Compiled by Galynn Nordstrom, Janet Preus, Chris Tschida and Susan Niemi
Dr. Roshan Shishoo, Shishoo Consulting AB, introduced the five textile-related uses for nanotechnology currently under development or in use—polymeric nanofiberwebs (for tissue engineering, for example), nanofibers containing nanoparticles (aerospace and automotive applications), textile materials with nanofinishes (flame-retardant treatments, antimicrobials), textile coatings containing nanoparticles (water and soil repellents) and carbon nanotubes. Applications are virtually unlimited, but he noted that for more widespread commercial use, R&D gaps need to be filled, and market demand must increase. There’s also a growing need to establish global quality standards and methods of testing effectiveness and safety. Ultimately, he said, “nanotechnology will become an integral part of the manufacturing processes for making advanced textiles.”
Drawing special interest from attendees was the liquid-repellent nanotech coating from P2i, demonstrated by Dr. Stephen Coulson, chief technical officer. The plasma technology process is applied to the final product, not to fabrics or components, which could leak at assembly points. The “ion mask” chemically binds to the surface at nano scale, and applies to any 2D or 3D surface with no change to the look or feel of the material. The process is solvent free, energy efficient (low temperature) and lightweight; it doesn’t add to the weight of the final product, and doesn’t wash off. Currently under development: protein resistance, scratch resistance, fingerprint resistance, antimicrobial and hydophobic applications. Future opportunities include creating fire-retardant and low friction/lubricity applications.