Piezoelectric energy harvesting

April 1, 2017

Packages that power biochemical and environmental sensors. Breathing is the most consistent source of kinetic energy in the human body, as it produces a large circumferential displacement in the chest, even during sleep. This oscillation is one of few mechanisms in the human body that can also be exploited noninvasively for energy harvesting. The National …

Keeping up with carbon

March 1, 2017

Demand for carbon fiber stresses market ability to provide it,  but costs and efficiences are expected to improve. Although carbon fiber as a commodity has been around since the late 1960s, only in the past 10 years can there truly be considered a dynamic market of real substance with steady growth potential. Others in the …

Special (fabric) effects

February 1, 2017

Ubisoft and OCAD University students worked together to advance the technology of the motion capture suit. Ubisoft, a leading creator, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and services, is behind some of the world’s most recognizable game brands, including Assassin’s Creed, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon and Watch Dogs, and more recently has launched Ubisoft Motion …

Better chemistry, better products

Sustainability in textile development and manufacturing is an ongoing conversation, much of it revolving around processes that conserve energy, water and natural resources. Beyond manufacturing processes, however, sustainability issues are driving true technical innovation, resulting in new products that offer a host of advantages. Replacing PFCs The search for alternatives to perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) such …

Self-cleaning textiles embrace sustainability

January 10, 2017

Self-cleaning textiles and coatings are making inroads in a variety of industries including those related to medical, architectural and fashion endeavors. Using hydrophilic and photocatalytic properties, self-cleaning textile technology allows fabrics to be cleaned simply by water without using cleaning agents. The photocatalytic component of these textiles can help decompose organics on the textile using …

Knowing what you need

January 1, 2017

Examining antimicrobial and omni-repellency performance. Textile testing was front and center at IFAI’s Advanced Textiles Conference and on the IFAI Expo 2016 show floor in Charlotte, N.C. Testing to be assured that a product will perform as expected is an important step in the development of any application; in antimicrobial performance, it is becoming even …

Biomimetics and biotextiles

December 1, 2016

Imitating nature offers sustainable choices in new textiles. Nature provides the inspiration for many innovations in business, including in the field of textiles. Some efforts, however, are quite specific in imitating nature. In fact, an entire field of science has blossomed under the name “biomimetics,” a term first coined in 1969 by Dr. Otto Schmitt, …

Military complexities

November 1, 2016

Smart materials mean lighter and more comfortable gear—and more flexible procurement policies. The nature of military warfare has undergone a seismic change over the past twenty years. Theaters of engagement are now more diverse and complex, demanding more of military personnel than ever before. The traditional procurement policy of buying in bulk to ensure standardization …

The growing ground for durable nonwovens

October 11, 2016

David Nelson was devoted to nonwoven technology at 3M when the Minnesota-based corporate powerhouse became a charter member of The Nonwovens Institute, which launched in 2007 at North Carolina State University. Nelson served on the institute’s industrial advisory board for six years, three years as chairman. He also served for six years on the board …

New materials take portable structures to another level

October 1, 2016

For Harry Osborne, creative lead at “brand experience agency” SET Live, headquartered in London, the graphic applications and collection of temporary structures throughout the “Google on the Beach 2015” (GoB) event were an exercise in balance. “A balance between getting the most from Anthony Burril’s incredible artwork,” says Osborne, “but also satisfying the local council’s …

Advanced textiles in Russia

Government invests $300 million to expand applications in the defense, aerospace and geosynthetic industries. The Russian government plans to invest up to $300 million USD in 2016 and 2017 toward developing the technical textiles industry, according to recent statements by Denis Manturov, Russia’s Minister of Industry and Trade. Manturov is responsible for the development of …

Applications for durable nonwovens

September 19, 2016

Nonwovens may be best known for their role in disposable products; but, with advances in technology, these engineered fabrics are reaching further into markets where traditional textiles have been used. Ulrich Hornfeck, board member and chief commercial officer at Sandler AG, offers examples from the German-based company’s portfolio: Transportation: interior and exterior absorbers, carrier materials …

