AgResearch says it has several international companies interested in commercially producing its stab and flame-resistant wool fabric.

The fabric was launched at Fashion Week in 2007, with a catwalk model submitted to a blowtorch and a mannequin stabbed to demonstrate the product.

At the time outdoor clothing maker Line 7 was contracted to manufacture an initial run of products, such as stab-resistant vests for police.

But Line 7 went into receivership in July.

It also did not have the capacity to make the fabric on a commercial scale.

Peter Ingham, manager of textile science and technology at AgResearch, said it had been talking to Melba Textiles in Australia, which supplied protective fabrics to the armed services and firefighters.

However, Melba went into liquidation in April.

The other delay the Crown Research Institute faced was getting enough vectran - an ultra-high strength liquid crystal polymer which is a key component of the fabric.

Vectran, used for armouring vehicles, was in short supply worldwide because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We had to wait eight months to get a supply," Ingham said.

AgResearch had now manufactured some of the fabric and made samples for two to three overseas companies.

"If a company wants to do test marketing and make some garments we can certainly do that."

Ingham said the fabric provided a low level of protection and was stab-resistant, not stab-proof.

But the beauty of it was that it was lightweight compared with other safety gear.

There was a a layer of vectran in the middle of the fabric which was entangled by a process of shrinking the wool. It was not woven so there was no yarn involved.

"The advantage of this is it's covert protection, it just looks like felted wool."

Commercial production of the fabric would be good news for the New Zealand strong wool industry, which has been suffering from low prices.

The fibre used is at the finer end of the strong wool spectrum.

Strong wool is generally used for carpet making so it would be good to get the product into a new area, Ingham said.