Smart and Technical Textiles

Smart and Technical
Why do I need to know about
Smart and Technical fabrics?
• This subject is often included in your GCSE
A recent exam question showed a baseball cap and
asked for a name of a smart fabric and an
explanation of how it would be used to enhance
the product.
What are Technical Textiles?
• Technical textiles have been developed
for their performance, and functional
• The aesthetics (visual appearance) is
less important.
• They are often made of microfibres
(synthetic fibres up to 100 times finer
than human hair)
Who uses Technical Textiles?
The building industry
The agricultural industry
The medical industry
Automotive and Aeronautical industries
The Armed forces and the Police
Sportsmen and women
• Technical Textiles are all around us.
Here are just a few examples:
• Super absorbent
medical textiles
used in wipes, wound
dressings, nappies.
• Super stretchy
polyester yarns
knitted on machines
(no seams) & used in
artery replacement
Combating MRSA in hospitals
• X-Static® is the
name of new yarn
which uses silver in
its production.
• Trials have shown it
will eliminate 99.9%
of bacteria within 1
hour including MRSA
• Future uses could be
hospital bedding &
Technical Fabrics used by the
Armed Services and Police
• Kevlar – used in body
armour / bullet
proof vests.
• High Visibility
jackets use strips of
3M retro-reflective
tape. This works by
concentrating the
light source &
reflecting it back.
Lots of Technical Fabrics in
• Nomex - fire
retardant used in
Formula 1 (& also
oven gloves)
• Gortex – water
repellent and
windproof: used in
cycle jackets,
outdoor wear
Breathable Fabrics
• Coolmax by DuPont
was developed for
Sportswear: it
transports moisture
away from the body
to the surface of
the fabric, to keep
you dry &
• These are fabrics
that have been
designed to mimic
• Speedo’s Fastskin®
swimsuit was
developed using Vshaped fibres which
mimic the ridges
found on the skin of
a shark
Electronic Textiles
• These are becoming more common & are
a fast-growing part of the textiles
• They meet 2 consumer needs:
– Fashion
– The desire for mobile communication and
entertainment devices.
Electronic Textiles
• Soft switches can be
incorporated into
garments which have
been woven with
conductive threads
• You could keep your ipod safe in your bag &
turn up the volume
without opening it, or
plug your phone into
your jacket &, text your
friends with buttons on
your sleeve!
The possibilities are endless!
What are Smart Textiles?
Smart textiles are designed to react to
conditions around them.
They can respond to external stimuli, e.g.
Hot or cold temperatures
Memory Textiles
• Temperature & pressure
sensitive foam that
moulds to the shape of
the body & returns to
normal when pressure is
• Originally developed by
NASA to help
astronauts deal with GForce when blasting-off
into space
Pressure response Fabric
• D3o is a new innovation
• It is a soft malleable most of the time
• When it comes into contact with force
it hardens on impact
• Have a look at this clip to see how it
• Chemicals / Fragrances
are captured in
microscopic polymer
bubbles which are added
to natural or
• When the fabric is
rubbed or comes into
contact with the skin,
the bubbles slowly burst
to release their content
Textiles with Micro-encapsulation
• Fragrances added to
socks to combat
smelly feet
• Sea Minerals added
to tights to help
reduce cellulite
• Anti allergen
chemicals added to
Dye Technology
• Smart chemicals can
be added to dyes
which are printed on
to textiles.
• Some are purely for
fun and novelty value
• Others can have
more serious uses.
Fragrance can be added to
dyes to make scratch & sniff
T-shirts, baby’s fabric books,
Thermo chromic dyes
• These dyes react to
• They change colour
at a particular
• The resulting colours
& effects will
depend if they are
applied just to a
fabric, or mixed with
another dye.
Photo chromic dyes
• Photo chromic dyes
react to day light /
UV light & change
• Products include
beads & trims,
threads & fabrics
• Have you seen photo
chromic lenses in
Phosphorescent Pigments
• These dyes are used in
glow-in-the dark
• Often used in prints on
novelty clothing such as
children’s nightwear,
clothes for clubbing or
Halloween costumes
• Originally developed for
clock hands & numbers
• Some baby’s dummies
have this treatment
Some more Electronic Fabrics
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