Innovators find a variety of markets for color-changing materials

September 1, 2016

New research and applications are proving that color-changing smart textiles continue to offer viable technology and products in the smart fabrics marketplace. Most recently, researchers from the School of Information, University of California, Berkeley, have developed a new color-changing “smart thread,” Ebb, that turns fabric into a computerized display. According to information provided by the …

Market realities

June 1, 2016

Smart fabrics technologies present unique opportunities—and challenges—to commercial product development. The growth of smart fabrics technologies and applications is no longer a curiosity; it’s the new reality of high-tech fabrics, and it’s gaining ground at an impressive pace. The size of the smart fabrics market, as presented at the Smart Fabrics Summit on April 11 …

Let there be (flexible) light

May 1, 2016

As efficiencies continue to improve, more applications are found for flexible photovoltaics. For a long time, it was common knowledge that thin film and flexible photovoltaics (PV) were not practical because of their lower efficiencies compared with more traditional glass-encased PV. That is no longer the case. Efficiencies are now comparable (approaching or exceeding 20 …

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Futuristic fabrics

Today’s smart fabric products, with embedded or woven technological components, are resonating with consumers, and the market is responding. Woven, nonwoven and knitted textiles are the foundation of the fabrics that make up our daily existence, from the clothes we wear to the upholstered chairs we sit on. They’re also the building blocks of the …

Getting physical: The other smart textiles

Nonelectronic fabrics can cool, warm and clean themselves—and enhance the health and performance of the wearer. Much attention has been given to textiles that are integrated with electronic sensors and circuitry (e-textiles). But some smart textiles do not rely on electronics. According to Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman, professor and founder of the Pratt Institute Intelligent Materials Applied …

Smart Fabrics Summit draws key industry participants

Government and industry players gathered in Washington, D.C., April 11 to discuss the “nascent smart fabrics market,” as described by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, who moderated the final session at the one-day event. “This room is buzzing with energy,” said David Lauren, executive vice president of global marketing and communications for Ralph Lauren Corp., …

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The testing issue

April 1, 2016

As the textile industry continues to wrestle with questions that impact testing, certification and standardization of the processes, the testing market grows. The market for textile testing, inspection and certification is expected to reach more than $7 billion by 2020, according to a report published by MarketsandMarkets. There has been much debate on the need …

Smarter every day

The wearables market builds customer relationships with new products and high-tech expertise. The speedy acceptance of wearable technology by health and fitness enthusiasts has supported impressive growth in this market. This growth reflects today’s larger culture, in which people expect ready access to information. Consumers can even monitor and evaluate their health and fitness goals …

Clothing makes the competitor

March 1, 2016

Athletes are always looking for new ways to push the limits of endurance and test their physical and psychological mettle. It’s no secret that the right clothing can affect performance, protect against the elements and help prevent injury. But what if athletic wear could go a step further and enhance a competitor’s cognitive and physical …

Safety first

A closer look at environmentally preferred DWR finishes. With the growing emphasis on multiple functionality and comfort in safety apparel, breathable and durable water repellency (DWR) has become an important attribute of most safety clothing and workwear. Uniforms and workwear coated with PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or its greener alternative, polyurethane, successfully repel water, oil, dirt, …

Connecting the threads

February 1, 2016

Tips for obtaining strong patent protection in textiles. Imagine that a research scientist developed a new woven fabric that could potentially have a significant impact as an implantable medical device to replace damaged tissue. Excited about the potential of this breakthrough technology, this scientist now grows concerned about the next steps. How does she protect …

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Textiles in space

The textile industry has made significant contributions to human space exploration in the past. There are also important opportunities to meet NASA’s needs today. Since the start of human spaceflight, the U.S. space program has faced many challenges in clothing astronauts. Survival inside a spacecraft needed to be addressed first. Historically, human space exploration started …

