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Soft sensors

December 1, 2016

Flexible data collectors that can be worn on (and eventually, in) the body have great promise for patient-focused health care, but there are privacy concerns. The market for smart sensors is expected to grow from $18.58 billion in 2015 to more than $57 billion by 2022, according to a report published this summer by MarketsandMarkets …

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New technology and management strategies can prevent targeted cyberattacks

October 1, 2016

Modern, targeted cyberattacks can take any organization by surprise. And these targeted cyberattacks are increasingly widespread. CBS “Money Watch” reported in June 2015 that more than 80 percent of U.S. companies have been successfully hacked, according to a Duke University/CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook Survey. According to the CBS report, “Successful attacks by hackers involved …

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Coating tests that evaluate five types of durability

September 1, 2016

The right coating chemistry can make the difference between a fabric that has long-lasting durability and one that fades, degrades and fails before its expected lifecycle. This is especially true of fabrics used in awnings, tents, flexible decking, outdoor furniture, marine upholstery and automotive seating, where exposure to harsh environments can hasten the product lifecycle. …

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Canada is putting a new emphasis on developing smart textiles and wearable innovations

Textile is rapidly becoming the most effective wearable technology form factor,” says Tony Chahine, CEO of Myant & Co., a member of the Canadian-based Smart Textile and Wearables Innovation Alliance (STWIA). “Smart textiles and wearables have the ability to provide a holistic picture of the body, enhance everyday life and even transform the future of …

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Bold predictions: What’s realistic for smart textiles

August 1, 2016

The words smart textiles have generated much discussion in the industry and the media recently. India-based market research firm Markets and Markets has estimated that the value of this high-tech textile sector will grow to $4.7 billion by 2020. Given that the smart textile industry was estimated to be less than $1 billion in 2014, …

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Reinforcement of seismic proportions

July 29, 2016

A Japanese fabric manufacturer reinforces its showroom against future earthquakes, making a provocative visual statement. With the four main islands of Japan perched atop a convergence of three major tectonic plate boundaries, the country has a history of earthquakes and seismic activity. The ongoing seismic impact on buildings, infrastructure and population is significant, requiring some …

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Equipment purchasing: price and value

July 18, 2016

ROI is still an important factor in buying decisions, but qualities like reliability, durability and customer service are moving to the forefront. The return on investment (ROI) and how long it might take to achieve it is always a key consideration in most purchasing decisions, particularly during the Great Recession when pricing and ROI moved …

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Projects and prototypes

June 29, 2016

Industry breakthroughs are proving the viability of photovoltaic fabrics. The University of Wisconsin–Madison may not be the first research institution you would think of for solar textiles research, but a relatively new research team is changing that low profile substantially. Marianne Fairbanks, assistant professor in the School of Human Ecology, and Trisha Andrew, assistant professor …

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Working smarter, from fabric to product

Amsterdam-based studio works with manufacturers to bring a design sensibility to smart fabrics. The theme for this year’s Met Gala, the annual Metropolitan Museum of Art style spectacular that brings out top celebrities and fashion industry icons, was about fashion in the age of technology. Some designers took the opportunity to integrate smart textiles into …

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Streamlining with software

January 1, 2016

Today’s software and apps help fabricators keep pace and stay competitive, efficient and productive. Few words captivate the software and app sector more than the word change. Software and applications are drastically changing the way we do business, and many specialty fabric end product manufacturers (EPMs) and suppliers have integrated software and apps into their …

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Hazardous duty

December 1, 2015

How fabric technology is protecting rescuers against ever-more-dangerous situations. On the hot summer day in 2013 when 19 experienced firefighters lost their lives, the Yarnell Hill fire, northwest of Phoenix, Ariz., spanned 8,400 acres. The trees were dry, the humidity was low and the wind suddenly turned, cutting off escape and creating an inferno. The …

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The age of automation

Sewn or sealed, automation is trending as U.S. companies strive to increase efficiency and decrease costs. The art of sewing textiles is lacking in U.S. manufacturing as lower-cost labor in Asia has helped meet consumer demands for competitive retail prices. But automation technology is slowly advancing, helping companies bring production costs down while keeping quality …

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Navigating the seas of social compliance

