Interview with Professor Subhash Anand MBE

18 Nov 2011

On 17 November 2011, Prof Subhash Anand delivered an SCI Public Evening Lecture on 'Non-woven fabrics in healthcare and medical devices'

Professor Subhash Anand MBE is professor of technical textiles at the University of Bolton, UK. He has published over 200 papers in a number of areas of textiles, and holds six patents in technical textiles.

The market for non-woven textiles for healthcare applications has grown tremendously in the last few years. What makes non-woven textiles especially suitable for healthcare applications?
SA: Non-wovens are unique, innovative, versatile, indispensable, high tech engineered fabrics made from fibres, and are used across a wide range of applications and products. Modern life would be quite literally impossible without them. Non-woven fabrics for healthcare applications can be engineered to have precise and desirable properties, such as required surface area, porosity, absorption, barrier properties, infection control and disposability.

How has legislation impacted the innovation process in the non-woven textiles industry for healthcare applications?
SA: Legislation largely impacts through expectations of 'higher quality of life'. Stricter legislation regarding barrier properties, infection control, hospital-acquired diseases, and safety and protection have enabled non-woven manufacturers to innovate and develop multilayer and multi-technology products to comply with the latest legislation standards.

What are recent innovative applications of non-woven textiles for healthcare?
SA: Recent innovative applications range from 'smart' diapers (nappies), wound dressings and barrier, breathable operating room garments to tissue engineering and permanent implantable devices, such as arteries, ligaments and heart valves.

What are your current research projects?
SA: My recent projects include a single-layer, three-dimensional bandage for venous leg ulcer management; smart wound dressings; an orthopaedic cast system; third-degree burn garments; and pressure-relieving cushions for wheelchairs. I also have a number of research programmes in personal protective equipment (PPE) for the police, army and security personnel.

What are the biggest current challenges in non-woven textiles for healthcare applications?
SA: The biggest challenge in non-woven textiles for healthcare and medical devices is the environmental impact of their disposability. The importance and use of natural polymers, such as alginate, chitosan, carboxy methyl cellulose (CMC), polylactic acid, gelatin and collagen, is increasing, because they are biodegradable.

Is there scope for sustained innovation to keep driving market growth in this sector?
SA: Yes, definitely, you will be surprised to learn that already, worldwide, more textile fibres are utilised in non-woven materials than in all traditional technologies put together, such as weaving, knitting and all other techniques.

What was the focus of your lecture on 17 November?
SA: I gave an overview of both non-woven technologies and different areas of applications in healthcare and medical devices. I then presented about six case studies to demonstrate the versatility and uniqueness of non-woven technologies for their use in this important and crucial sector of technical textiles.

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