Specialty Fabrics Review May 2019 - 64

FOCUS

MARKETS

CONSUMER
PROTECTIVE TEXTILES
ARE PRICE-SENSITIVE,
SO THE COST OF
MANUFACTURING HAS
TO BE CONTROLLED.

64 REVIEW MAY 2019

Involvement with industry groups to
promote and market the product is also
valuable, yet this aspect has often been
overlooked. Participating in industry
associations, such as the Industrial Fabrics
Association International (IFAI), Brusselsbased EDANA and Cary, N.C.-based
Association of Nonwoven Fabrics Industry
(INDA), can help a business establish itself
in the industrial and technical textiles field.
An important customer for advanced
protective textiles sector is government,
specifically defense. Current and future
requirements are released by agencies
via broad agency announcements and
presentations at defense industry days. In
the U.S., the nodal agency for chemical and
biological defense is the Defense Threat
Reduction Agency (DTRA). It's worthwhile
to establish communications with these
agencies, to get a start in this field.
PROTECTIVE TEXTILES
CLASSIFICATIONS
As the sector's name indicates, it deals with
non-commodity textiles; hence functionality
becomes a priority as opposed to aesthetics.
More importantly, while the market may
be esoteric, the field is broad and protection
can be offered by soft textiles, hybrids and
composites to counter different threats at
various threat levels. Using a broad perspective
of the protective textiles industry, it can be
categorized this way:
* Class 1: Protection based on end-users
* Class 2: Protection based on threat agents
The protective textiles industry based on endusers (Class 1) can be further divided into:
A. General consumer
B. First responders
C. Local law enforcement personnel
D. Warfighters
The level of threat normally increases from
category A to C, and so do functional and
quality requirements, as well as regulatory
burdens. It does in no way mean that the
threat to common consumers and general
public is less serious, but there is a general
understanding that higher level threats, such
as those in war zones and combat, require
highly functionalized personal protective
equipment that's governed by stringent
quality standards.

Class 1. Threats to consumers' health
and the spread of disease is a serious issue
worldwide, but new research is showing
that a simple solution can have an important
impact: single-use disinfectant wipes offer a
simple means to counter common chemicals
and microbes. These threat agents are
normally transmitted due to daily activities
in public settings.
Recently published collaborative research
between scientists from the U.K. and Finland
showed that plastic trays used in airports are
a breeding ground for infectious viruses. This
study was conducted in Helsinki's Vantaa
Airport, and studies like this show the need for
common protective tools, such as nonwoven
wet wipes impregnated with alcohol.
As with any consumer products, cost plays
an important factor in buying decisions.
Consumer protective textiles are pricesensitive, so the cost of manufacturing has to
be controlled. This type of consumer product
is made in a hydroentanglement nonwoven
process, using polyester and viscose fibers to
keep the cost under control. The functionality
comes from the chemical component; the
spunlace fibrous structure provides the
integrity and the platform to add chemistry.
Common chemical formulations involve
alcohol for consumer wipes and bleach for
industrial and hard surface cleaning wipes.
In the case of bleach, the formulation is
normally hypochlorite, with an available
active chemical of about 6 percent. Apart from
these consumer protective wipes, another
category is industrial wipes that are relatively
heavier than consumer wipes. These can be
made using a needlepunching process, which
make them cost-effective.
Class 2 protective textiles are based on
threat agents that they're designed to address,
and can be broadly separated into:
1. Defense textiles
2. Medical textiles
Within the defense category, subcategories
include ballistic protection; chemical, biological
and nuclear (CBN) protection; and thermal
protection. Thermal protection is a broad
field and involves protection for warfighters,
firefighters and emergency personnel.
The medical category involves protection
against microbes such as bacteria, fungi, viruses,
bloodborne pathogens and bodily fluids. In a



Specialty Fabrics Review May 2019

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