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Textile Technologist


Description

When it comes down to studying every detail of how a textile business runs, there is always room for suggestions and improvements. Textile technologists figure out what these needed developments are and figure out how to implement them. Textile technologists undertake a wide variety of technical, investigative and quality control work on textiles. They advise manufacturers on methods of garment construction, sizing, and quality and aim to improve the production efficiency, cost and quality of products. Textile technologists have scientific knowledge of the structure and properties of textiles, as well as the conversion of fibers or filaments to all types of textiles, such as spinning, weaving, knitting, the manufacture of non-woven materials, dyeing, printing and finishing.

Like other engineering technologists, they focus their work in areas such as research and development, manufacturing, sales, quality control and maintenance. In the area of research and development they study natural, manufactured and synthetic fibers and work towards development or modification of production machinery, new textiles and new uses for textiles by applying new technology to these practices. In the area of production and quality control, work involves handling and supervising manufacturing procedures like spinning, weaving, knitting, bonding, dyeing and finishing. The technologists will test fibers for heat resistance, crease resilience and laundering durability. The process of manufacturing would also include packaging, storage and delivery. Quality control encompasses product inspection in order to ensure the compliance of specifications.

Textile technologists are also concerned with organizational and personnel problems associated with running a factory, so that the maximum product is being produced at a minimum cost. Some will introduce statistical performance measurements to analyze and improve operations or study materials handling methods to recommend ergonomic solutions to problems, safe work practices and cost efficiencies. Textile technologists also offer technical advice to organizations that purchase textile products (such as clothing stores) or in technical sales, where they advise customers on the best use of suitable products. Technologists can also specialize in any of the textile-related production, research and development areas, such as sewing thread, hosiery yarns, apparel fabrics, household fabrics, industrial fabrics, carpeting, medical fabrics and non-woven materials used for environmental applications.

A great deal of the career deals with studying human behavior and human tendencies. When designing the layout of a sewing factory, the textile technologist must consider the physical requirements, cost parameters and the physiological and behavioral performance of the human operators. Accordingly, they are required to constantly update their skills and knowledge in order to keep up with technological advancements in this quickly changing field.
 
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  Interests and Skills  
What interests and skills does it take to become a textile technologist? Technical skills and an artistic ability, including a sense of form, color and design are definite assets to prospective textile technologists. They should have good color perception and a solid understanding of chemistry. They should be knowledgeable in spinning, weaving, non-woven or knitting technologies and have good mechanical and mathematical skills.

They should subsequently have good communication skills and enjoy dealing with various people. Finally, they must be familiar with computer design systems and be able to switch between working in the office and on the factory floor.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Develop and conduct production, inventory and quality assurance programs in manufacturing industries
  • Develop synthetic fibers and the quality assessment of natural fibers
  • Analyze production problems such as an inadequate supply of components, materials or personnel
  • Develop and carry out research and case studies of manufacturing companies
  • Develop dyeing, printing and finishing processes
  • Ensure quality in areas such as strength, durability, colorfastness and water and chemical resistance including stability in washing
  • Advise commercial colleagues on technical aspects of the business
  • Work closely with suppliers and customers
  • Verify the consistency and reliability of product quality, taking into account such factors as time, cost and quality control
  • Develop and carry out industrial health, safety and fire prevention plans and programs and conduct safety training programs
  • Most textile technologists work standard, eight-hour days with possible longer hours when deadlines are nearing. They typically work in laboratories, factories or offices but usually there is considerable involvement in the production process. Teamwork is common between technologists, technicians and engineers because they pool their ideas together to create new and improved products. Some technologists occasionally travel overseas to obtain fabrics and materials that they cannot purchase at home.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Textile technologist work for private companies in the clothing industry, industrial textile companies; such as geo-textiles, medical textiles, industrial clothing, and furnishings, technical textiles plants, the detergent industry, independent retailers and in textile research and development companies.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Since textile technologists often have general industrial and manufacturing training, the option of advancement and specialization in an area of the textile industry is very possible and foreseeable. Technologists will start doing routine work under the direction of textile engineers and as they acquire experience and further knowledge, they will be given more responsibility. Experienced textile technologists may advance to become production managers or quality control supervisors and inspectors. With further training and education, textile technologists can also become textile or manufacturing engineers.
 

  Educational Paths  
Completion of a two- or three-year college program in textile engineering technology is usually required for textile technologists. A certification in textile manufacturing or a related field is available through associations of engineering or applied science technologists and technicians, and may be required for some positions. A supervised, two-year period of work is required for employment in this industry.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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