R&D for everyone

January 1, 2016

Gaston College Textile Technology Center offers its equipment and expertise for hire. Autocoro, MDTA Rotorring, Spectraflash, Statimat. If you don’t have one of these, know how to operate one or even know what it does, don’t feel bad. That’s why there’s a place like Gaston College Textile Technology Center in Belmont, N.C. The facility has …

Comfortable, versatile—and smart

December 1, 2015

Interest, investment and applications in wearables show robust growth. With wearable technology continuing to thrive, IFAI’s Advanced Textiles Conference in Anaheim, Calif., in October offered attendees a variety of opportunities to learn about the current and projected market, new product offerings and breakthrough technologies. IFAI’s market research manager Jeff Rasmussen reports that the worldwide smart …

Determining relevance

November 1, 2015

A process for choosing standards and testing for your products. Standard test methods characterize goods and services so that communication between buyers and sellers is facilitated across the global marketplace. Manufacturers may be motivated to test their products according to published standards to communicate their quality or function, to enable specific advertising claims to be …

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Thriving on innovation

October 1, 2015

Success in medical and biomedical textiles markets requires established expertise and a long-term commitment. If you want to talk about today’s medical textiles markets, it’s necessary to go beyond the end product—and even the finished textile—and look at what goes into making that textile. And as much as highly engineered materials are now well established, …

Vital signs

The medical textiles market is growing, serving both health and wellness. The majority of research and development in smart materials comes from transport. Health and well-being have great need of responsive technologies, so why should medical textiles be one of the smallest sectors of the market? The time and money involved in bringing a product …

What to wear to Mars

September 1, 2015

Requirements for space garments share similarities with those worn on Earth. For human space missions beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO), the logistical burden is at least twice as great as that of missions in low-Earth orbit. Take, for instance, a trip to Mars, which is being planned by NASA to occur sometime in the 2030s. For …

Keeping it cool in space

August 1, 2015

Specialized textiles play an important role in thermal control for an evolving aerospace marketplace. Where there are flights, space missions and satellites, there are advanced textiles. For composites used in aircraft engines, multi-layer insulation (MLI) blankets for launch support and satellites, or—of course—space wear for participants of manned space exploration, textiles and textile components are …

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Not too hot, not too cold

New textiles and applications that control temperature provide comfort and safety in extreme conditions. When obstacles for achieving a goal are temperature related, there’s a good chance that textiles are a part of the solution. Just ask Erik Weihenmayer, who has scaled the Seven Summits (the highest mountains on each of the seven continents) and …

A fashion statement in 4-D

July 1, 2015

Nothing to wear? What if you could digitally print a dress, put it on and go? That possibility is not so far-fetched with a process created by Nervous System, an innovative design studio that describes itself as working at the intersection of science, art and technology. The company’s Kinematics Dress is made of thousands of …

Healthy prospects

Nonwoven PLA could thrive in the health care market. PLA, or polylactic acid, is a relatively recent innovation, but it is already the most commonly used bioplastic today. It’s a polyester, but with a key difference: instead of being made from petrochemicals, it’s plant-sourced. The process, developed by Minnetonka, Minn.-based Cargill Inc. in the late …

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Narrow fabrics industrial evolution

Narrow fabrics are matching the high-performance needs of safety, medical and military markets with their own technological advances. Say “narrow fabric” and the average consumer may think of ribbon and zippers. The markets for narrow fabric manufacturers go far beyond those products, and with ongoing technological advances are broadening even further. Carolina Narrow Fabric proves …

Smaller, “smarter” and versatile

Multidimensional narrow fabrics offer new ways to develop structures in medical and biomedical applications. A narrow fabric is loosely defined as being any non-elastic woven textile having a width of 12 inches or less and a woven selvage on each side. Narrow fabrics found use early on as hat bands, in corsets and lingerie, and …

Understanding the textile supply chain

June 1, 2015

AATCC conference focuses on sustainability and innovations. By Seshadri Ramkumar, Ph.D. The historic city of Savannah, Ga., hosted a gathering of more than 200 people who participated in deliberations on the latest developments in consumer trends, textile chemicals, fiber and material innovations. This year’s American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) Conference had three …

