Replin Fabrics, a leading textile supplier to the international aviation industry for over 35 years, is taking advantage of the global growth of smart textiles to ensure a competitive edge.

Replin also supplies fabric to the marine and rail industries. The firm has a strong presence across the global contract fabric market, from durable commercial upholstery in banks and theatres to high end contract and residential fabrics.

With over 70 employees, the Peebles based Replin, contacted Interface - The knowledge connection for business, to initiate an R&D programme within the company, in order to reap the benefits of new developments in smart textiles, materials, and new market opportunities.

The textiles market is currently undergoing a rapid change.  Latest innovations include lightweight textiles strong enough to withstand the impact of a bullet, as well as scent-embedded textiles, stay-clean textiles, textiles with displays and fabrics that can change colour. Many new textiles are also being developed for health, promoting faster healing, enhancing well-being and green technology areas.

The Business Challenge

Recognising that academic assistance would help the company understand the latest key trends in smart materials, Replin needed to develop a working relationship with an academic department which would ultimately result in recruitment of a key member of staff that could lead to new developments in this area.
For the company, the long term objectives of this collaboration included research into new market opportunities, market drivers for novel textiles, appropriate materials and properties, recommendations for new R&D areas to deliver commercial advantage and the development of R&D partnerships to implement the agreed new product areas, both in house and with academic groups.

Interface undertook a search to identify relevant expertise within Scottish Universities and Research Institutes and through its links identified relevant expertise in seven Higher Education Institutions.

The Solution

Interface went on to broker links to Professor Bob Bradley, Advanced Materials and Biomaterials Research Centre, Robert Gordon University. The outcome was that Professor Bradley assisted in recruiting Dr John Muri to join the company in late 2008. John brought the necessary skills in textile engineering and experience in textile production and evaluation methodologies.

David Breckenridge, managing director of Replin Fabrics, is delighted with the result.  He comments: “Scottish Enterprise recommended that we contact Interface to assist us in our search for the academic support. After teaming up with Professor Bob Bradley, from Robert Gordon University, we realised that experience in the area of material science, chemistry, nanomaterials and chemical processes, rather than textiles, was required. Through working with Professor Bradley on an ‘expert opinion’ basis, the process was a great deal more focused on Replin’s actual requirements.”