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From birch to dress – new steps in the collaborative Ioncell™ project
At Marimekko, we want to constantly increase the share of sustainable raw materials in our products. Oftentimes, a lot of the work doesn't show until it's ready to be introduced to the market, but this time we wanted to share a small project milestone in something we are very excited about.
Marimekko is engaged in a research project led by Aalto University and the University of Helsinki with the aim of developing a birch cellulose fiber made with the Ioncell™ solvent method. Fabric made from the Ioncell™ fiber is biodegradable, and no harmful chemicals are used in the manufacture of the fiber. It also is stronger than earlier cellulose-based fibers, such as viscose, or cotton.
Marimekko first tested the printability of a fabric made of Ioncell™ fibers in 2016, and in a recent project in fall 2019, the tests were extended with a further developed solvent that is fully recyclable. An Ioncell™ fabric woven with a lyocell warp was printed with the iconic Unikko (poppy) pattern with good results and, after the printing, a dress was sewn out of it. The dress proved pleasant to wear, and the fabric washed well.
Next, Aalto University intends to set up a small pilot factory where the innovation can be tested on the scale required for commercial production.