History

Outreach

The Nonwovens Institute (NWI) was launched in 2007 as the world’s first accredited academic program for the interdisciplinary field of engineered fabrics.

The NWI traces its history 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.

The Key milestones for the success of NCRC and NWI are:

1992 – The establishment of a 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 will be 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.