Specialty Fabrics Review August 2022 - 44

[ MARKETS ] ADVANCED TEXTILES
 Flexible TPU printing
materials from Covestro's
Addigy brand are making 3D
printed fashion more wearable.
Photo: Covestro AG
W
Defining " textiles "
New materials are challenging
our traditional concepts.
by Debra Cobb
HEN IS A MATERIAL A TEXTILE? WHEN IS A
textile a fabric? The unprecedented scope of new
materials in development-by academia, governmentfunded
technology groups and start-ups-is challenging traditional
concepts of fabric formation. How this will impact the larger
industry is a useful question to consider.
E-textiles are progressing from " devices " mounted on a fabric
structure, to semiconductors that are fully integrated into fibers.
Sustainability is driving a wave of bio-based " grown " textiles,
advances in paper-like nonwovens that biodegrade, and wearable
films and synthetic skins. Inventive software is helping to create
3D-printed textiles, new architectural materials and digital textiles
for the metaverse.
All fabrics are textiles, but it may be said that not all textiles
are fabrics. Some of the new materials will not be viable, much less
have broad commercial appeal. Some, however, have the potential
to change the textile industry as we know it.
A platform for innovation
" A lot of the excitement in textiles is transitioning to high-tech
products, " says Michael Rein, senior technical program manager
at Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA). " For the
textile industry to be viable in the U.S., all stakeholders should
consider innovation. "
An early breakthrough at AFFOA was the embedding of semiconductor
devices into fibers, which could then be made into
wearable, washable e-textiles; it continues to lead the industry in
the development of functional fabrics. " The definition of fabric is
not changing so much as evolving to present more options, " Rein
continues. " Fabrics are defined by the way we use them. It can be
as simple as adding functionality or responsive technologies. "
44 SPECIALTY FABRICS REVIEW / August 2022

Specialty Fabrics Review August 2022

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