October 1, 2015

Keeping a weather eye on your supply chain. Container ships are the life blood of the global apparel and textile trade. Every year, thousands of vessels traverse the oceans loaded with billions of dollars in ready-made goods waiting to be claimed by eager consumers. The process by which these goods are transferred from ship to …

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Technology and growth

Taking the time now to learn about automated manufacturing processes can save time in the long run, while increasing productivity and revenue. Automated cutting and the associated use of CAD software has been available to those processing textiles since the late 1980s. While technology has matured, price has come down and industry acceptance has grown, …

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Managing cyber security

Don’t fall asleep at the computer. The recent headlines about Internet hacking and high-profile security breaches have focused on large retailers such as Target, Neiman Marcus and Home Depot, and big banks like JPMorgan Chase & Co. Unfortunately, fraud and financial data losses are not limited to retailers or even to one industry. Small businesses …

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Retirement plan or tax benefit?

June 1, 2015

Successful businesses often still have things to learn about managing taxes and income. Many business owners and managers are aware of “qualified plans” or programs like 401(k) and Defined Benefit plans, which allow the sponsoring employer: current income tax deduction for plan contributions; tax deferred growth on plan assets; asset protection under ERISA (the Employee …

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The “Philosopher’s Stone”

February 1, 2015

New technology makes sustainable fabric finishing possible. Before knowledge of elements, atoms, nanotechnology and environmental issues, alchemists sought to convert base metal to gold and silver. They believed this transmutation would happen through the magical use of a “Philosopher’s Stone.” Significantly, this ability would also transform the holders of the Stone with riches beyond their …

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Saturation point

January 1, 2015

PPE manufacturers are running at capacity to help in the fight against Ebola. Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), or Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a potentially fatal disease that was first identified in 1976. Since then, outbreaks have happened every couple of years, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. However, none of these outbreaks has been as serious as the …

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Habit forming

The secret to a sideline in cleaning and repair is convincing customers to do it regularly. Cleaning and repair of fabric products is a bit like pie-making: It’s an extremely useful skill, and there’s a sizable market for it, but it’s not everyone’s strong suit. Today’s high-performance fabrics are an investment. They have a longer …

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The world of your website

Why it’s important to give your website the careful attention it needs to support the success of your business. All industries experience their share of change. The fabrics industry is no different. From hemp to cotton to microfibers to “smart clothes” that gauge body temperature and GPS locations, the fabrics industry is undergoing a rapid …

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Real solutions

December 1, 2014

Medical and biomedical textile breakthroughs were presented at IFAI Advanced Textiles Expo. It might be a process that starts at the fiber level or one that uses a material in a new way, but there is no question that textiles are playing an important role in the treatment of many types of medical conditions. New …

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Makers on the move

November 1, 2014

The Makers Coalition and IFAI join forces to train— and place—a skilled workforce. Talk to just about any manufacturer of sewn products and you’ll hear the same thing: finding skilled sewers is one of the most difficult things about running this kind of business. Now, thanks to The Makers Coalition (TMC), Minneapolis, Minn., and its …

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Invisibility technologies

September 1, 2014

A challenge with very new technologies is to predict with any accuracy how—much less when—they might be applied and what materials would be used to create a functioning product. Invisibility technologies fit into this scenario. By Janet Preus First, it is important to note that an invisibility “cloak” has nothing to do with textiles, per …

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Designer protection

July 1, 2014

From t-shirts to suits, antiballistic garments go high-fashion. By Janet Preus, senior editor When President Barack Obama strolled down the street following his inauguration in 2009, it was a bold move in the eyes of many. Although details of the President’s attire were not made available to the press, we do know that he was …

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Mist methodologies

June 1, 2014

NCSU lab rethinks chemical/biological hazard protection testing and derives important new conclusions. By Bryan Ormond, Ph.D. When you ask first responders if they are more concerned about having enough protection against flash fire exposures, ballistic and physical hazards, heat stress, or chemical and biological threats, more times than not they are going to say they …

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New frontiers

May 1, 2014

Improvements in radiation protective textiles for earth and beyond. With close to $1.46 billion in investments since 2008, the commercial space industry is blasting ahead at speeds close to their supersonic vehicles. Key players include former Paypal co-founder Elon Musk, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and Virgin’s own celebrity Sir Richard Branson. Promises of breathtaking views …

