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Wonders of technology

Nowadays technical textiles are an inescapable part of almost every aspect of our daily life: from specialised outdoor or protective clothing, to medical textiles with antibacterial effects, to flame-resistant upholstery and decorative fabrics, to textile-reinforced concrete, or extended-area fabrics for roofing purposes. Common to all are the technical functions, based on years of research and development, the results of which comprise specialised fibres and yarns.

And at this point the scientists, chemists and textile engineers are just beginning. In medicine particularly “intelligent” technical textiles provide innumerable potential applications and benefits. Among the possibilities already available in the near future will be bed covers which monitor the vital functions of the patients as they lie in bed and can send signals if irregularities should transpire. Or biomaterials which close wounds or can actually be inserted in the human body and, once they have fulfilled their task, are reabsorbed again. Even now specialist textiles which can be used in the interiors of hospitals or nursing facilities are already taking over numerous functional characteristics. Thus, for example, particular decorative materials promote air purification while at the same time creating a positive effect on interior acoustics.

The functional, flame-resistant textiles from Drapilux help to protect residents, patients and staff in care institutions and hospitals against germs and to improve room acoustics. The additional "Drapilux air" function, by which the metallic salts embedded in the textiles break up the odour molecules and convert them into harmless carbon dioxide and water, further ensures a good quality of interior air. Photograph: Drapilux.

The functional, flame-resistant textiles from Drapilux help to protect residents, patients and staff in care institutions and hospitals against germs and to improve room acoustics. The additional “Drapilux air” function, by which the metallic salts embedded in the textiles break up the odour molecules and convert them into harmless carbon dioxide and water, further ensures a good quality of interior air. Photograph: Drapilux.

In public areas, in railway stations, airports, government offices, town halls or museums, in vehicles of high passenger density in public transport, or in hospitality facilities such as hotels or restaurants, technical textiles are a constant, invisible companion. Easy-care, easy-to-clean upholstery fabrics give a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing impression, yet they can stand the toughest wear. Dim-out fabrics are seen by hotel guests as a welcome tool for room darkening – while at the same time their “hidden” technical features ensure additional sound absorption and heat regulation. And carpets which, through individual colourings, serve as a guidance system or just impart warmth or convey a pleasant atmosphere, can – through the high-tech fibres used in them – act to purify the air and balance the temperature.

All these additional functions provided by technical textiles, yarns and fibres remain initially unnoticed, yet they make an outstanding contribution to safety, comfort and wellbeing in any building. It is the same with the outer shell. Nowadays technical textiles provide automated shading systems and intelligent air conditioning, and they save on conventional building materials such as concrete. Vertical greening too, for instance, has only become possible through research and development in technical textiles. Or textile moss walls which act to reduce fine dust in cities. Lightweight components based on technical textiles are as common in modern construction practice as sensor functions on textiles in fibre composites.

The breathable upholstery fabric "laif VyP" from Continental ensures increased comfort in homes and buildings. This innovative hybrid material of vinyl and polyurethane utilises the best features of both basic components: the softness of surface and long life of the material. The only raw materials to be used are those which contain no traditional solvents and are based on high-quality watery PU systems and finishings. As a result, this material won the German Innovation Award for 2018. Photograph: Continental.

The breathable upholstery fabric “laif VyP” from Continental ensures increased comfort in homes and buildings. This innovative hybrid material of vinyl and polyurethane utilises the best features of both basic components: the softness of surface and long life of the material. The only raw materials to be used are those which contain no traditional solvents and are based on high-quality watery PU systems and finishings. As a result, this material won the German Innovation Award for 2018. Photograph: Continental.

But though technical textiles are taking over major functions and accelerating innovation in many sectors, they remain mostly unnoticed at first sight. So it is all the more important to consider this subject thoroughly and to follow the developments taking place in technical textiles. A date which all those interested should mark red in their calendars is that of Techtextil, which will run currently with Texprocess – two fairs which every two years fill the Frankfurt Fair and Exhibition Halls with textile innovations. The next time from 4 to 7 May 2021.

By: Cornelia Gross

Lilliffer Seiler

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