistry laboratory, has helped me to apply Spray-on fabric for fashion applications, and enables me to communicate the technology through fashion and create a strong connection between fashion and science. From that body of work, many applications and many products that could be developed from the technology emerged.
3. What do you think has been the most impactful application of Fabrican thus far?
The idea of instant clothing, the freedom of mass customization, and a rapid and simple production process for global companies.
The Fabrican material’s ability to be re-dissolved and re-sprayed at the end of its life to create entirely new articles really meets the urgent need for reduce-reuse-recycle components in industry.
It really is the magic fabric.
4. In terms of sustainability for the future, what are you most worried about and most excited about?
Creating a material that is 100% compostable. The Fabrican team is working hard on this goal. I am excited getting up each morning, ready to bring ideas and test different new materials in the lab to achieve a 100% compostable spray-on fabric.
5. What do you think are the biggest opportunities for social change within the textile industry?
Unfortunately, the textile industry in its present form contributes to the pollution of our planet, consuming enormous amounts of water and using harmful solvents and dyes, and adding to material waste.
If Fabrican’s technology gets established, it will help to dramatically reduce material waste and consumption of chemicals, because the technology can redissolve and reuse old fabrics. It really is a key to creating a circular economy in the textile industry.
6. What do you think innovation should focus on?
Developing environmentally friendly solvents free of VOCs, water-based materials, and most importantly, developing compostable materials.
7. What improvements in efficiency and sustainability do you see for the laundry industry in the next 5 years?
I think reducing harmful substances in water waste discharged into rivers or the sea has to be a priority. Cleaning surfactants based on food formulations might be possible. Large laundry facilities could install solar panels to supply their own energy needs to reduce reliance on fossil-fuel energy.
The work Fabrican is doing now could create compostable packaging for products used by the industry. The technology could also develop a coating to keep fabrics cleaner for longer after washing. This could be a premium service the industry could offer. For example, a table cloth could be sprayed to make it stain and water resistant.
Fabrican’s vision and efforts are all about making a sustainable technology for everyone to use.