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Student Spotlight

Sophie Nunno-Gorbachev, Direct-to-Textile 3D Printing

Sophie-Nunno Gorbachev, The Nonwovens Institute, NC State University

Sophie Nunno-Gorbachev

Degree Type: Ph.D.
Expected Graduation Year: 2023
Department/School: Wilson College of Textiles, NC State University
Program: Textile Technology Management
Research Project: Direct-to-Textile 3D Printing
Professor/Faculty Advisor: Dr. Behnam Pourdeyhimi, NWI/NC State University

How did you come to have an interest in nonwovens?

I had the opportunity to attend NC State University and study textiles for my undergraduate degree, during which I was introduced to nonwovens as “highly engineered textiles.” Through my graduate studies, I was able to see that the nonwovens industry has found a way to channel all aspects of textile production from polymer to fiber to fabric in order to solve some of the greatest challenges on our planet. I have worked on nonwoven projects for applications in filtration, medical textiles and apparel, and I was able to see how the nonwoven industry is able to solve complex problems through polymer science, textile engineering and new product development. 

Why are your research/findings particularly important/compelling for nonwovens applications?

The objective of my NWI research project is to develop a better understanding surrounding direct-to-textile 3D printing, to investigate 3D-printed structures and prototypes, and to study the interaction between 3D-printed parts and fabric.

Confocal laser scanning profilometry to measure surface roughness of polymers adhered to fabric
Using confocal laser scanning profilometry to measure the surface roughness of polymers adhered to fabric
Elongation behavior of different block copolymers
Print structures used to study elongation behavior of different block copolymers

Current pre-production and manufacturing processes present limitations, such as complications with materials management, significant fabric waste, and slower-than-ideal manufacturing times.  The implementation of additive manufacturing may allow for design specifications to be printed directly onto a fabric, reducing material waste, simplifying the sourcing process and streamlining manufacturing.

3D printing thermoplastic elastomer on polyester knit fabric
3D printing thermoplastic elastomer on polyester knit fabric

Where do you see yourself upon completion of your studies?

After my time in the NWI, I hope to combine my love for product development with my interest in research by leading industry research projects. The textile industry is one of the largest industries in the world, as these materials are advantageous for many applications. I seek to help the industry grow by incorporating innovative, efficient and sustainable technology into textile industry processes. 

When you are not studying and doing your nonwovens research project, what are your personal interests, hobbies … any activities you would like to highlight?

In my free time, I enjoy sewing, painting, rock climbing, playing chess, running and cooking, as well as statistics and film photography. 

For more information on how you can engage with NWI as a student researcher, visit our “For Students” page.