Innovation in Abundance at Techtextil

11/4/2013
Frankfurt’s three-day Techtextil show was full of innovation across product groups with a wide range of applications for textiles and nonwovens, and increased combining of technical textiles and textile-processing technologies, said Michael Jaenecke, Messe Frankfurt GmbH board member responsible for textiles/non-wovens.

He noted that the textile products and other raw materials for textile and apparel manufacturing on display at the show took account of the latest trends in lightweight construction, functionality, sustainability and mobility. “Some novelties include sensory systems for apparel, extremely light textile-reinforced concrete and natural fiber-based composites for automobiles,” he says.

Beyond the innovation coming from the sector, Jaenecke also remarked on the multiple synergies between the technical textiles and the range of textile-processing technologies products at the coinciding Texprocess show.

Talk to the hand
TITV Greiz, a German research institute for special textiles and flexible materials, showcased its latest high-tech solution, which uses classical textile technology as the basis for developing new working materials. The institute exhibited a variety of textiles, including apparel that lights up, and skiing gloves from which one can make and receive telephone calls.

TITV has developed a new way to apply LEDs. Typically, conductive paths for illuminated textiles using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are applied to textiles with weaving or stitching technologies, but in this case the tiny LEDs were handled with tweezers outside the machine and positioned manually on the conductive paths with solder or conductive adhesive, explained Sabine Gimpel, a TITV representative. This manufacturing process can be expensive, making application practical only to small areas or prototypes. One of the key applications of these LED textiles is in the manufacture of costumes for figure-skating competitors.

Got milk?
Another interesting product that seemed to attract considerable attention was the so-called “Q-Milch” fiber material presented by German firm Qmilch Deutschland GmbH. Anke Domaske, company founder, explains that the Q-Milch fiber material is made from casein concentrate extracted from powdered milk. The protein fibers are used as thread that is then spun into yarn.

By heating the material, the molecules bond, thereby preventing them from breaking down. “Casein has extremely high glutamine and calcium content with high industry potential,” Domaske adds.

Because of laws regulating milk production and consumption in Germany, about 1.9 million tons of milk are discarded annually and cannot be marketed or consumed as food. Qmilch Deutschland extends the product’s lifecycle; the fiber is made of 100 percent recyclable materials. Qmilch's technology and special manufacturing process have set new standards in fiber production, says Domaske.

Getting your reptile on
Switzerland-based Schoeller Technologies presented a new textile technology called solar+ ™ - Soak Up the Sun, a finish the company says helps textiles better absorb the sun’s heat rays. “Even thin fabrics can provide more warmth and keep the wearer comfortably warm,” says marketing representative Lien Hyunh.

Taking its cues from nature, the finish operates like the skin of a snake or other cold-blooded reptile. On sunny days reptiles emerge from their habitats to bask in the sunshine. Their skin is designed to efficiently absorb the heat rays and this thermal energy enables the animal to accelerate and react quickly.

solar+™ works in a similar way. Especially on days that are sunny but cold, textiles (of any color) treated with the finish absorb the sun’s heat rays more efficiently. Even thin fabrics treated with solar+™ provide greater warmth for the wearer, improving the body’s heat management capabilities and leading to a higher degree of comfort and performance.

Another interesting piece of technology featured at the Techtextil show was Hohenstein Laboratories GmbH’s aero-acoustic test for permeable textiles, which can be used for a variety of applications including automobile interiors and large offices.

Wearing butterfly food, filaments that can feel, new innovations in FR
Encore 3 at the Canada Pavilion showcased Monark, a fiber produced from milkweed that is harvested in the same manner as cotton, behaves like silk — and is the exclusive food of the monarch butterfly.

Wuerzburg, Germany-based Alpha-Fit GmbH exhibited its “functional intelligent textiles” designed for the development of measuring and diagnosing systems used in sports, orthopedics, medicine and technology.

Alpha-Fit’s new technical textile is made with special coated filaments that possess unique sensory properties. These new filaments can measure space-resolved pressure distribution on variable areas in 3D — without actual sensors. Pressure-sensitive filaments worked into specially produced fabrics can be applied to various body parts, such as hands, feet and knees.

Functional Apparel Textiles’ booth showcased corsages with LEDs or, as        Forward Textile Technologies editor Viola Konrad put it, “haute couture meets high-tech.” Other highlights here included advansa’s ski overalls with thermo cool properties; a feather-light down jacket weighing just 285 grams; a fitness shirt that monitors vital signs; and a sailing jacket constructed of thin padding with a high warming factor.

German fiber-manufacturing company Trevira GmbH displayed innovative fibers (including bi-component fibers) in polyester and PLA (Ingeo™), flame-retardant and other special fibers and yarns in polyester and standard and spun-dyed filaments, as well as microfilament and hybrid yarns.

According to the company, Trevira filaments cover a broad range of applications for technical textiles, with flame-retardant yarns for the construction of exhibition stands and print base materials (Trevira CS) now standard. In addition, the firm produces special yarns for medical and hygiene textiles, as well as textured PBT filaments that serve as a base for transdermal patches and bandages.

Hybrid yarns constitute an important specialty, blending a low-melt component (NSK) with a Trevira standard or flame-retardant filament. Using thermal treatment, textile fabrics made from these hybrid yarns can be controlled and shaped almost at will, and finally fixed in this state. They can also be described as thermoplastic composites or “prepregs.” The single-material composition of these products — 100 percent polyester — means they can be recycled. Moreover, they can be finished in a variety of ways that are not only energy-saving but also dyeable and printable.

This makes the fibers an interesting and compelling alternative, in both ecological and economic terms, because a stiffening coating of acrylate, for example, becomes unnecessary. When used in combination with flame-retardant Trevira filaments, the materials satisfy important international fire standards.

With staple fibers Trevira continues to focus on customer-specific product developments. Standard elements in the delivery program are short-cut fibers for air-laid and wet-laid applications in hygiene products, for example. Flame-retardant fibers are also increasingly found in non-woven products.

The extensive range of bicomponent fibers constitute various raw material combinations such as PET/PE, PET/Co-PET and PET/PBT. Bicomponent fibers in core-sheath technology are used primarily in the manufacture of thermally bonded materials or non-wovens, for instance in the automotive sector, for insulation and filtration materials, and also for hygiene products. 

Manik Mehta is a New York-based free-lance writer specializing in sourcing issues and textile technologies. 
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