Weaving a new product for Lurex®

Exploring the possibilities when Lurex® meets LU meets carbon fibre

EU ERDF

The Company

The Lurex® Company Ltd

What they do

Produce fine metallic threads in various finishes and colours, including precious metals. These are generally used in a range of fashion items, home furnishings, and prosthetic related products.

The Challenge

Lurex® yarn sales are highly dependent on fashion trends, so when the trend is for metallics and sparkly items, and at particular times of year, such as Christmas, sales are higher. However, at other times of year and when trends change, the sales can decrease significantly. The challenge is to identify a potential range of products which could include Lurex® yarn to enhance the aesthetic appeal, and which would sell at any time of year and regardless of trend. The additional challenge is that such products would need to be high value relative to most fashion or homeware items, since Lurex® yarn is a high value product. This would help to even out the peaks and troughs of current sales.

Woven Carbon Fibre

The Solution

Kit Blake, managing director of the company, had already carried out a significant amount of research into alternative materials to incorporate Lurex® into, and he felt that carbon fibre offered a potentially interesting material to work with, because it starts as a fibre that is woven and then impregnated with resin to harden into products.

Product using carbon fibre 2

Carbon fibre is often used to make parts for high value items where strength and light weight is important. This might include vehicle, aircraft, marine vessels and sports equipment. However, it is being increasingly used for visually important items such as internal trim in high value vehicles, high value luggage, laptop cases, phone cases etc…..

Product using carbon fibre 1

In order to explore the possibilities, Kit decided to apply for support through a 5 day co-operation with a Loughborough University academic. The advisor located an interested academic, Kerry Walton, within the School of Art, English and Drama, who has a background in weaving and was keen to rise to the challenge of weaving a different yarn.

The Outcome

Kerry was able to weave various samples of carbon fibre with the Lurex® yarn to show the range of patterns and effects that could be achieved. Kerry was able to accompany Kit to relevant trade shows to learn more about the manufacturing world, and they were both able to meet several companies who were potentially interested in becoming involved. One of these companies was able to add resin to some of the woven samples to create solid structures.

Talks are ongoing with companies and Kit hopes these could eventually lead to development of new products.

“it is difficult to break into new markets, where people are used to working in a very technical and performance-oriented environment. Lurex® is a purely visual enhancement product and the people who work on carbon fibre developments don’t think of the potential visual appeal of their products. Without the work carried out by Kerry Walton, to physically show these people what is possible, we would have seriously struggled to break into this new market. The SING program helped in two ways: it made the risk of funding a speculative action more attractive and it also sourced the right resource to make the development possible. We now have two carbon fibre weavers in the UK actively working with us on new product developments. It has been a very positive program for us, for which I am very grateful.”

Kit Blake - Managing Director
About the client

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The Lurex® Company
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