Specialty Fabrics Review March 2020 - 14

BRIEFINGS

SWATCHES

Bananas for technical textiles

W

Sustainable, smart
and fashionable
bags are sourced
from banana trees
instead of synthetic
textiles that can be
environmentally
harmful. Photos:
QWSTION.

hen designing a more sustainable future, sometimes the solution lies
in unexpected places. That's the idea behind Bananatex®, a durable,
waterproof fabric made from banana plants.
The textile is derived from Abacá, also known as banana hemp, a member
of the banana tree family. The brainchild of QWSTION, a Swiss backpack maker
known for combining design and functionality with sustainability, Bananatex
is sourced from Abacá grown organically in the Philippines. Sturdy and selfsufficient, Abacá has contributed to reforestation and economic opportunities
in the areas in which it is grown.
The process to create the textile first requires turning the natural fibers into a
paper that is thin yet tear-resistant due to the way the fibers are oriented. The paper
is cut into thin strips and then twisted into yarn that is spun into the fabric.
The result is a lightweight and flexible fabric with a high tensile strength. It's
finished with a beeswax coating to make it water-resistant, smooth and supple.
QWSTION offers roll packs, pouches and other bags and accessories made from
100 percent Bananatex. The white bags are the natural color of the fibers. The black
options are colored using a yarn dyeing method certified to OEKO-TEX® STANDARD
100. To close the loop, the fabric is 100 percent biodegradable and the zippers and
buckles used in the bags can be recycled. For more information, visit www.qwstion.com.

An exosuit for any gait

W

hen walking, a person's center of mass is like a pendulum that
is highest at midstance, when the leg is straight. The opposite
happens when running. The body moves like a spring-mass system
and is lowest at midstance when the hip, knee and ankle are flexed.
This reality of how the body works presents a challenge when it
comes to developing devices to assist walking and running. It seemed
impossible to create a portable device that could aid different gait cycles.
Researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired
Engineering and John A. Paulson School of Engineering and
Applied Sciences (SEAS), and the University of Nebraska Omaha
were up for the challenge. They've developed a soft exosuit that
adjusts to support both walking and running.
The suit is worn at the waist and thighs. It's made of textile
components that are comfortable as opposed to a rigid device.
The fabric is structured to mimic the function of the underlying
tendons and muscles, so when force is applied, the exosuit works
in parallel with the body. A cable system, attached to the lower
back, is controlled by an algorithm that uses sensors to detect the
transition from walking to running and vice versa.
The cables transmit forces from the waist belt to the joints.
The exosuit could have a range of applications including assisting
people with gait impairments and protecting industry workers
from injury. For more information, visit www.wyss.harvard.edu.

The wearable exosuit is lightweight, nonrestrictive
and allows the user to move naturally. It may one day
be available to aid walking and running in all kinds of
situations. Photo: Wyss Institute at Harvard University.

14 REVIEW MARCH 2020

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http://www.qwstion.com http://www.wyss.harvard.edu

Specialty Fabrics Review March 2020

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