Revolutionary Australian technology that can guarantee the comfort of wool to the consumer will go on sale to the world at a major global textile and manufacturing showcase in Shanghai this week.

Used together the Wool ComfortMeter and Wool HandleMeter objectively and accurately measure the comfort and handle properties of light-weight wool garments, and provide an effective method of assuring next-to-skin comfort and predictable feel for the consumer.

The technology is set to revolutionise the production and marketing of wool garments, with strong interest already received from leading fashion and sports brands, as well as wool processors and mills.

Developed by Australia’s Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC), the technology has been commercialised by AWTA who are demonstrating the devices at the ITMA Asia event in Shanghai from 16 - 20 June 2014. 

“China is also the world’s largest manufacturer of knitwear and Australia’s biggest export customer for wool and ITMA is the world’s most established integrated textile and garment manufacturing technologies showcase – it is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the Wool ComfortMeter and Wool HandleMeter among the wool processing and retail sector,” AWTA Managing Director Michael Jackson said.

“This ground-breaking technology will deliver benefits to the wool industry for years to come by going straight to the key issue of consumers’ expectations of Australian wool and how this can be improved.

“The technology provides retailers and brands with a means of differentiating their next-to-skin Merino wool products, enhancing consumer trust in their products and increasing their willingness to pay a premium for Australian wool.”
The Wool ComfortMeter counts the number of fibres protruding from a fabric that could cause wearer discomfort, and then accurately predicts a consumer’s response – crucial information for next-to-skin fabric manufacturers.

Wool ‘handle’ had traditionally been measured subjectively by judges, who often had differing views on a fabric’s smoothness, softness, hairiness, tightness and perceived weight. The Wool HandleMeter overcomes this with objective data.

The Sheep CRC developed the technology in conjunction with the CSIRO, Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), the Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA), Deakin University and the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA).

The accuracy of the ComfortMeter and HandleMeter in predicting the feel of garments was validated by the Sheep CRC through a series of wearer trials where volunteers have rated the comfort and next-to-skin feel of various garments while exercising in a controlled environment.

“These instruments demonstrate that if you wish to produce and market a superior next-to-skin product you must invest in a supply chain that utilises superfine and ultrafine Merino wool,” Sheep CRC Chief Executive James Rowe said.

“The Wool ComfortMeter quantifies how comfort levels improve with finer the micron wools all the way down to 13.5 micron, creating a clear product differentiation and the opportunity for price premiums for superfine and ultrafine wools for next-to-skin applications.”

The Wool ComfortMeter and Wool HandleMeter were officially launched in Australia in May for commercial use through AWTA, which is the largest wool-testing organisation in the world.
AWTA will provide fabric and garment testing services to wool processors, knitwear companies, fashion houses and garment retailers through its facilities in Melbourne, New Zealand and in China.
AWTA’s Chinese joint venture, the JinAo Testing Co., is located within the vast knitwear production centre of Nanjing, placing the testing services at the heart of the international supply chain.

“Thanks to the ComfortMeter and HandleMeter, which are also manufactured in Australia, the process of quality control is now significantly faster, cheaper and more accurate than other measures and, importantly, can be applied to the finished fabric,” Mr Jackson said.

“By identifying levels of next-to-skin comfort for garments that meet consumer expectations, industry has the opportunity to adopt quality control and quality assurance levels, and link these to price points at retail.”
The market relevance of the Wool ComfortMeter and Wool HandleMeter was tested in a pre-commercialisation pilot trial run in which the AWTA provided a test service to a range of major Chinese knitwear companies, leading brands and retailers.

The Sheep CRC also conducted workshops to showcase the equipment in Seattle, New York and London, and that were attended by brands including Nike, Nordstrom, Macy’s and Brooks Brothers in the United States, and Jaeger, Next, Arcadia and Bodin in the United Kingdom.

The companies involved immediately recognised the potential value of the Wool ComfortMeter and HandleMeter for achieving a high level of quality and consistency in their branded wool garments; improving customer satisfaction; reducing customer returns; expanding sales and enhancing their competitive edge in the apparel retail.

  • Detailed fact sheets on the Wool ComfortMeter and Wool HandleMeter technology and how they benefit different areas of the wool supply chain, are available at
  • Companies wishing to test fabrics should contact AWTA, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call +61 (03) 9371 2100.

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