DISCOVER THE FABRICS OF TOMORROW WITH GERMAN INNOVATIONS CUT FROM A DIFFERENT CLOTH
Textile manufacturing is the second largest consumer goods industry in Germany, turning over €30bn annually. Around 50% of this output is in technical fabrics, so it comes as no surprise that the land of Vorsprung durch Technik is the European market leader in this sector.
Hi-tech fabrics have come a long way since the ‘80/90s craze for Hypercolor T-shirts. Hussein Chalayan sent video dresses down the catwalk in 2007, embedded with 15,600 colour-changing Swarovski crystal LEDs apiece, while Tommy Hilfiger’s SS15 Solar Jackets equipped with flexible, lightweight solar panels generate energy on the go. Levi’s too are in on the act with their Google Jacquard touch-sensitive denim, so that urban cyclists can control their mobile devices by the touch of a cuff button. Next thing you know we’ll be uploading the latest looks, or ‘softwear’, onto our nano-fibre garments.
Organic matter too has been incorporated into innovative fabrics: from cosmetic textiles infused with skin-soothing aloe vera by means of micro-encapsulation technology, to Uniqlo HeatTech thermals that (much to the chagrin of vegans) utilise milk proteins to help lock in heat – think of it like wool, also a protein. Microbes, mushrooms, algae and pineapples are also being transformed into bio-tech materials, particularly as sustainable alternatives to leather.
Zukunft denken or “thinking the future” is the motto of RWTH Aachen – Germany’s largest technical university – home to the award-winning Institute of Textile Technology (ITA). Looking to the fourth dimension, i.e. time, the ITA are pioneers in the field of self-evolving textiles. This in simple terms involve 3D printing microstructures on and into textiles, which react to environmental/external stimuli, such as a rise in temperature or humidity, and physically changes shape to acclimatise to these new conditions, without the help of additional machinery. Consider it a bit like skin that naturally sweats in response to heat or the other-worldly camouflaging skills of octopuses. The biohybrid 4D material is destined to revolutionise the construction sector, automobile and soft robotics industries, plus, Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak may not be so far out of reach.
Statex: Smart Silver Threads
Conductive, anti-static, sterilising and capable of blocking radio waves, silver has long been valued as a precious metal. Since 1978, Statex has spun silver threads into textiles for use in far ranging applications; for starters, you’ve probably sat on a heated car seat fitted out in the fabric. Antimicrobial, silver fibres are often found in water purification systems and dressings to help wounds heal faster. Clinically proven to reduce inflammation, its natural healing powers can also be harnessed in clothing to relieve skin conditions like eczema, and is a key component in textile sensors to measure heat, pressure, light and more. In the wider universe, Statex has provided electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding screens for NASA’s Mars Rover project – a technology similarly used to prevent electronic pickpocketing of contactless card data by rogue scanning devices – and in aircraft upholstery to stop buildup of static electricity that could cause technical disruptions. With this many unique qualities, you could believe that silver really does ward off vampires.
For personal heating solutions, look no further than Warm X. Silver-plated polyamide threads connected to a battery-powered thermostat are woven into thin, lightweight natural and synthetic textiles designed for undergarments. Heating the skin directly, the machine-washable fabric is perfect for outdoor activewear in colder climates, such as for skiing, hiking and horse riding, as well as targeted treatment for muscle pain. Not only hot to trot in, the antibacterial properties of silver eliminates odours, so you can feel free to break a sweat. Perhaps one day kinetic energy can be leveraged to power the mechanism, and with the addition of sensors, automatically regulate temperature according to the wearer’s body heat.
Kraftplex: Versatile Wooden Sheeting
Flexible yet stable and malleable like metal, Kraftplex’s innovative wooden sheeting is entirely made of cellulose from sustainably cultivated softwood. Manufactured using nothing but water, pressure and heat, the chemical-free material is environmentally sound and completely biodegradable. There’s little that can’t be done with the versatile sheeting, whether that’s laser and waterjet cutting, embossing through to deep drawing, adding colour with paints or covering in decor film, the natural alternative to plastic can be used in everything from accessories to architecture.
We’re very proud to have these exhibitors as part of our innovation showcase at Munich Fabric Start this year – so do come visit us if you’re at the fair and experience these amazing materials first hand!
Meet us at the Munich Fabric Start // 05 – 07 September 2017, Stand 21, Hall #5, Keyhouse.