The evoPOWER Vigor 1 was developed in partnership with Covestro and uses Pumas Accufoam technology

The evoPOWER Vigor 1 was developed in partnership with Covestro and uses Puma's Accufoam technology

A number of new smart fibre and fabric concepts were on show alongside eco-innovations for more sustainable clothing and footwear at last week's Texprocess and Techtextil trade shows in Frankfurt, Germany. Electro-osmotic membranes, eco-efficient textiles and recycled yarns were among the highlights.  

Reflective jeans and heatable E-soft-shell
Functional fabrics and performance textile specialist Schoeller Textil AG used the event to showcase its new water-repelling Schoeller-Shape Reflex fabrics, with metallic gloss effects and concealed reflective functions. Its denim with incorporated reflective yarn looks and feels like conventional denim, but offers a significant safety feature on the roads for a morning or evening commute.

Meanwhile, the company is also developing a heatable E-soft-shell material that can be cut to size as required and can be produced for sale by the metre. This innovative laminate is structured like a conventional soft-shell with Corkshell technology, which is made from a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified cork granulate that is a by-product in the production of wine corks and offers high thermal insulation coupled with breathability and comfort. The heatable backing is manufactured by Eschler, and incorporates conductive yarns for uniform heat distribution. The material can also be dyed and washed.

Electro-osmotic membrane
During the event, Swiss-Norwegian start-up Osmotex revealed it has signed a production agreement with Schoeller to commercialise an electro-osmotic membrane for moisture management in outerwear. First introduced at the ISPO sportswear show earlier this year, Hydro_Bot is designed to solve one of the biggest challenges in sports, work and protective clothing: transporting moisture at a rate that matches human sweating in various climates, conditions and activity levels. The agreement means Schoeller will market Hydro_Bot to its clients and enable Omotex to support new client projects with the technology. Meanwhile the first consumer product is planned with KJUS, an innovator in ski, golf and lifestyle wear, with Hydro_Bot appearing in selected skiwear products for the 2018/2019 season.

Lightweight and long-lasting yarns
New from Hyosung is a range of fine denier, high tenacity Mipan Robic nylon yarns to meet demand for lightweight but durable and long-lasting fabrics and garments. The new yarn family ranges from 7 to 15 denier and is said to offer 15-20% higher tenacity than regular nylon in the same deniers. The resulting fabrics have a higher tensile strength and abrasion resistance and are intended for outdoor apparel, workwear, bags and accessories.

Fabrics are also in development including new blends with Mipan Regen recycled nylon for higher tenacity plus eco-friendly benefits.

Yarns made from biopolymers
The latest developments from German polyester staple fibre and filament yarn maker Trevira include yarns made from Trevira include yarns made from biopolymers (PLA) for use in functional apparel, and a phosphorescent yarn that continues to glow in the dark up to seven hours after brief exposure to light.

Anti-mosquito fabrics
Spanish textile company StingBye presented new developments in its woven anti-mosquito fabrics. The Barcelona-based company applies permethrin, a protective barrier substance to its products, which range from T-shirts, trousers, socks and caps, to prevent insect bites. According to StingBye, its products have a durability of 100 washes and are odourless, with a 94% success rate. The company has also recently launched hair ties it claims guard against head lice. It says the hair lice protector has the same effectiveness as all StingBye garments and is made of 50% polyester and 50% cotton.

'Botanic shoe' concept
Austrian wood-based fibre producer Lenzing AG said it has been working on building a supply chain for its 'botanic shoe' which would see its Tencel branded lyocell fibres feature in all component parts. The company says its long-term goal is to launch a shoe in which almost all of the component parts are made with Tencel. The fibre is derived from wood pulp, is available as a fibre or in powder form and so can be used in inner and outer shoes, as an outer fabric, and in shoe laces and sewing thread.

Eco-efficient textiles
Invista's Cordura brand, in partnership with DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products' Susterra membranes and coatings, brought the first in a series of eco-innovations to Techtextil – with new sustainable textiles for apparel, footwear and gear that combine the long-lasting durability of Cordura fabrics with the plant-based Susterra materials.

