Microencapsulation technology is also being used to create garments with built-in temperature control systems. Phase change materials or PCM’s were originally developed for NASA to protect astronauts against temperature fluctuations ranging from bitter cold to scorching heat. Now, the regular person can enjoy the same protection.The concept is based on the endothermic/exothermic transitions. When ice melts heat is absorbed from the environment endothermic transition). When liquids solidify, heat is given off (exothermic transition). Phase change materials are capable of storing and releasing large amounts of energy. Microencapsulated PCM’s can be applied to the fabric or garment. The PCM stores the body’s excess heat as it’s created and releases it as it’s needed.
Odor control is a hot topic in the apparel and hosiery arenas. Odor can be controlled by applying an antimicrobial finish, removing the odor molecules as they are formed or covering up the odor with a fragrance. Odors are formed as a result of bacterial growth. An antimicrobial finish can be applied to the fabric to prevent bacterial growth—ultimately eliminating the odor. Cyclodextrins can be incorporated into a fabric finish to remove odor. Cyclodextrins have a unique molecular structure, composed of a hydrophobic cavity, with a hydrophilic exterior. The odor molecules being hydrophobic become trapped in the cavities of the cyclodextrins and are removed during laundering.Microencapsulation technology can be used to cover up odors with fragrances. Microcapsules containing fragrances can be applied to the fabric to provide a slow release over time.
Stain resistant finishes are no longer considered a niche market. Consumers not only want their work wear to perform, but their casual and evening wear as well. Studies have shown that consumers are willing to pay extra for stain resistant apparel.New technological advances have made the heavy stain-resistant coatings of the 1960’s a thing of the past.Traditionally, fluorochemicals have been used to impart stain resistant characteristics to the textile. Fluorochemicals are the only chemicals capable of repelling water, oil and other liquids that cause stains. Fabrics finished with fluorochemicals have nonstick properties. Unfortunately, fluorochemicals can have adverse effects on the environment
and on human and animal health. This has led to the investigation of new stain-resistant finishes.
Using nanotechnology, unique and permanent stain resistant finishes are being developed. Nanotechnology is defined as the precise manipulation of individual atoms and molecules to create layered structures. Nanosize particles can exhibit unexpected properties— different from those of the bulk material. The basic premise is that properties can dramatically change when a substance’s size is reduced to the nanometer range. For example, ceramics which are normally brittle can be deformable when their size is reduced. In bulk form, gold is inert, however, once broken down into small clusters of atoms it becomes highly reactive.
Coolest Comfort is now being applied to resin-treated cotton. Resins are used to make cotton wrinkle free, unfortunately, the resin treatment also blocks cotton’s natural ability to absorb moisture. Coolest Comfort can be formulated to restore the natural wicking properties of resin-treated cotton.Resists Static is the first permanent anti-static treatment for synthetic fibers. Not only does it repel static but also repels statically attractive substances such as dog hair, lint, and dust. Resists Static can be applied to a variety of fabric constructions including fleece and suit linings.