Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 49

ADVANCED TEXTILES

FOCUS

A new ski helmet design uses a
shaped and foam-filled woven
spacer fabric to distribute the
force of impact quickly and
in a more uniform manner. It
was developed by the German
Institutes for Textile and Fiber
Research Denkendorf (DITF).
Photo: Marie O'Mahony.

Novel fabric structures
New materials and compositions for fabrics support innovations.
BY MARIE O'MAHONY

H

ealth and safety are proving to be key drivers of innovative new fabric structures.
These can prompt new designs in existing products and devices, or even whole new
products. This is possible with imagination, expertise and an openness to look for
solutions outside conventional thinking.
Strength can, of course, include hardness, but to be truly effective it may also need to be
flexible rather than rigid, particularly when worn on the human body. An understanding
of the importance of comfort to performance and user acceptance has prompted a welcome
evaluation of materials, particularly where there is weight-saving to be made or a design
innovation. Four developments from different global regions illustrate the potential for novel
textiles to guide design and deliver medical and protective benefits to the user.
A LAYERED APPROACH
A 3D weave coupled with foam has been shown to provide an ideal structure for impact
absorption and dissipation in protective helmets. Researchers at the German Institutes for
Textile and Fiber Research Denkendorf (DITF) are utilizing a 3D weaving process to produce
a spacer fabric that can be foam-filled and molded to form the basis for a three-dimensional,
spherical structure such as a ski helmet.
Fiber use and placement can be optimized so that additional fibers can be used in the
outermost layer where full coverage is required, but near the head a grid-like formation
provides for a snug fit with minimal contact points. This approach maximizes the capacity for
shock absorbency while at the same time reducing weight and material use. The combination
of woven spacer and particle foam is shown in testing to increase the capacity for shock
absorption by 30 percent over conventional designs.
TATTOO INSPIRED
Patients undergoing surgical treatment for throat cancer can suffer from a temporary or
even permanent loss of voice, as well as risk facial disfigurement. Researchers at Soochow
University in China and the National University of Singapore are developing a very thin
tattoo-like epidermal patch as a human-machine interface (HMI) to improve a patient's ability
to communicate. The patch is able to record surface electromyography (sEMG) created by
the patient's facial muscles and jaw movement that allows for smart voice recognition, voice
synthesis and virtual interaction.

Home-grown protection
In just two weeks and using a home
kitchen, two bio-designers had enough
material to make a protective mask
created by Acetobacter xylinum bacteria effective in blocking exposure to
the coronavirus, and one that would
biodegrade when it was no longer used.
Photo: Elizabeth Bridges and Garrett
Benisch, Sum Studio.

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Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020

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Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - Cover2
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 1
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