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Coded Yarns Poised to Weave Transparency, Traceability into Textile Supply Chain
13/10/2017 Author:Sustainable Brands

Traceability is an ongoing concern for the textile industry. Technologies such as barcodes, QR codes and RFID tags have been put in place to enhance supply chain transparency, but they often fail to provide complete traceability. Researchers at the University of Borås in Sweden have developed a novel coded yarn-based tracking system that promises to overcome existing limitations and deliver improved traceability.


In the new system, intelligent yarns are fully integrated into textiles during the manufacturing stage to produce traceability tags. The coded yarns contain special optical features and, as a result, create an ‘optical stamp’ or pattern for traceability on the surface of woven or knitted fabrics. The tags are created by using a combination of coded yarns having different and distinguishable optical features, or yarn classes.


According to researchers, the coded yarns work much in the same vein as barcodes, where lines of varying widths and spacing represent digits, and a set of lines represents the full code. Similarly, a coded yarn's unique optical features represent a digit, with a sequence of coded yarns representing a complete code. The full code can be altered or controlled by changing the coded yarns’ sequence in the textile.


As an integral part of the textile, coded yarns tags cannot be removed. This means that not only is traceability extended beyond POS, but it can also help in ensuring proper product care, recycling and return. Unlike RFIDs, coded yarns do not alter the feel of textiles and can be processed in textile recycling without issue.


The new technology is a step in the right direction, but more fine-tuning of the technology is needed before coded yarns are ready for market. According to researchers, further improvements are needed on tag readability — such as fixed identification marks to direct reading and decoding.


For more information, please refer to www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/product_service_design_innovation/sustainable_brands/coded_yarns_poised_weave_transpa