A Study of Technical Textiles - Scope and Classifications
Textile that is primarily used for its performance or functional properties and not for its appearance or aesthetics is known as technical textile. The industrial fabrics
that are used for various industrial applications are also classified as technical textiles. As such, technical textiles are the high performance fabrics that are basically used for non-consumer applications. Some textile academicians also include finished products such as ropes or tarpaulins
, and parts of other products, such as tyre cord for tyres or coverstock for diapers, in the definition of technical textile.
Scope of Technical Textile
An exceptional feature of technical textiles is the use of innumerable varieties of raw materials, processes, products and applications for their production. Some of the materials used for making technical textile are listed below.
- Metals, like steel.
- Minerals, like asbestos and glass.
- Synthetic polymers, like PES, PA, PAN, PP etc.
- Regenerated fibers like rayon fiber and acetate fiber.
- Natural fibers like cotton fiber, jute fiber, wool fiber etc.
Not only a great variety of raw materials but a multitude of processes are also employed for manufacturing technical textiles that include basic processes like weaving
and knitting and much advanced processes like stitch bonding, chemical, thermal bonding to needle punching and many more. All these processes result into various products like fibers
, and threads
that are further used for making the finished technical textile. Not only this, many processes also lead to the manufacture of end products like ropes, cords, bags
etc. The figure above goes to explain the complexity of the technical textile process chain.
Technical Textiles Classification
According to the end use, technical textiles can be divided into different categories.
These are the Agro-textiles, also known as Agrotex, that are used in agricultural applications related to growing and harvesting of crops and animals. Not only crop production, they are also used in forestry, horticulture, as well as animal and poultry rearing including animal clothing
. Agro-textiles have to be strong, elongated, stiff, bio-degradable, resistant to sunlight and toxic environment.
These are the Construction Textiles, also known as Buildtex, used in construction and architectural applications, such as for concrete reinforcement, facade foundation, interior construction, insulation, air conditioning, noise prevention, visual protection, protection against sun light, building safety etc. The field of textile architecture is also expanding as textile membranes are increasingly being used for roof construction. Such fabrics as PVC coated high tenacity PES, teflon coated glass fiber
fabrics or silicone coated PES are used extensively in football stadia, airports and hotels.
These are the Clothing Textiles, also known as Clothtex, including all those textile products that represent functional, most often hidden components, of clothing
such as interlinings
, sewing thread
, insulating fibrefill and waddings. They are the 'high performance' garment fabrics whose demand is increasingly rising with the time.
These are the Geotextiles, also known as Geotex, which are woven, nonwoven and knit fabric
used for many functions such as support, drainage and separation at or below ground level. Their application areas include civil and coastal engineering, earth and road construction, dam engineering, soil sealing and in drainage systems. Geotech have good strength, durability, low moisture absorption and thickness. Synthetic fibers
such as glass fiber, polypropylene
and acrylic fibers
are used to prevent cracking of the concrete, plastic and other building materials.
These are the Domestic Textiles, also known as Hometex, used in making of many home furnishing fabrics
including carpet backings, curtains
, wall coverings
, etc. They are mostly fire retardant fabrics whose properties are derived either by using fire retardant fibers such as modacrylic fiber or by coating the fabrics with fire retardant additives such as bromide of phosphorus compounds.
These are the Industrial Textiles, also known as Indutex, used in different ways by many industries for activities such as separating and purifying industrial products, cleaning gases and effluents, transporting materials between processes and acting as substrates for abrasive sheets and other coated products. They range from lightweight nonwoven filters, knitted nets
and brushes to heavyweight coated conveyor belts
These are the Medical Textiles, also known as Medtex. They include all the medical fabrics
that are used in health and hygiene applications in both consumer and medical markets. They are generally used in bandages and sutures that are used for stitching the wounds. Sutures and wound dressing uses fibers like silk fibers
and other synthetic fibers. Hollow synthetic fibers are used with nano particles (very small particles) for delivery of drugs to any specific part of the body. Cotton, silk, polyester, polyamide fabrics are also used in medical applications.
These textiles, also known as Mobiltex, are used in transport industry,
such as in construction of automobiles, railways, ships etc. Truck covers and restraints are significant textile end-uses in the transportation sector. They can range from simple ropes and tarpaulins to highly engineered flexible curtain systems and webbing tie-downs. Other examples include seat covers, seat belts, non-wovens for cabin air filtration, airbags, parachutes, inflatable boats
, air balloons am
These are the Eco-friendly Textiles, also known as Oekotex or Ecotex. They are mostly used in environmental protection applications - floor sealing, erosion protection, air cleaning, prevention of water pollution, water cleaning, waste treatment/recycling, depositing area construction, product extraction, domestic water sewerage plants. They are even gaining unimaginable popularity in other sectors of textile industry. Clothing, home furnishings, fashion accessories
etc. all now come in eco-friendly versions made of oekotech.
These are the Packaging Textiles, also known as Packtex. Textiles have been used for packaging since ages. It ranges from heavyweight woven fabrics used for bags, packaging sacks
, Flexible Intermediate Bulk Carriers (FIBCs) and wrappings for textile bales and carpets to the lightweight nonwovens used as durable papers, tea bags and other food and industrial product wrappings.
These are the Protective Textiles, also known as Protex, that are used in the manufacturing of protective clothing
of different types. Protection against heat and radiation for fire fighter clothing, against molten metals for welders, for bullet proof jackets or for chemical protective clothing
- all depend on the use of protech. The protective textiles are made with the help of specialty fibers such as aramid fiber
used in making of bullet proof jackets, glass fibers used in fire proof jackets etc. Sometimes the protective textile is also coated with special chemicals, for example, when used in manufacturing astronauts suits.
These are the Sports Textiles, also known as Sporttex, used mainly for making sports wear
including sports shoes
and other sports accessories
. Increasing interest in active sports and outdoor leisure activities such as flying and sailing sports, climbing, cycling, etc. has led to immense growth in the consumption of textile materials in manufacturing sporting and related goods and equipment. Synthetic fibers and coatings have largely replaced traditional cotton fabrics
and other natural fibers
in the making of spottech.