Smart and intelligent textiles and fibres are engineered to sense, monitor, track, measure, communicate, transform, conduct, protect, react, dispense and transport. They can be changed by exposure to stimuli, such as electric and magnetic fields, stress, moisture and temperature and to perform a myriad of functions. This broad and eclectic area of textile technology evolved to find solutions to new millennium expectations in apparel and industrial applications in health, aerospace or geotechnical.
The TTNA hosted the Smart and Intelligent Textiles Conference to profile products under development and those that have reached commercial markets including wearables as well as smart textiles in sports, medical care and military applications. In short – what has been commercialised and by how much.
The event featured long term friend and colleague of the TTNA, Dr Ing. Dieter Veit, Dept. Head of Department Institut für Textiltechnik of RWTH Aachen University in Germany whose all-embracing and entertaining presentation included a working model of luminous textiles for architectural applications.
Co presenters included Dr Joselito Razal, Institute for Frontier Materials, Deakin University; Dr Lijing Wang, RMIT School of Fashion and Textiles advised the audience that multifunctional fibres are the ideal format for smart textiles, particularly if they can be integrated or embedded within a fabric by weaving or knitting with other fabric components. They forecasted that applications will be plentiful for smart apparel in sectors such as the armed forces, sports, healthcare, leisure and even fashion.
Professor Julie R Steele, Director of the Biomechanics Research Laboratory, University of Wollongong provided a moving summary of decades of research on the “Smart Bra”, including an overview of the technology underlying the device, and how biomechanics has played an essential role in understanding the structural characteristics of women’s bodies.
Ben Flavel of Geofabrics Australasia informed the audience on the world’s first commercial conductive geotextile made possible with imgne® X3 geotextile graphene technology. The product is likely to be the first smart textile used in civil infrastructure and was designed for detecting leaks in landfill, tailings dams and water storage facilities.
It would appear that opportunities in the field of smart and intelligent textile abound with the world market estimated to exceed AUD 4 billion by 2025.
LR Prof Xungai Wang; Prof Julie R Steele; Dr Joselito Razal; Kerryn Caulfield; Dr Ing. Dieter Veit; Dr Lijing Wang.