Thanks to big leaps in innovation and technology, the textile industry has sharply rebounded from its pre-recession slump. Need proof? The Department of Defence recently invested $300 million in the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), a nonprofit textiles innovation hub housed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Textile Insights, a trade magazine, recently published an article profiling three of the cutting-edge projects pushing the industry forward:
- Dupont’s new line of conductive ink: These fully stretchable, washable, electronic inks are manufacture-ready and work with the standard screen-printing process. The product line was presented at the recent Smart Fabric Summit, in Washington DC, by Steven Willoughby, a marketing manager with DuPont Electronics and Communications. “Within five years, smart clothes will outsell smartphones,” Willoughby predicted.
- Athletix by Globe Manufacturing Company: This “smart” firefighter suit, developed through a private-public-academic partnership, integrates a Wearable Advanced Sensor Platform (WASP) system. It collects physical data while tracking the wearer’s on-site location, allowing firefighters to stay safe while pursuing a rescue. Athletix combines a wearable base layer with Zephyr Bioharness performance monitoring technology and TRX location tracking. Clare King, president of Propel, LLC, partnered with Globe, the Army, Homeland Security, and several New England colleges to develop this project.
- Tersus Solutions “water-free” textile cleaner: This Colorado-based company found a cleansing solution that doesn’t require water. The secret is a liquid carbon dioxide, which has been converted from gas using a proprietary process that involves pressurization. Tersus has financial backing from Patagonia and recently announced their launch with a large industrial laundry operation. The new product has several implications for the textile industry: reduced pollution and energy use, better maintenance for fabrics with electronic inks, and better cleaning options for heavy-duty, water absorbing military gear, such as a ballistic vest. The prospect of waterless laundry means textile designers can consider a wider range of materials and constructions as well.
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