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New on Technical Textiles

Testing times for waterproof clothing

The latest research from Leeds University, UK, concludes that waterproof outdoor clothing is over-engineered in the view of most of the high-end consumers that wear it. A significant majority (82%) of 575 outdoor enthusiasts (regular hikers, trekkers, mountaineers and hill walkers) surveyed in this work said water-repellence was the key factor, and the majority were indifferent to the garment’s stain- and oil-repellence.

Will consumers turn their backs on waterproof fluorocarbon finishes?

The same research rated the water-repellence of fabrics treated with non-fluorinated or fluorinated finishes and concluded they were similar across a range of textiles tested. The principal difference is that the non-fluorinated finishes do not provide oil- and stain-repellence.

Widespread concerns over the effects on human health and damage to the environment caused by using fluorinated chemicals suggest a simple outcome: switch to the alternatives technologies. Given the scale of the use of such treatments and being an advocate of the precautionary principle, I would have to agree, but with a few reservations.

Generally, alternative treatments are more expensive and consumers’ behaviour, particularly that of the wider public (outdoor enthusiasts have a reputation for having more concern for health and environmental issues than others), has been known to contradict opinions in surveys when faced with such realities. As such switches take hold, it is reasonable to expect that production costs will come down as the benefits of economies of scale are realised by the alternative treatments. However, this is not the sole reason for any differences in total costs to the consumer. The effective lifetime of the treatment is a crucial factor, and the Leeds researchers are now comparing the effects of laundering, abrasion and ageing on the two types of finish.

Further, it would be prudent to assess fully the effects on health and the environment of the non-fluorinated technologies before concluding that the problem has been solved. Even then, there are specialist garments that require stain- and oil-resistance, some of which are safety critical (such as clothing for petrochemical workers). There is much work left to be done, but happily the textile industry has on many occasions proven itself to be up to the task of reinventing solutions to the trickiest of problems.

Alternatives to fluorocarbon technologies and their relative merits will be key topics of debate at the forthcoming Textile Coating and Laminating conference to be held in Berlin, Germany, on 8-9 November 2017. Early bird registration is now open.

Early-bird Registration now open


International Conference on Textile Coating and Laminating, Berlin, Germany, 8-9 November 2017

We are pleased to announce that you can now purchase your delegate place at the Early-bird rate for the next textile coating and laminating conference. We are holding this event in Berlin, Germany at the Novotel Am Tiergarten 8-9 November 2017, in the heart of the country's capital city. 

For full information on the Conference Programme and Speakers, please visit the conference website at www.technical-textiles.online/TCL

Click here to purchase your Early-bird delegate place or Event Sponsorship. 

To download the conference brochure and booking form, click on the image below.  

Now available: World Markets for Technical Textiles To 2022

World Markets For Technical Textiles To 2022 is the ONLY current comprehensive survey of the international technical textiles industry and its future development. The report will help you to identify future business opportunities in the changing market for technical textiles. It will give you detailed and reliable information in a single volume, saving you and your company time and money.

Available now for immediate download in PDF format, or ensure your printed copy by ordering today. Click here for full information on the report and to order.


John W. McCurry reports on the latest developments from three producers of nonwovens who are all taking their first steps towards establishing international manufacturing bases by investing in the USA.

Picanol’s Global Market Manager Technical Textiles Filips Lombaert explains the loom builder’s philosophy towards this sector, already an important part of its sales and one its latest campaign aims to develop, in an exclusive interview with Editor Nick Butler held during Techtextil.

Speaking to the company during the recent Techtextil (held on 9–12 May 2017 in Frankfurt, Germany), Geoff Fisher learned that Olbo & Mehler has opened a sales office and warehouse in the USA to shorten its supply times and extend its customer base in the region, as well as taking its first steps towards manufacturing locally.

With its theme of ‘Connecting the Future’, it was only to be expected that smart fabrics – together with many complementary Industry 4.0 developments in automation, connectivity and digitized processing – would be prominently featured at this year’s Techtextil and Texprocess shows held together in Frankfurt, Germany, on 9–12 June 2017, and this certainly turned out to be the case. Adrian Wilson reports.