Wearables dispute

“Smart Shirt” patent infringement claim names well-known brands. In January 2015, Sarvint Technologies Inc., Atlanta, Ga., filed complaints for patent infringement in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia against a number of leading brands, including Adidas North America, Ralph Lauren Corp., Textronics Inc. and Victoria’s Secret. Sarvint may not be a well-known …

Rethinking cotton in nonwovens

May 1, 2015

Sustainability concerns and better processes are making the use of cotton in nonwovens more attractive. By Paul Sawhney, D.Sc. The words “cotton” and “advanced textiles” have not, typically, been used in the same breath. There are some good reasons for that, including the price tag. But new processes for integrating small amounts of cotton into …

Path to success

April 1, 2015

FiberTect® illustrates a successful strategy for commercializing a new technology. “Applied research deserves Nobel prizes,” proclaimed the editorial of Nature Materials in January 2010…

Expansion in layers

March 1, 2015

Flexible composites are finding practical application in a growing number of industries. The world of composites covers a range of materials and applications. Flexible composites have long been manufactured to perform specific functions in generally demanding environments. Their tremendous strength-to-weight ratio and design flexibility make them ideal in structural components for the transportation industry. High …

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Energy for the future

Flexible and durable power-generating textiles are poised to make a difference in meeting tomorrow’s energy requirements. Looking forward, before imagination meets prototype, the next generation of energy-producing products seems unattainable. Looking backward, after such innovations are readily available, the development process seems logical—and simple. It’s the “hindsight is 20/20” phenomenon. While photovoltaic power-harvesting technologies are …

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Energy for the future

Flexible and durable power-generating textiles are poised to make a difference in meeting tomorrow’s energy requirements. Looking forward, before imagination meets prototype, the next generation of energy-producing products seems unattainable. Looking backward, after such innovations are readily available, the development process seems logical—and simple. It’s the “hindsight is 20/20” phenomenon. While photovoltaic power-harvesting technologies are …

Expansion in layers

Flexible composites are finding practical application in a growing number of industries. The world of composites covers a range of materials and applications. Flexible composites have long been manufactured to perform specific functions in generally demanding environments. Their tremendous strength-to-weight ratio and design flexibility make them ideal in structural components for the transportation industry. High …

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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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Light play

Getting creative with textiles When most people walk into a retail store, they see an array of color-popping advertising displays. If shoppers take a closer look, they might notice these backlit displays are not made of film or some sort of vellum, but of a tightly woven, printed fabric. Eric Tischer, president of Randolph, N.J.-based …

Marching into the future

November 1, 2014

Smart textiles drive developments in many of the applications most desired by the military. The military continues to be one of the markets most interested in adopting smart textile technologies. In fact, military applications represented 21 percent of the smart fabric market in 2013. This year, the U. S. Army Natick Soldier RD&E Center (Natick) …

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A U.S. Army wish list

The U.S. Army tells the textile industry exactly what it wants in the next generation of clothing, gear and structures. By Sigrid Tornquist Fiber reinforced, insect repellent, modular, ergonomic, chemical resistant, paper thin but super tough, omniphobic. These are some of the properties the U.S. Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) is …

Under the sea

October 1, 2014

New textile sheets boost yields in seaweed farming. Seaweed, it is believed, is an important but under-exploited resource for food and feed ingredients, biochemicals and the production of biofuels. However, it has been difficult to harvest efficiently on a large scale. The European Union-funded AT~SEA project is addressing this challenge and has developed advanced textiles …

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Outer limits

High-performance fabrics and finishes stretch the capabilities of athletes and recreational sports enthusiasts. Once upon a time, recreational sports were pretty tame: croquet, badminton, golf, rowing. But as humans eyed what new technology afforded them in the way of action, they began pushing the physical limits. When ESPN launched the X Games in 1995, it …