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Billy Hunter

Editor's Viewpoint

29th July 2016, Manchester

Smart textiles and innovative technologies take centre stage

A number of companies and research institutions have recently announced the results of their latest studies about the innovative use of processing and coating technologies, revealing some exciting news for the smart textiles industry.

For example, in a joint project called AlBioTex, researchers at the Hohenstein Institute, B.R.A.I.N AG and Kelheim Fibres have successfully developed wound dressings made from bacterial alginate. According to the scientists, the results will form the basis for incorporating bacterial alginate in industrial production.

Wound dressing (nonwoven/fleece) made from alginate fibres derived from bacteria. Bacterial alginate nonwoven materials absorb up to 70% more liquid than marine alginate nonwovens. © Hohenstein Institute

This means that the conventional, time-consuming process of obtaining the biopolymer from brown algae can be avoided and replaced by a sustainable biotechnological process, researchers report. Read more here – Researchers produce wound dressings made from bacterial alginate.

Researchers produce self-healing textiles

A team of researchers at Penn State have also announced the results of their latest project in the ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. Scientists have developed a method for making fabrics for protective suits that not only self-heal but can also protect people from toxic materials.

The procedure consists of dipping the material in a series of liquids to create layers of material to form a self-healing, polyelectrolyte layer-by-layer coating. According to the article describing the method, this coating is deposited “under ambient conditions in safe solvents, such as water, at low cost using simple equipment amenable to scale-up.”

For manufacturing environments where hazardous chemicals are necessary, clothing produced this way could help protect against accidental chemical releases. The future use of these coatings in medical meshes could also help patients minimize infections for quick recovery. For more details, click here – Researchers develop coating technology to produce self-healing textiles.

Anti-dust mite textiles help relieve neurodermatitis symptoms

More important news for the protective and medical textiles sectors came from German scientists, who tested neurodermatitis patients for dust mite allergy. It was found that 90% of sufferers were allergic to dust mites, without realising it. This has now also been confirmed in a study from England, which shows how dust mite allergens activate the immune system and trigger an inflammatory reaction in the skin.

Following these findings, the Hohenstein Institute reported that patients suffering from neurodermatitis may benefit from textiles that were proven to provide effective protection against dust mites.

According to the team of researchers, there is a demand for such protective products, especially from healthcare institutions, hotels and guest-houses but also from private households. In the light of the new findings, the manufacturers and retailers of textiles that are specifically intended for neurodermatitis sufferers should also attach increased importance to providing evidence that their textiles are "anti-dust mite effective". Find out more here – Anti-dust mite textiles may help relieve neurodermatitis symptoms.

BAE Systems to start production of connected clothing

Another news for the smart textiles industry is the recent announcement from BAE Systems, which has agreed a partnership with a leading e-textiles developer, Intelligent Textiles Limited. The agreement covers the delivery of Broadsword Spine, an innovative piece of wearable technology which can turn clothing into networked technology, in high volumes and at low cost.

Broadsword Spine is an e-textile based layer that when added to a user’s clothing is said to create an invisible electronic network and power supply, by using conductive fabrics instead of wires and cables. With the innovative network, users can plug vital electronic devices straight into their vest, jacket or belt and have them instantly hooked into power and data via USB.

The new product has been designed specifically as an alternative to the heavy portable data and power supplies currently carried by military and emergency service personnel. See more here – BAE Systems to start production of its next generation connected clothing.

DyStar to set up new Global Innovation Center

DyStar has recently confirmed its commitment to continuous innovation in products, services and manufacturing technologies by announcing plans to set up a new Global Innovation Center at its production site of DyStar Nanjing Colours.

The centre will incorporate state-of-the-art laboratories for R&D, process technology development and up-scale laboratories for synthesis and finish of dyes and chemicals for its textile and industrial segments.

A scale-up unit for small production will also be housed in the new facility. With a footprint of 3,000m2, the R&D centre will focus on new molecules and chemicals development and is anticipated to be completed at the end of March 2017. See more here – DyStar to set up new Global Innovation Center at its Nanjing site.

Kraig Biocraft Laboratories expands domestic spider silk production

Also expanding its capacities is Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, a leading developer of spider silk based fibres, who has announced the signing of a lease, and taking of possession, for its new production facility in Indiana, in response to increased demand.

The company has already begun interior construction and expects to have the facility ready for operations by 10 August 2016. This facility is expected to increase the company’s US production capacity by nearly twenty times.

This facility will be used to fulfil the company’s recently awarded contract from the US Government and to potentially supply additional collaborative textile developers. Read more here – Kraig Biocraft Laboratories expands domestic spider silk production with Indiana facility.

 

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Jana Bukolovska

Editorial Assistant

 

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