Skip to main content

About NWI

The Nonwovens Institute (NWI) is the world’s first accredited academic program for the interdisciplinary field of engineered fabrics. Based at the Centennial Campus of North Carolina State University, NWI is a consortium of stakeholders spanning the breadth of the nonwovens value chain. Operating on an “Open Innovation” platform and covering the full Technology Readiness Level (TRL) range, NWI engages government, industry and academia to enable next-generation nonwoven solutions to mission-critical challenges.

5 Pillar Areas of Emphasis

NWI’s pillar focus areas are designed to cover the full range of Technology Readiness Level (TRL), fostering a unique connection between academia and industry with the future leaders of our industry at the center.

Our History

NWI was launched in 2007, but its history traces back to 1991 when the Nonwovens Cooperative Research Center (NCRC) was established as a State/Industry-University Cooperative Research Center with matching grants from the National Science Foundation, the State of North Carolina, and several industry partners. In 1998, upon the conclusion of NSF grant funding, the NCRC continued to enhance its technology and research capabilities while growing its membership to become North America’s largest State-Industry-University Cooperative Research Center. NCRC was discontinued in 2007 and all programs under NCRC were merged into The Nonwovens Institute.

Key Milestones:

1991 – The establishment of The Nonwovens Cooperative Research Center (NCRC). NCRC was one of the first five State/IUCRC’s funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
1999 – NCRC graduated from NSF. The funding cycle was completed and NCRC had to become self-sustaining.
2002 – The establishment of the “Partners’ SpunMelt Lab”. Investment of more than $8 million.
2002 – The establishment of Analytical Facilities. investment of more than $4 million.
2003 – The establishment of Educational Programs – The Graduate Certificate in Nonwovens
2007 – The establishment of The Nonwovens Institute (NWI) as a university-wide activity that touches at least 3 colleges and more than 7 departments.
2008 – The establishment of the “Staple Lab”. Investment of more than $5 million.
2010 – The establishment of the “Meltblowng Lab”. Investment of more than $7 million.
2012 – The establishment of LINC, LLC. an affiliated entity of NC State, an incubator to assist companies with the introduction of new products to market.
2016 – The CTI building and the new facility to replace the older “partners’ Lab” – an investment of ~15 million by NWI; The only one of its kind in the World and the manufacturing innovation hub for the Nonwovens and Affiliated industries.

NWI is a university-wide unit that brings together disciplines from Fiber & Polymer Science, Engineering, and Paper Science.  NWI’s faculty come from participating units on campus and partner institutions outside of NC State.  NWI students receive their degrees from their home departments, but their research is focused on a topic relevant to the needs of the nonwovens and affiliated industries.  All of our students also complete a Graduate Certificate in Nonwovens Science and Engineering.

Our Mission

Support the growth of the nonwovens industry through knowledge creation, knowledge transfer, education and engagement.

Our Vision

Be the global leader for research, education & outreach for the nonwovens and affiliated industries

Our Actions

NWI supports the nonwovens industry through:

  • Educating future leaders
  • Training programs for industry
  • Pilot and lab services to enable innovation
  • Product innovation by challenging the state-of-the-art
  • Product incubation through LINC, LLC, to help grow new products

NWI supports more 50 graduate students annually, on average, and is a global leader in nonwovens education, research and services. The Institute houses extensive state-of-the-art facilities from fiber and fabric formation to a full range of analytical and physical testing operated with strict adherence to standard test methods. These capabilities are available for product development, analytical services, materials testing, as well to support our training programs.


NWI is funded by membership dues, services (pilot lines & testing services, product development, training programs), sponsored research, product incubation (LINC, LLC), gifts and state funds.

Visit NWI

You will appreciate the full extent of our capabilities only after a visit, where you can see first-hand the breadth of our fabrication and testing facilities, our educational programs, while also speaking with faculty and staff about all that NWI has to offer.

If you have questions about NWI or our service offering, please contact us at