An Overview of Novel Textiles


Md Shadman Shakil

Novel textiles, sometimes called sophisticated or smart textiles, are a fascinating area of creativity at the nexus of technology and textiles. Beyond the conventional uses of textiles for apparel and adornment, some fabrics are created to have distinctive qualities and capabilities. Novel textiles are expanding the capabilities of textiles and transforming a variety of industries, including fashion, healthcare, activities such as sports, and more. They do this by merging numerous technologies, resources, and manufacturing techniques. The capacity of innovative textiles to engage with their surroundings and react to outside stimuli is one of their distinctive features.

Image Courtesy: Allied Market Research

To detect and monitor things like pressure, temperature, moisture, and biometric information from the wearer, they can include actuators, sensors, and embedded electronics. As a result, applications like temperature-regulating materials, self-cleaning clothing, and even clothing that monitors the individual’s vital signs have been made possible. Novel textiles also frequently have increased functionality, like better comfort, breathability, and durability. They can be created to repel water, resist flames, or have antibacterial qualities. Additionally, certain fabrics may provide particular performance advantages, such as draining away perspiration for sportswear or protection for industrial uses. Innovative manufacturing processes and cutting-edge materials are combined to create unique fabrics. An important part is played by nanotechnology, which makes it possible to create nanofibers and nanocoating that improve the characteristics of textiles.

Additionally, complex and personalized textile constructions are being produced via 3D printing. Besides, the development of ecologically responsible textile solutions is made possible by the growing popularity of environmentally friendly and sustainable materials. Novel fabrics have a plethora of different uses. The possibility of incorporating lighting, color-changing materials, including shape-shifting technologies into their designs is being investigated by fashion designers. Smart textiles may be utilized in the healthcare industry to monitor patients, dispense medications, or offer therapeutic advantages. Wearable materials that improve efficiency and help in injury prevention can be advantageous for sports enthusiasts. Advanced textiles are used in industrial sectors for reinforcement materials, filtration systems, and protective garments.

Image Courtesy: Textile Value Chain

Smart Textile: Smart textiles or materials are defined as materials or structures that have senses or can sense conditions in the environment or triggers, whereas intelligent textiles are defined as textile components that not only have feelings but also can adapt and react to exterior conditions or stimuli. Both the stimuli and the reaction could come from different sources and could be thermal, mechanical, chemical, electrical, or magnetic. In the medical, fitness and sports, military, clothing, aerospace, automotive, built environment, and power industries, Smart textiles’ sensing/ responding/ adapting, versatility, low energy, small weight and dimension, ease of forming, and low-cost features have a wide range of applications. These precious novel materials result from interdisciplinary research and development that advances engineering and material science, improves the quality of life, and protects the environment. The concentrated special issue “Novel Smart Textiles” presents the most recent findings in this area and promotes communication, networking, and the purpose of discussion and debate.

Image Courtesy: MDPI

By 2025, the market for smart textiles will be worth more than USD 5.55 billion, with the medical and well-being industries serving as significant growth drivers. This market size indicates the significance of intelligent textiles. In the following five years, the wearable sensor-based telemedicine component is anticipated to increase at a pace greater than 50% Compound annual growth rate. The development of “E-textiles”—intelligent, flexible connected systems able to perform sensing, actuation, and wireless communication in the form of intelligent, technologically advanced fabrics and wearable garments—offers opportunities provided by manipulating textile components down to the nanoscale to develop new “smart” adaptive/active functionality, and research into these opportunities is growing for particular applications. Creating these systems involves a sophisticated combination of interdisciplinary issues in manufacturing, control methods, hierarchical integration, and material design.

Functional Textiles: Functional clothing, which crosses traditional limits and combines with computing, physics, biotechnology, and nanotechnology, among others, represents the market’s evolutionary segment for technical textiles. It does this to satisfy the user’s complex and varied needs. By definition, functional clothing is created with the user’s performance needs in mind and is engineered to meet those needs in challenging environments. Even though little information is accessible on the principles used in their production, a range of functional fashion items are offered on the market for safety clothing, medicinal clothing, or sports apparel.

Image Courtesy: MDPI

Unlike technical textiles, functional clothing has never been defined or organized systematically. A functionality-based taxonomy with six classes has been invented, spanning all of the logical categories of available clothing which are already in use or being developed. Even though the finished goods may find help in various fields, every individual class would have similar design principles governing it. For instance, protective functional clothing is likely to be used as protective military armor, protective sports armor, or protective surgical clothes for doctors. Each class has distinctive characteristics that set it apart from the others. As more advanced technologies are created, fresh, cutting-edge goods—possibly even new types—will continue to come out in this market to satisfy consumer demands.

