The technical textiles industry is undergoing massive change. Not only are textiles themselves being entirely rethought, the process of producing said materials is being overhauled. A focus on sustainable alternatives to traditional textile production dominates the industry conversation.
Which materials are making waves as sustainable options for technically-challenging textile work?
Synthetic fibers are so much more than polyester. So-called “smart polymers” are today’s answer to the changing requirements of synthetic fibers, made from plastics and resins then spun into thin strands. Synthetic polymer fibers are sustainable when produced from recycled materials and they’re showing great promise in the fields of biomedical technology and even food packaging. As a textile, smart polymers can be imbued with substances designed to be released when exposed to external influences like pH and humidity. Hollow versions can also be outfitted with biosensors to measure the vital functions of the wearer, or even with pressure sensors that detect minute system changes.
- Carbon Fiber
Composed of carbon atoms, carbon fibers possess extremely high strength-to-weight ratios. When combined with plastic resins, carbon fibers become some of the highest performing sustainable textiles on the planet. Used in a variety of technical applications such as microelectrodes, high-conductivity situations, and prepregging, carbon fiber’s adoption is limited only by its cost. There is work underway, however, to decrease both the monetary cost and the environmental outlay of carbon fiber production. Fossil fuel-based feedstocks have been hypothesized to serve as viable synthesizers for carbon fibers, and study is underway.
- Glass Fibers
Glass fiber, particularly glass thread made from recycled glass materials, is an incredibly sustainable technical material. As a technical textile, glass fibers are lighter, stronger, and more insulative than most comparable materials, and are more variable in their applications. Like other tech fibers, glass thread can be layered with polymers to create composites that provide several layers of insulation. Glass fiber is currently transforming production processes in industries like marine, aerospace, and even sustainable energy production.
Technical textiles are an emerging industry with a lot of room for growth. We’ve yet to find a fully sustainable solution to textile manufacturing, particularly within the garment industry. As the idea of what constitutes a “textile” changes, so too does the technology.
B&W Fiberglass is your technical textile partner. Contact our team of forward-thinking innovators today to find out why glass is the future of fiber.