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Advanced Textiles 2010: High-tech highlights

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The day-long program “Textiles for Extreme Applications,” headlining the 7th Intl. Conference on Safety & Protective Fabrics on Oct. 26, 2010, led off the 2010 Advanced Textiles sessions at IFAI Expo Americas. Sustainability, insulation, wellness and force mitigation made the headlines this year. Some high points:

Extreme Sustainability challenged participants to run energy-efficient companies that manufacture high-tech products that are both sustainably produced and reused. Patagonia’s Steve Richardson outlined the company’s approach to a sustainable business model with new technologies, new processes and new platforms—and emphasized the products must be thoroughly tested to make sure they’re better than the nonsustainable products they’re replacing. Steve Pegg, Anvil Knitwear, discussed how his company has assessed the energy efficiency of its production and distribution centers, creating employee task groups at each location with dollar-saving goals. Tools to help companies create sustainable products and processes, including various certifications and guides, were also presented.

Extreme Textiles: Wellness presented technologies and products for body health and protection. David Horinek, Hologenix LLC, demonstrated (with audience participation) that the body gives off energy that can be harnessed to improve body function, healing and well-being. His commercial product, Celliant® biocomponent encapsulated yarn, uses natural minerals to help the body produce added oxygen levels. Horinek and his research team are currently studying the use of their product on the treatment of diabetes. For more comprehensive coverage, visit IFAI’s Safety and Technical Products Division.

Composites, present and future

Yong K. Kim, Univ. of Mass. Dartmouth College of Engineering, discussed 2-directional microfiber reinforcements to address fractures in laminar composites as a desirable alternative to 3D weaving (which can be effective, but tends to be both slow and expensive) or pinning/stitches, which can damage the fibers. Todd Dunnagan, senior business development manager with BAE Systems, introduced Tensylon®, a high-performance polyethylene for ballistic performance products that offers nontoxic, nonflammable and lightweight performance, with no solvents used in production for a greener profile.

Moisture vapor permeable fabrics for covers (military, marine, aircraft) were presented by DuPont’s John Chen, who discussed the “breathable resins,” Entira™ Smart and Entira™ Breathe, used in Transhield Inc.’s covers. For protective covers, it’s vital that the material must be soft (to avoid damaging the product) but also tough (to avoid being damaged by the product). (For more information, read Dr. Donna Visioli’s article in the August 2010 Review.)

Petroleum-free, compostable ‘green’ composites were presented by Cornell University’s Dr. Anil Netravali. The idea: to use waste products from plants for biofuels, fillers and hydro mulching, for example, and biodegradable polymers for packaging and noninvasive medical products. Dr. Netravali has been working with soy proteins (left over after the oil has been extracted) and cross-linking agents, stacking layers to get the properties needed, and sometimes using clay nanocomposites for additional strength. As with any composite, most important for ‘advanced green composites’ are: high strength, a good resin, and resin/fiber bond strength. His emphasis, however, is to develop products that are derived from the earth—and go back to the earth.

Galynn Nordstrom is the senior editor of Specialty Fabrics Review.
Janet Preus is the editor of Specialty Fabrics Review.
Chris Tschida is senior editor of Fabric Graphics, Marine Fabricator and Upholstery Journal.
Susan Niemi is the associate publisher for IFAI publications.

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