Technical Textiles: One of the textile industries with the fastest growth has been technical textiles. The quick industrialization and expansion of every single sector have greatly aided the development of this industry. A textile material has some distinctive qualities, such as solid strength and flexibility, that make it valuable in other industries. As a result, the use of textile materials in numerous industries has dramatically increased over time. The transdisciplinary field of technical textiles focuses on creating textile products primarily for technical end uses rather than more common aesthetic ones. It is clear from the term that technical rather than aesthetic considerations are given more weight when discussing textile materials and applications.

Consider polyester fiber as an example to understand technical textiles better. Polyester is frequently combined with cotton, wool, and other fibers to make clothing less expensive. Now that the polyester has wicking, UV resistance, and electrostatic charge capabilities as well as the ability to be made into nonwoven fabrics (spun-bonded, melt-blown, and SMS fabrics) with filtering properties, polyester fiber may be employed for technical uses as well. The above example explains the fragile line separating technical textiles from smart textiles. Specific

intrinsic characteristics of polyester fiber make it suitable for technical services. Polyester, however, has a unique functioning that responds to environmental cues. Similar to how fibers such as cotton, silk, viscose, linen, and wool are frequently used for clothing, they are also used for specific technical purposes because of their intrinsic qualities. Agrotech, Mobitech, Sporttech, Clothtech, Buildtech, Geotech, Hometech, Indutech, Meditech, Packtech, Protech, and Oekotech are the 12 categories of technological textiles. The specifications of these 12 sectors are explicitly used in the design of the textile materials.

Fundamental Differences among Technical Textiles, Functional Apparel, and Smart Textiles: Within the broader spectrum of cutting-edge and innovative textile solutions, technical textiles, functional clothing items, and smart textiles are separate categories. Each category has several unique traits and applications, despite certain similarities. Here are their main distinctions from one another:

Technical Textiles: Rather than being created for aesthetics, technical materials are designed with precise technical performance in mind. They are frequently employed in commercial and industrial environments where their functional characteristics are crucial. The main goals of technical textiles are to improve utility, performance, and durability. Examples comprise:

  • Geotextiles: Used in civil engineering and construction for drainage, soil stabilization, and erosion prevention.
  • Protective textiles: These materials shield users from dangers like chemicals, heat, and ballistic impact.
  • Industrial textiles: It is used in automobiles for insulation, upholstery, seat belts, and airbags.
  • Agrotextiles: Agricultural textiles are materials applied to agriculture for purposes like protecting crops, shade nets, and erosion prevention.

Functional Apparel: Clothing with unique valuable features to improve the wearer’s comfort and performance is referred to as available apparel. These clothes frequently use cutting-edge materials and construction methods and are made to fit particular needs or activities. Although it can also refer to specific workwear and medical garments, functional clothing is typically connected with athletics and outdoor activities. Examples comprise:

  • Moisture-wicking sportswear: Sportswear made of moisture-wicking materials wicks sweat out of the skin while the wearer exercises, keeping them dry and comfortable.
  • Compression clothing: Designed to provide pressure to the muscles and provide support for better performance, less tiredness, and quicker recovery.
  • Waterproof and Breathable Outerwear: Clothing that allows moisture vapor to escape while keeping water from penetrating is known as a breathable and waterproof outfit.

Smart Textiles: Smart textiles, sometimes called e-textiles or technical textiles, incorporate electrical components and technology to offer extra functionality above and beyond standard fabrics. These fabrics can sense, act with, and react to environmental stimuli. Embedded electronics, conductive materials, and sensors are frequently used in them. Several sectors, including clothing, healthcare, and sports, can benefit from using innovative fabrics. Some instances are:

  • Wearable health monitors: Wearable health monitors are textiles with sensors to track vital signs, including blood pressure, body temperature, and breathing.
  • Luminescent textiles: Textiles that may emit light or modify color because they have incorporated lighting components are known as luminescent textiles.
  • Heating textiles: Textiles designed to produce heat, either internally or externally, such as those made of conductive materials for use in cold climates.

Conclusion: To sum up, novel textiles are a significant development in the textile industry that combines technology, functionality, and invention to produce materials with distinctive qualities and abilities. Beyond their conventional use, these fabrics promise to revolutionize several sectors, including clothing, healthcare, sports, and more. Technical textiles, practical clothing, and smart textiles are only a few examples of the subcategories that make up novel textiles. In general, innovative textiles have a wide range of uses. Designers in the fashion industry are looking into the potential for incorporating lighting, color-changing materials, and shape-shifting substances into their pieces. Innovative textiles can be utilized in the healthcare industry to monitor patients, dispense medications, or offer therapeutic advantages. Wearable textiles for sports fans can improve performance and help prevent injuries, and commercial sectors are utilizing sophisticated textiles for reinforcement materials, filtration systems, and protective equipment. Novel textiles offer the potential to change how we relate to fabrics and the capabilities we anticipate from them as development and research in this area continue to advance. They present tremendous opportunities for innovation, serving a variety of demands across industries and offering a future with more technology integration.