In a double length feature Niki Tait reports from the recent Techtextil and Avantex exhibitions

Under the slogans 'Focusing on Innovation' and 'Face Your Visions - Discover the Future of Clothing,' the Techtextil and Avantex exhibitions and symposiums were held in tandem in Frankfurt earlier this month.

Techtextil is the world's biggest trade fair for technical textiles and nonwovens whilst Avantex shows developments and trends in the field of innovative garments with special supplementary benefits. In the combined show 1,159 exhibitors from 47 countries presented their latest products, developments and trends from the fields of technical, innovative garment, and intelligent textiles. With around 22,656 visitors from 70 countries, the accompanying symposiums attracted 1,026 participants from home and abroad.

By focussing on innovations in high tech apparel textiles, Avantex points clothing manufacturers to the way forward towards new industry horizons particularly focusing on the fusion of traditional textile sectors with the microsystems and electronics industry. "Smart textiles", for example, make use of integrated or applied electronics (e.g. sensors), whereas "intelligent textiles" produce predictable effects by interacting with the environment and the wearer. By combining this show with Techtextil, the clothing producer can widen their search for new innovations through fibres, yarns, coatings, fabrics, nanotechnology and the entire textile chain.

Although there was an amount of technology to cut and make up these innovations, this was limited and most will be on show at the next IMB taking place at Koeln Messe 10th-13th May 2006. IMB 2006 is the largest world fair for apparel production technology & textile processing. The show profile includes machines, plants, processes, services and accessories for the clothing industry and the making-up of textiles. Product sectors include sewing, cutting, product preparation, making-up of technical textiles, logistics, transportation, services, EDP, quality management and media. The next Techtextil and Avantex trade fairs in Frankfurt will be held from 12 to 14 June 2007.

The Avantex Innovative Prize 2005
Designed to draw attention to the latest developments, promote unconventional thinking and intensify the dialogue between research, manufacturing and application, the Avantex Innovative Prize 2005 was awarded to four projects.

Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs) are the ultimate textile fibre: fine (~1 nm), strong (~35 GPa), light (density ~1300 kg/m), high specific strength (750N/tex), electrically and thermally conductive (~10kS/cm and 2000 Wm-1K-1 respectively); no other fibre available at present has such an interesting combination of properties. However it has proved very difficult to exploit these properties due to the short lengths of the CNTs, which are typically less than 300 m. Although polymers can be used to make CNT composites this has the disadvantage of significantly reducing the electrical conductivity. Using existing spinning technology, the NanoTech Institute, University of Texas at Dallas have developed a method of directly combining the CNTs into fibres by twisting them together to form a yarn, just as with conventional staple fibres such as wool, cotton, and nylon, resulting in pure CNT yarns with a diameter of between 1 and 10 µm, with a high specific resistance, good stretch characteristics and high levels of energy absorption. They are particularly well suited for use in areas where protection is needed whilst the high electrical conductivity offers opportunities for applications in the field of electronics such as wearable computing and sensor technology.

Motorcycling-wear makes great demands on fit and the freedom of movement. The extreme bowed body-posture requires a lot of additional length for the back and the bottom. But this adversely affects the fit when not sitting on the motorcycle. The concept of the plated armadillo's shell has been adapted into design by the German University of Applied Sciences. Using the functional fabric Schoeller Dynatec, the interpretation of the armadillo's shell is a structure of curved pleats, placed in the back, bottom, and knee zones. The pleats open or close according to the body posture enabling the outfit to adapt to fit and comfort in each situation, the layering plates making possible high flexibility and protection. Reflecting ribbon from 3M Scotchlite provides high visibility. The same university has developed a suit for female motor cyclists, which is not only particularly suited to the size and shape of female riders but also distinguishes itself in fashion terms from the unisex suits.

Source Messe Frankfurt Exhibition Gmbh byHelmut Stettin

Every year about 500 apparently healthy infants die in Germany of Sudden Infants Death Syndrome but the reasons are still unclear. It often happens during sleep affecting infants up to the age of 12 month. Researchers at ITV Denkendorf have developed a cost-efficient preventive monitoring device that provides an alarm for life threatening situations with a minimum on technical and nursing effort. Sensors are integrated in standard baby vests controlling heart rate, respiration, temperature and humidity without disturbing the infant. Connected to a computer the measurements are permanently compared with preset thresholds. The sensor technology used operates without high frequency alternating fields and with very low energy requirements in the µ-ampère range. Whilst worn, the body can be washed and have nappies changed normally.