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Tent safety in severe weather

April 1, 2014

Storm safety and evacuation is a matter of planning, preparation and communication. Weather is a way of life in the tent rental and event industry. We are the “rain or shine” people. Tent and structure professionals deliver a finished product when most other people have decided it’s too hot, cold, rainy or windy to work. …

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Textiles and trade

NCTO supports Textile Enforcement and Security Act (TESA), Yarn-Forward rule. The Yarn-Forward Rule spurs investment in the U.S. textile industry, according to information from the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO). The U.S. textile industry has seen a surge in foreign direct investment over the past eight months. No fewer than eight foreign companies have …

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Award-winning geosynthetics

Two IAA-winning projects demonstrate the benefits of geotextile tubes for marine engineering. Award of Excellence TenCate Geosynthetics, Pendergrass, Ga., USA The Embraport Container and Bulk Liquid Terminal was permitted for construction on the north shore of the port of Santos, Brazil, estuary in a tidal zone that would require importing approximately 1.5 million cubic meters …

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The energy around us

March 1, 2014

Energy harvesting researcher Dr. Shashank Priya, Virginia Tech, responds to questions about the status of kinetic energy harvesting technology. What is your assessment of the commercial viability of kinetic energy harvesting? Kinetic energy harvesting prototypes have been demonstrated by several research laboratories and large companies, such as Exelis Inc. There are a variety of platforms …

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Smart—and comfortable—clothes

February 1, 2014

Wearable technology requires pairing reliable functionality with a comfortable garment. What if a person’s heart rate, respiration and body mechanics could be monitored during various activities without being observed in person or via video feeds? What if that data could be collected and evaluated remotely? Dr. Tom Martin, co-director of the Electronic Textiles Lab at …

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Going to extremes

Despite worldwide climate issues, fabric structures meet the environmental challenges. News of a 100-year “polar vortex” in the U.S. midwestern states, increasing tsunami destruction in the Caribbean and coastal Japan, typhoons in Southeast Asia—one could begin to believe that “extreme climate conditions” is an oxymoron, because it seems that the unusual is becoming the usual. …

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Stay warm, keep cool

January 1, 2014

Novel temperature-regulating, bi-component fibers in garments can maintain the balance between heat loss and heat generated. By Bengt Hagström Thermal comfort is dependent upon both environmental and individual factors and is influenced by the core and skin temperatures of the body. The thermo-neutral zone for naked resting subjects has been defined to lie between 28–30°C. …

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Vinyl matters

What fabric manufacturers know about PVC fabrics that you should know, too. Many businesses in the industrial fabrics industry (Seaman Corp. among them) have shown consistent growth over decades by developing cost-effective, high-performance products that utilize vinyl—a polymer used safely and successfully in a range of applications. Today, the vinyl industry represents $54 billion of …

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Creating the future of textiles: make it from milk

December 1, 2013

Qmilch IP GmbH makes a silky smooth, all-natural fabric from milk that’s highly desirable for high fashion, but well suited for more industrial applications, too. A lot of milk in the world is simply thrown away as unsuitable—for food, that is. German-based company Qmilch IP GmbH has found a use for discarded milk: fabric. In …

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Creating the future of textiles: wear and forget

November 1, 2013

New smart textile products will need to collect and quantify information for the user—and offer comfort and durability at a competitive price. What are the most exciting or intriguing developments in the industry in advanced textiles? Although advanced textiles are expanding in many directions, there’s a common thread among recent developments: giving sensory capabilities to …

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Small & mighty nanotechnology market

October 1, 2013

From the fiber level to surface coatings, new developments in nanotechnology impact many specialty fabrics markets. By Sigrid Tornquist Ways of manufacturing specialty fabrics have been around for decades, but what does that mean in terms of opportunities for manufacturers, particularly in regard to coatings? Current applications include military camouflage clothing that can change color …

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Creating the future of textiles: Auxetics advances

An interview with Advanced Fabric Technologies president David O’Keefe reveals the latest developments in the company’s auxetic technology. by Janet Preus An engineering and design company, Advanced Fabric Technologies focuses on developing material solutions for military and commercial applications that incorporate auxetic architecture. The unique characteristics of auxetic geometry, a negative Poisson ratio, allow a …

