Top 10 technical fabric innovations

mushroom_materialsCourtesy of FabricLink comes word of their annual pick of top textile innovations for 2013-2014. Sure, we’ve all heard of textile prototypes in a lab but all too frequently, the fabrics never get out of beta. All of these have and are ready for sale. Here are the ones that I’ve been keeping an eye on:

From dirt to shirt, CRAiLAR® is a linen fabric that requires less water and chemicals in at least two ways. First it uses less pesticides and fertilizers in growing, and second, the fibers are processed into thread with a proprietary enzymatic process. Moreover, it is virtually indistinguishable from cotton (yay, less ironing!). “The fiber is strong, dries quickly, wicks moisture and is shrink resistant.”

The EQ-Top Seismic Wallpaper caught my eye because I wondered, idly, if it could be used to make corsets. That’s me, always wanting to repurpose materials however possible. Seriously, it’s a fiber product designed to stabilize walls during earthquakes -see what I mean about industrial grade shapewear? Okay, I don’t expect this material will have much appeal for this crowd but isn’t it cool?

Geckskin™  (also) is a product I’ve had my eye on for quite a long time. It’s an adhesive product that will compete (to some extent) in the hook and loop (Velcro) space. The fabric was designed after careful analysis of gecko foot anatomy. The video demonstration is quite impressive; a strip of fabric that is the size of a large index card, lifts 700 lbs, yet the fabric can be easily pulled from its mounting, leaving no residue at all.

Mushroom® Materials is not a material you’ll be cutting and sewing but since it may be replacing plastics (hopefully) it could be used as packaging for your items . There is more to it of course because unlike any of the other fibers in this list, it is grown, not made. Using agricultural waste products to grow the mycelium fungus, it is akin to a nature’s version of a 3D printer -with a little assistance of course. And, it’s fully compostable too. Pretty neat!

There are other fibers on the list that caught my eye -namely RamTect™, which is a wool insulating product purported to be as light as down but just as warm, but you can read about it and the other prize winning fibers at FabricLink.

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20 Comments on "Top 10 technical fabric innovations"


Sabine
1 year 2 months ago

Thanks Stu!

Stu Friedberg
1 year 2 months ago

Sabine, they’ve been sampling the Crailar fiber for a while, but only at the beginning of 2013 did they start up a full-sized production facility. A Crailar “mill” is basically a chemical factory, and you don’t invest in a full-sized chemical factory without running through at least one smaller pilot plant project first. And I am sure buyers want to take it slow with a new fiber type. Lots of testing before they put a new product on the retail market.

Crailar’s projection in December 2012 was that they’d be making a million pounds of fiber a week by the end of 2013. In August 2013, they announced plans to buy an unspecified Western European dyeing facility with existing capacity of a quarter-million pounds of fiber a week (and growth potential). This facility is at the heart of Crailar’s supply to Ikea, and in December 2013 they announced they were actually producing fiber there to Ikea orders.

Since most of their press releases focus on financials (obviously not written by or for engineers) I don’t know how well they have tracked those projections.

I would say it’s worrisome for Crailar if we don’t see retail products using it by late 2014. The delay to date doesn’t strike me as unusual for the circumstances.

Sabine
1 year 2 months ago

Looks like Crailar is still around…but despite all their partners, I have yet to see a product made form crailar. It sounds awesome, yet, where is it? It’s been 7-8 years in development by now.

Mushroom materials is my favourite product by far out of all of them.

I also really liked the milk fabric. qmilk sounds great. Am just not sure how nice it is for the animals providing the milk. If you can use the leftover protein from making greek yoghurt, that otherwise ends in the sewer and chokes down the sewage treatment plants, then that would be awesomeness indeed. http://en.qmilk.eu/

And geckskin sounded pretty darn neat as well.

Colleen
1 year 2 months ago

Kathleen, I’m sorry, that’s certainly a lot going on! When the posts slowed, I felt like Miss Clavel, from the Madeline books:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgqJSxviu6Q

Happy Mother’s Day! and hopefully some much deserved R&R for you.

Best,

Colleen

1 year 2 months ago

There are sometimes other things that are more important than working! (and taking care that all of us in here get wiser)
We miss you with patience!