As part of an EU-project Smartex / Millor SpA have developed, through the WEALTHY (Wearable Health Care System) project, a system which can assist patients during rehabilitation, elderly people, athletes or subjects working in extreme stressful environment conditions to ensure continuous intelligent health monitoring of their vital signs. A cost-effective, non-invasive and wearable system based on wearable and wireless-instrumented garments, which include "smart" sensors is able to detect user-specific physiological signals is combined with an intelligent system for data representation and alert functions able to create intelligent patient feedback and deliver appropriate information to a target professional. Electronic devices for transmitting the signals by means of GPRS using the standard GSM network allow usage of the sensing garment "anywhere" - at home, at work, at the hospital/rehabilitation centre as well as away from a local base station using advanced telecommunication protocols and services such as Bluetooth for short range.

New technical fibres, fabrics and finishes.
Other key developments shown at Avantex included many new technical fibres, fabrics and finishes.

Available through The Speciality Group of Australia a new outdoor clothing fabric has been created by laminating a waterproof, breathable, windproof membrane between two layers of extra fine Australian Merino wool. This is the world's first energy conscious natural fleece blend designed to reduce gas emissions by using naturally occurring fibre such as wool instead of man made fibres.

Greuter-Jersey has created a revolutionary jersey on the first machine in the world with a 50-spacing: 'dimension50'. This extremely light, super soft and highly elastic innovation offers completely new possibilities particularly to manufacturers of high-quality, corsetry and bodywear. The extremely fine mesh structure renders a high level of functionality, is soft, light and always perfectly in shape. Dimension50 also sets new standards in 'microtouch' and optical appearance with a homogenous surface and structures that are hardly visible.

Spoerry & Co AG have developed 'Spoerry Sensual', the world's finest elastic cotton with a fineness of Nm 250. 1 kilogram has a length of 250 kilometer and is ideally suitable for use in the hosiery, tights and leotard area as well as for the production of high-quality underwear, shirts and blouses. The Lycra is the core whilst the cotton edge fibres are practically completely integrated into the outer structure. The result is low hairing of the yarn, unique fineness, comfort and elasticity, all features greatly valued by producers of high-quality underwear.

The use of silver for its medical and therapeutic benefits dates back thousands of years, certainly to Roman times, indeed today it is concidered the most effective antimicrobial agent. The X-Static fibre by Noble Fibre Technologies of the USA has a layer of pure silver permanently bonded to the surface of a textile fibre, retaining the base fibres characteristics but adding antimicrobial, anti-odour, heat transfer, anti-static, anti-allergic and therapeutic properties whilst being safe and non toxic . The coated fibre can be used either as a filament or spun yarn, in knits, weaves and non-woven materials. As the silver is irreversibly bound to a polymer it becomes a physical part of the fibre and is therefore permanent and cannot be washed away. X-Static claims to eliminate 99.9% of the bacteria in less than one hour of exposure, whilst the hotter and wetter the environment, the more effective X-Static becomes.

Silver is thermally conductive, has a very low emissity rating and an infrared reflectivity of greater than 95% meaning that X-Static will keep the wearer warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It also has the highest electrical conductively rating of any element and can dissipate triboelectric charges resulting in static free comfortable products. This conductivity also has many therapeutic benefits as when electricity passes through a medium a magnetic field it creates increased blood flow and reduced swelling. Thomson Research Associates is also using silver in its antibacterial treatment Ultra-Fresh Silpure.

With a claimed 99.9999% electromagnetic radiation shielding efficiency, the new interlining xShield from Kufner is 30% lighter than any comparable product, has a soft handle and has no impact on the behaviour of the ready made garment. Electromagnetic pollution is caused by cell phones, antennas, computers and even white goods and the arising problems include health problems, antistatic discharge and technical disfunctions.

Outlast Technology PCM was originally designed for use in NASA astronauts suits

Phase change Materials (PCM) were originally developed for NASA to protect astronauts from the extreme temperature fluctuations in space and today Outlast Technologies Inc. is the pioneer of this technology. Within phase change materials two well-known technologies are successfully combined. Firstly micro-encapsulation where the capsules are very tiny, around 1,000 fit on the head of a pin (ie 3 million per square cm). Inside the patented microcapsules, called Outlast Thermocules, substances similar to paraffin are stored, which are capable of phase change, ie the change of state from solid through liquid to gas and vice versa. For example water becomes ice or vapour when energy is added or taken away. PCM technology uses this same law of physics. Outlast materials absorb excess body heat when too much is created and release it again to the body when needed having the welcomed side effects that temperature is balanced actively and dynamically and sweating is dramatically reduced. Depending on the application there are three different methods of applying the microcapsules, inside fibre, as a coating on textiles or in foams. The American Space Foundation (a non profit organization linked to NASA), has awarded Outlast the prestigious seal of approval "Certified Space Technology". Worldwide there are only thirty four companies (among them weather satellites or heating systems) who have received this award, and Outlast Adaptive Comfort is the only textile application. Outlast received approval for the way in which its space technology enhances the lives of citizens here on Earth.