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Creating the future of textiles: Carbon nanotube fabrics

September 1, 2013

Dry processed fabrics containing high aspect ratio carbon nanotubes could enable a new generation of products. by Philip D. Bradford, Ph.D. Carbon nanotube (CNT) research has received a lot of popular press recently because of the amazing potential applications of these unique nanofibers. Carbon nanotubes have been highly studied by materials scientists who see the …

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Creating the future of textiles: Making an artificial tendon

August 1, 2013

Researchers at the University of Bolton, U.K., as part of a consortium of research institutions, are set to produce artificial fibers that could be used to repair or replace injured human tendons in the future. The task at hand The objectives of this multi-disciplinary project are to fabricate, stabilize and effectively functionalize three-dimensional collagen-resilin composite …

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Creating the future of textiles: Flexible components

May 1, 2013

New technique could enable the creation of a variety of fiber-based electronic and photonic devices. By David L. Chandler What do saltwater taffy and smart textiles have in common? Until recently, probably nothing. But scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have found a way to “pull” fibers—in a manufacturing process akin to making …

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Dutch researchers design highways that heal themselves

Researchers at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in The Netherlands are paving the way to longer-lived roads with a special type of asphalt containing long steel fibers. Zoab, a highly porous asphalt concrete used commonly in The Netherlands, is used because water can drain through openings in the pavement. The problem is that …

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Fibertect wipes cleaning up toxins

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) currently uses a powdered decontaminant called M-291 to clean up toxins, such as the nerve gas soman, a volatile, corrosive and colorless liquid. Then the Journal of Engineered Fibers & Fabrics published research by Texas Tech University comparing M-291 to Fibertect®, a nonwoven decontamination wipe created at the university …

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Lotus plant inspires self-cleaning yarn

Lotus leaves are covered with structures that repel surface water, which washes off dirt or dust as it runs off. A super-hydrophobic filament yarn developed by TWD Fibres GmbH, Deggendorf, Germany, achieves the same self-cleaning effect without external chemical treatment. DIOLEN®CLEAN is created using a specialized spinning process that integrates the self-cleaning effect into the …

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Creating the future of textiles: Acoustic invisibility

April 1, 2013

New cloak provides best protection yet. According to an article by Alexander Movchan published in January 2012 by the Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, U.K., “Cloaking devices made of a composite of soft and hard materials can divert elastic vibrational waves around an object as though it wasn’t there.” The accomplishment Movchan …

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Creating the future of textiles: Flexible components

March 1, 2013

The market for products utilizing flexible components is growing rapidly. By Dr. Harry Zervos As more flexible devices are available, the need for better performing barriers and encapsulation materials at lower cost intensifies. The stringent requirements make this a difficult task for some applications, although others with less intensive demands are already appearing in the …

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Creating the future of textiles: Wearable electronics

February 1, 2013

More imaginative approaches will drive wearable electronics markets in the future. By Marie O’Mahony What are the most intriguing developments in your area of advanced textiles? One of the most exciting areas for me has been smart materials and systems. These have been around for a number of years, but are only now starting to …

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Integrating coating technologies

The coated textiles industry is currently in a state of flux as new markets are emerging and traditional processes (and partnerships) are being adapted in response. By Adrian Wilson A wide range of coating technologies and processes were showcased and explained at the 2012 International Conference on Textile Coating and Laminating (TCL) held in Valencia, …

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Creating the future of textiles: Industry support for university research

June 1, 2012

Industry support for university researchers can help drive new developments in advanced textiles markets. By Amit Kapoor What are the most exciting or intriguing developments in the industry in advanced technologies? First Line Technology primarily develops and manufactures products for the U.S. Department of Defense and first responders, so some of the most intriguing developments …

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Creating the future of textiles: E-textile technology

May 1, 2012

E-textile technology for personal safety and health applications will someday provide smart garments for everyday wear. By Tom Martin What are the most exciting or intriguing developments in the industry in advanced textiles? The most exciting development is the potential for textiles to sense and respond to their environments and situations. In particular, integrating sensors …