Textile laminator Tiong Liong Industrial Co has developed some of the first composite textiles using the Susterra propanediol thermoplastic polyurethane membranes and Cordura EcoMade fabrics made with recycled polyester yarns as well as Tiong Liong's own Ariaprene foam. Ariaprene foam uses a certified Bluesign system water-based lamination process that is designed for non-skin irritation and does not off-gas harmful pollutants throughout the product lifecycle. 

Meanwhile, Everest, the first apparel fabric mill brought into this collaboration, highlighted how Cordura Naturalle fabrics incorporated with a polyurethane bio-based membrane containing more than 25% renewably sourced materials by weight are engineered to help keep the wearer dry and comfortable in all kinds of weather. According to the companies, the Susterra membrane demonstrates good hydrolysis resistance, excellent low temperature flexibility and elasticity, thus allowing the membranes to be incorporated with stretch fabrics for added mobility.

Yarn obtained from post-consumer recycled polymers
Polyamide filament and staple yarn, polyester continuous filament and polypropylene nonwovens were on show at Italian yarn maker RadiciGroup's Techtextil stand, with particular prominence given to the sustainable versions of these products. The company is the number two European polyester producer, and says it is focusing more and more on the production of yarn obtained from post-consumer recycled polymers (PET bottles), for which RadiciGroup can provide UNI 11505 certification attesting to the full traceability of the recycled material (r-Radyarn and r-Starlight). The company says it has "numerous on-going projects" in collaboration with leading names in the outdoor and sportswear industries aimed at achieving concrete sustainability for the entire value chain.

Phase-change spreader
Smart fabrics firm Outlast Technologies launched its Xelerate PCM and Heat spreader, designed to accelerate the performance of its regular phase change materials (PCM) by spreading heat more effectively over a larger area. According to the company, the melting and crystallisation process of the PCM can be more rapid, with thermal conductivity increasing by up to 30%.

Recycled core spun industrial sewing thread
Gütermann, which combined with sewing and embroidery thread major American & Efird (A&E) in 2014, presented its new recycled core spun industrial sewing thread using the Repreve recycled filament fibre. Working alongside US yarn maker Unifi, which turns plastic bottles into 100% recycled polyester fibre, Gütermann's new Perma Core using Repreve combines a recycled continuous filament polyester core and A&E's signature polyester staple wrap to produce what the company says is a high-quality, eco-friendly industrial sewing thread. According to A&E, the thread is extremely versatile and can be dyed, finished and delivered from any of its global manufacturing locations and is available across the company's global colour range.

Meanwhile, Gütermann also shared details of its Maraflex elastic thread, which is based on its Micro Core technology and designed for highly elastic seams, offering elasticity of more than 55%; Perma Core Ultimate, the thread for very fine seams; and Anefil Reflector, for reflective seams in a wide variety of apparel categories including sportswear, activewear, workwear or denim.

Smart clothing
Polymer company Covestro used the event to display sustainable and innovative applications including Puma's evoPOWER Vigor 1 football boot. The boot uses Puma's Accufoam technology which consists of three-dimensional, diamond shaped 'Topaz' dots. These dots are based on Insqin waterborne polyurethane technology from Covestro and give the shoe its unique design and playing features.

The company also demonstrated applications of Platilon thermoplastic poyuethane (TPU) high performance speciality films at its Techtextil stand. The flexible properties of Platilon are suitable for embedding electronics into smart clothing, says Covestro, as the films are resistant to standard etching and imaging processes, and show good adhesion to electrical circuits. Other highlights included an early sample of a digitally printed midsole adhesive and digitally printed shoe decoration.

Swiss fabric producer Forster Rohner showcased a range of 'e-textiles' that use industrial embroidery techniques to incorporate conductors, heating elements, sensors and even LED lights. Applications include medical, sports and lifestyle end-uses, but a key feature of them all is that the fabrics retain their look and feel and can be printed and washed.