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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 5

I 1788 - State Of The Art In Textile Technology

II Australian Textiles - The Early Days

III Australian Textiles - The 20th Century
i Technology and Development
ii Australian Wool Textile Research

IV Australian Textiles - To Date

V Acknowledgements



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Australian Wool Textile Research (continued)

Through the late 1940s the CSIR (becoming the CSIRO in 1949) had been searching for an overall director of wool-textile research, but without success. It therefore decided on a different approach, as reported in the 1950 CSIRO Annual Report:

It has proved impossible to appoint a suitable leader to take charge of the whole wool textile programme, and accordingly three separate laboratories are being established, the coordination and general oversight of the research programme being in the hands of a Wool Textile Research Committee consisting of the Officers in charge of these laboratories. The laboratory in Melbourne, which is under the direction of Dr. F. G. Lennox, will confine itself to chemical and biochemical problems, and most of its work will be of a fundamental, long-range nature. Staff for the laboratory has been provided by transfer of the staff of the former Biochemistry Section of the Division of Industrial Chemistry. A property in Royal Parade, Melbourne, near the University, has been purchased and is at present being converted to laboratories to form the head-quarters of the work. Mr. V. D. Burgmann has been appointed Officer in charge of the Physics and Engineering Unit, which will be located in Sydney. Its work will be concerned with fundamental studies of physics of wool and of wool processing. The third laboratory, of which Dr. M. Lipson is Officer in charge, is at Geelong and will be concerned with problems of more immediate interest to the textile industry, with which it will work in the closest collaboration. Temporary buildings for the staff of the laboratory have been occupied at Belmont, Geelong, where construction of the first unit of a permanent laboratory has been commenced.

These laboratories became, respectively, the Divisions of Protein Chemistry, Textile Physics, and Textile Industry in 1958.

In the early 1950s, the underlying thrust of the objective of CSIRO wool-textile research then -as now -was to tackle any technological weaknesses in the long chain of steps from the farm to the retail counter, and also to improve the attractiveness or marketability of the wool end-product to the ultimate consumer. There was also a strong belief that a better understanding of the complex chemical and physical structure of the wool fibre was fundamental to making progress in these two objectives. This meant that the nature of the research ranged from quite basic studies of fibre structure through to the development and proving of processes that could be easily adopted by industry.

By its very nature, this book is concerned with the latter type of activity, and hence the excellent fundamental studies carried out receive scant mention. This should not be taken to indicate that they have had little influence. On the contrary, although no one individual study can be highlighted as being the 'breakthrough that changed wool science', collectively these studies have built up a picture of the chemical and physical structure and properties of the fibre which is essential for the research scientists and technologists of today and the future. The exciting possibilities, for example, that genetic engineering now offers for improving wool growth will be much more readily realised because of this work.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - CSIRO Division of Industrial Chemistry; CSIRO Division of Protein Chemistry; CSIRO Division of Textile Industry; CSIRO Division of Textile Physics

People in Bright Sparcs - Burgmann, V. D.; Lennox, Dr F. G.; Lipson, Dr M.

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 276 - 277, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher