Smart Textiles and Intelligent Textiles
Smart textiles are textiles that can sense and react to environmental conditions or stimuli from mechanical, thermal, chemical, electrical, or magnetic sources. Smart textiles may combine fabrics with glass, ceramics, metal, or carbon to produce lightweight hybrids with incredible properties. Sophisticated finishes, such as silicone coatings and holographic laminates, transform color, texture, and even form.
Innovations in Smart Textiles
Laser-printed waterproof and stretchable e-textiles
The next generation of waterproof smart fabrics will be laser printed and made in minutes. That is the future imagined by the researchers behind new e-textile technology. Scientists from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have developed a cost-efficient and scalable method for rapidly fabricating textiles that are embedded with energy storage devices.
In just 3 min, the method can produce a 10 × 10 cm smart textile patch that is waterproof, stretchable, and readily integrated with energy harvesting technologies. The technology enables graphene supercapacitors—powerful and long-lasting energy storage devices that are easily combined with solar or other sources of power—to be laser printed directly onto textiles.
A conductive textile can be defined as a fabric which is made from the strands of a metal that are woven, blended, or coated during the creation of the textile. Conductive metals such as silver, titanium, gold, nickel, and carbon are utilized by the textile. Conductive textiles inhabit the property that it can conduct electricity and thus is used in several applications by different end-use industries. The primary function of the conductive textile is controlling the static electricity and protecting from the electromagnetic interference. Based on type, the woven textile segment has significant growth during the forecast period.
Woven textiles are widely utilized by various end-use industries such as military and defense, healthcare, and sports and fitness. As these textiles offer high standard performance in shielding and conductivity, they are considered to be the preferred type of conductive textiles utilized across the globe, thereby boosting the growth of the woven textile segment.
Medical smart textile as a cardiac supporting device
Knitted and woven fabrics are being used as a cardiac supporting device. An innovative medical device has been made by using the knitted and woven fabrics, which corrects the life-threatening conditions of the heart and vascular system. Implantation of the new devices requires less invasive surgical procedures and involves less risk than traditional procedures, while also causing fewer complications in hospital days.
Heart failure is a chronic syndrome that occurs when the heart is not getting enough amount of blood. Generally, valve leakage is reliable for this. The treatment of heart failure is only the drug therapies and surgical, but they are temporary treatment. The only permanent treatment is a heart transplant. But most of the patients cannot qualify for heart transplantation. So they have to do the surgical treatment or drug therapy.
So the scientists have developed a device named as a cardiac support device (CSD), which is intended to halt the progression of heart failure. The cardiac support device (CSD) research was conducted to determine the best material, yarn configuration, knit pattern, and processing to use to produce CSD fabric. It is a mesh-like warp knitted fabric. The fabric is fabricated from the multifilament texture.
Polyester fabric is used for it. Polyester fabric has biological tissue response and it has the compatibility for the epicardial surface of the heart. The polyester yarns are warp knitted into a mesh configuration using a variation of an atlas stitch. After knitting, the fabric is conditioned to ease its handling during the processing to manufacture the CSD.
Smart clothing with improved comfort and safety for firefighters
Temperature is a major challenge in numerous professions—thermal comfort and occupational safety. For example, in emergency missions of fire and rescue services as well as in mines and construction sites, the working conditions often cause extreme physical strain.
Working in hot situations without wearing appropriate protective clothing and equipment often causes high heat stress. It will be perfect if the amount of such stress could be monitored in real time during the performance of different work tasks. To solve this, researchers and companies together developed a wearable technology solution for firefighters. It allows the real-time monitoring of heat stress, thus improving the occupational health and safety in challenging temperatures.
The new method has been tested at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Oulu and at the Emergency Services College in Kuopio. Based on the first tests, it would seem to offer a very promising tool for commanding rescue missions and enhancing the occupational health and safety of firefighters.
Graphene-based smart textiles
Graphene has already made a huge blast in the next step of wearable technology. Due to the thermal conductive properties of graphene, the warmth produced by the human body is preserved and distributed evenly in cold climates and allows an even body temperature during physical activity.
A renowned company Directa Plus, a producer and supplier of graphene-based products, teamed up with Colmar, the high-end sportswear company, has launched a new collection of SKI jackets containing graphene-based products. The new technology SKI jacket contains graphene Plus (G+) and is worn by the French national SKI team for multiple successful tournaments. It was explained that the key benefit of incorporating G+ is that it enables the fabric to act as a filter between the body and the external environment, ensuring the ideal temperature for the wearer.
A Chinese company called Shanghai Kyorene New Material Technology has also developed a graphene fiber that has been used to produce clothes, sportswear, and underwear products.
Recently, researchers have designed a low-cost, sustainable, and environmentally friendly method for making conductive cotton fabrics using graphene. These fabrics could lead to smart textiles and interactive clothes that will find applications in healthcare, wearable, and more. Functionalization of these conductive cotton fabrics was done by thermal reduction of graphene oxide (GO) adsorbed on cotton. Besides, researchers have created two ways to apply thin graphene sheets that either make the fabric super-hydrophobic or super-hydrophilic.
A team of scientists in Korea also announced the successful development of a technology to make a washable, flexible, and highly sensitive textile-type gas sensor. This technology is based on coating graphene using molecular adhesives to fiber like nylon, cotton, or polyester so that the fabric can check whether or not gas exists in the air.
Graphene has also strong cytotoxicity toward bacteria. So, this can be highlighted for maternity clothes to create coatings that prevent the growth of bacteria on the surface of the fabrics, thus protecting the pregnant against the possible diseases transmitted by bacteria. This type of protection will be very useful in gynecologists, nurses, and midwives clothing who assist the birthing woman in order to avoid the spreading of bacterial infections in newborns.
Smart denim jacket
The smart denim jacket designed by Levi’s turns a portion of the fabric on the sleeve into a touch-sensitive remote control for phones to be helpful in everyday life. This is a second version of their Jacquard smart jacket first introduced in 2017. The iconic jacket merges style with innovative Jacquard technology and allows the wearer to answer calls, play music, and take photos right from the sleeve. With the Jacquard technology, the jacket lets you access digital services right from your cuff, wherever you go. Get updates about your day, take a remote selfie, get notified if you leave your phone or jacket behind, and more, so you can stay focused on what is important.
The technology allows to use touch gestures, like swiping and tapping, on the left cuff of the jacket to issue commands. The new and improved Jacquard Tag wirelessly connects your Trucker jacket to your smartphone. Jacquard also provides you helpful alerts, like when you have left your phone behind, using lights on the Tag and vibrations in the cuff to get your attention.
Smart film fabric
DuPont Intexar is a revolutionary electronic ink and film that seamlessly transforms fabric into smart clothing for multiple applications. The technology is embedded directly onto fabric using standard apparel manufacturing processes, offering both ease of integration and ease of design. It is currently leveraged for three applications: fitness, heat, and shealth.
The technology for fitness and health function similarly with key components that monitor and transmit biometric signals. A thin layer of carbon or silver serves as a sensor, sensing electrical signals, while a conductor, made of a layer of silver, transmits currents throughout. Other films are integrated onto the textiles to shield the technology from water and additional exposure. The data received is captured and monitored via a third-party app. The heat application utilizes a battery-powered technology that includes a resistor, a thin layer of carbon that radiates heat, a conductor, a thin layer of silver that transmits the electrical currents, and additional films for protection.
Intexar is engineered and tested to perform as designed each and every time, with durability to outlast any alternative and offer unmatched comfort with its seamless stretchability. Intexar also offers a powered heating solution in a thin and safe application. The battery-operated technology enables clothing to generate heat, creating actively controlled on-body warming. This technology is particularly well-suited for outdoor activity and industry professionals within the utility, construction, military, forestry, mining, and infrastructure industries, among others. This technology also delivers advanced wearable health care through the sense and transmission of biometric signals. Primary uses include monitoring of pregnancy, telemetry and respiratory disorders as well as heat and electro-stimulation therapies.