Advanced Functional Fabrics of America Institute

Fast Facts


April 2016


Mission Rekindle the domestic textiles industry by leading a nationwide enterprise for advanced fiber and fabric technology development and manufacturing, enabling revolutionary system capabilities for national security and commercial markets

Headquarters Cambridge, MA

Consortium Organizer Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Satellite Locations
  • Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)
  • MIT Lincoln Laboratory (Lexington, MA)
  • University of Massachusetts, Lowell (Lowell, MA)
Institute Metrics
 as of September 30, 2023
156    Member Organizations

Total Committed Funding on Original and Follow-on Agreements with DoD
$75M    Base Federal Funding
$272M    Base Non-Federal Cost Share

Additional Committed Project Funding
$16M    DoD Projects
$34M    Other Federal Funding
$3M    Academia/Industry Projects
$298K    State and Local Government Sponsored Projects

Total Ongoing and Completed Projects
238    Technology Projects
73    Education and Workforce Development (EWD) Projects

Education and Workforce Development
1,993    Participants in EWD Projects or Institute-led EWD Activities from FY20-FY22
Institute Snapshot
AFFOA’s vision is a globally competitive, domestic supply chain in advanced fibers and fabrics.  The institute delivers breakthrough capabilities and innovations for national security through de-risking university technologies, non-traditional defense contractor participation, and the development of advanced textile systems.  AFFOA centralizes the revolutionary fiber and fabric technology capabilities of startups, manufacturers, industry and academia and organizes them to produce and manufacture advanced textile systems for DoD and commercial markets.
AFFOA addresses the spectrum of manufacturing challenges associated with developing and scaling advanced fibers and textiles from design through pilot production, helping to transition innovative technologies, and training the next generation manufacturing workforce.  The institute’s Fabric Innovation Network (FIN) of member companies enables the development and commercialization of textile products that can see, hear, sense, communicate, store energy, regulate temperature, monitor health, and change color while delivering the conventional qualities of fabrics to benefit the commercial consumer and warfighter.

Institute Capabilities
Fabric Discovery

In support of AFFOA’s mission to rekindle the domestic textile industry, the Institute has established regional centers of excellence, called Fabric Discovery Centers (FDCs). Their purpose is to spur innovation and regional economic development aligned with advanced fibers and fabrics. Funded in partnership with local universities and State governments, FDCs are innovation centers with capabilities including, advanced R&D, end-to-end prototyping, start-up incubation space, manufacturing process development and EWD activities that support both DoD and commercial needs. AFFOA currently has four Fabric Discovery Center locations established: AFFOA’s headquarter FDC in Cambridge, MA (HQ FDC), a FDC at the University of Massachusetts Lowell in collaboration with DoD MIIs ARM and Nextflex (UML FDC), a FDC on the Drexel campus focused on advanced knitting (PA FDC), and a defense specific FDC located at MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, MA (DFDC). The DFDC is a collaboration between the Army DEVCOM-Soldier Center and MIT Lincoln Laboratory, where classified work can be executed specifically for military applications.
Advanced Fiber

AFFOA has end-to-end advanced fabric prototyping capabilities at HQ including the ability to design, manufacture and integrate advanced fibers using a unique thermal draw process. This enables the institute to design complex multi-material structures that can be drawn down to fiber length scales. Additionally, AFFOA’s team of 20 technical staffers and textile designers allows the institute to integrate multiple components into system level demonstrators. The Defense FDC has similar capabilities which are used for classified work. 
Fabric Innovation
Network (FIN)

AFFOA’s impact is amplified by the highly capable members comprising the FIN, which includes U.S. universities innovating in advanced fibers and fabrics, small and medium-sized businesses developing unique manufacturing know-how, start-ups and industry members engaged in shaping the textile marketplace of the future, and government labs and agencies helping to bring the most important national security problems to the forefront.



AFFOA’s member portal documents member capabilities and technology, and allows members to freely connect and network to catalyze new product development opportunities and relationships. AFFOA recently re-vamped their member portal to include enhanced member profiles detailing member interests, capabilities and technologies, an opportunities section to share relevant opportunities with the network, advanced fiber and fabric resources, and a message board for members to discuss topics of their interests.