Most breathable and waterproof fabrics are made by bonding and laminating special coatings. Space Tec by John Heathcoat & Co Ltd is different. It is a high-tec spacer fabric with one piece structure with different properties incorporated into it enabling variable thickness and compression, rigid or conformable construction with varying degrees of open or closed knit with waterproofing on one or both sides and can be made from differing yarn types and combinations enabling its use in products as variable as fashion garments to aviation. It is not a multi-layered fabric and thus cannot delaminate.

Paiho Nano BambooCharcoalTechnology

Several companies are now promoting the use of bamboo charcoal as the basis of coatings and fibres using its natural properties of warmth, odour reduction, 90% emissivity of far infrared rays, improvement of blood circulation, release of negative ion and no radiation pollution. Far infrared ray can make water molecule vibrate with each other and help it go through cell wall, increase oxygen in the blood, activate cells, improve blood circulation and physical environment. Bamboo charcoal textiles can keep body warm since it can raise the temperature more than 10 degrees centigrade. The charcoal has a dense structure, large specific gravity, lots of pores and abundant minerals. It can absorb and decompose hazardous materials in the air such as sulphide, nitrous compound, methanol, benzene, phenol, trichloriomethane, etc. The Paiho Group, for example, use four year old bamboo. After drying the bamboo in the shade to eliminate its 15-18% water content it is carbonised in a traditional kiln for about ten days at 800 degrees Centigrade to turn it into Bamboo Charcoal, which has compact charcoal molecules and abundant minerals. After nano-grinding and biochemical spinning the resulting yarn can be used to make various kinds of product from underwear to outerwear. The resulting textiles can be washed by any method without the functions of the yarn being affected.

The earth's fossil fuel resources are limited. If consumption continues at its present level, mankind is expected to exhaust the earth's supply of oil before the end of this century. Developing alternative resources that will eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels and using recyclable resources that prevent any further increase of CO2 concentration in the air are therefore pressing tasks for industry, in order to protect the global environment and save our precious resources. As a result, movement away from petrochemicals has been accelerating worldwide, with efforts focused on research into plant-based recyclable resources. Among these efforts, Toray are achieving commercial success with its new Polylactic acid fibre, a bio-based material made from plants. Polylactic acid is produced by fermenting the starch in plants such as corn and sugar cane to make lactic acid, which is then polymerized. The resulting Polylactic acid resin is then spun into a fibre to create Toray's Ingeo fibre, a breakthrough technology man-made fibre created from natural resources.
Mectex SpA has developed a range of nanotechnolgy finishes called "Wonderful Life" aimed at the wellbeing of the wearer. It has been proved that exposure to small negative ions causes a sense of general wellness as it helps the body to reach a natural stability; some of the claimed benefits include a lower predisposition to colds and flues, improvement in sleep, meditation and relaxation, increase of lung capacity, relief from allergies, increased absorption of Vitamins B and C, relief from migraine, respiratory tracks and nose disorders, stress, etc. Mectex's Ionotherapy is a special finishing treatment which enables fabric to release negative ions by degrees during the use, causing sensations of relaxation and wellness.

Aromatherapy is an ancient art of curing using essential oils. Mectex's application of perfumed essences on textiles is not therapeutical but causes a wellness feeling when the treated fabric is touched. The micro-capsules are fixed on the fabric and after they break by rubbing they gradually release the fragrance over a long period of time. The "Aroma" series consists of different perfumed fragrances including lavender, lemon, rose, strawberry, vanilla ,orange, wild flowers, forest, lime and mint. Other treatments in the range include an anti-smell finish and a treatment made up of Aloe Vera and Chitosano.

Schoeller rextil NanoSphere self cleaning technology

Schoeller Textil AG has received the European Outdoor Award 2004-5 for its NanoSphere naturally cleaning finishing technology. Taking the technology from the natural ability of certain plants surface structures which prevents dirt adhering to their surface, natural and synthetic fibres are coated with silicone-based nanoparticles which are firmly adhered into a coating matrix which repel stains, oil and water, are permanent to washing whilst the fabrics natural breathability, feel and appearance remain very natural. Stains just rinse off: water, ketchup, honey, coffee, red wine and grease simply slide off the surface, and if they do not run off themselves they can be simply rinsed off with a little water. Schoeller have also developed 3XDry, a multi-functional high-tech finish which repels moisture on the outside, transports moisture quickly from the inside to the outside, is highly breathable, less susceptible to soiling and dries very fast whilst containing the anti-bacterial effect of 'Fresh Plus' which prevents the development of bacteria and unpleasant odours. 3XDRY is used primarily for business wear, sportswear, leisurewear and workwear by such manufacturers as Alberto, Brax, Dockers, Globus, Daniel Hechter, Mammut, Timberland, Vaude or workfashion.com. The technology is currently being applied in Switzerland, Turkey, India, China and Taiwan. Announced at the exhibition was the announcement of Schoeller Technologies AG and Ciba Specialty Chemicals AG cooperation in the areas of branding, marketing, support and sales for 3XDRY.