Archive for the ‘Smart Fabrics’ Category

h1

Smart Fabrics 101

March 22, 2018

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Guest blog post by Linden L. Wicklund, Director of Member Services, Industrial Fabrics Association International 

Smart Fabrics Summit logoWe are fast approaching an important gathering of business and government leaders in Washington, D.C., at the Smart Fabrics Summit, co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration and the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) on April 24.  The Summit will bring together more than 200 representatives from the apparel, technology and textile industries to explore the challenges and opportunities facing designers, manufacturers, and retailers of smart fabrics and wearable products.

The capabilities of everyday textiles and apparel are rapidly expanding as new technologies are developed, redefining how we interact with our environment through clothing and other textiles.  Like cell phones, which have evolved from being used for simple phone calls to incorporating a variety of “smart” functions into a single device, textiles and apparel are evolving and gaining the ability to be used in new and innovative ways.  Smart fabrics – textile materials developed using new technologies to provide revolutionary properties – can communicate with other devices, conduct and store energy, and even monitor biometric data.  One smart fabric is an active wear jacket that allows users to control a smart phone from the jacket’s sleeve. Another cutting-edge technology offered by smart fabric technologies is a sock which tracks an infant’s heart rate and oxygen level while he or she sleeps and sends an alert to the parents’ smartphones if there is a problem.

Defining and understanding smart fabrics is key to developing product standards, intellectual property protections and export strategies. Smart fabrics can include sensors that identify or react to outside stimuli, such as environmental conditions or the wearer’s actions. Sensors may be created through electrical circuits woven into or printed on the material with chemical treatments and coatings, or through fiber or yarn engineering. Smart fabrics may change color in reaction to a stimulus, such as bandages that change color to signal an infection. Smart fabrics may collect solar energy or serve as a carrier for medicine. They can be self-cleaning and even fight air pollution.

Bar graph showing worldwide market for smart fabric products growth equates to 18 percent annually during the past four years to reach $3.1 billion in 2017.

Worldwide market for smart fabric products growth equates to 18 percent annually during the past four years to reach $3.1 billion in 2017.

Research by Jeff Rasmussen, IFAI’s Director of Market Research, shows that worldwide, the market for smart fabric products has grown by 18 percent annually during the past four years to reach $3.1 billion in 2017. With this explosive rate of growth, marketing opportunities for U.S. smart fabrics and technology firms are sure to expand. Smart fabric products may be used in multiple market segments, including fashion and entertainment, industrial and commercial, medical and healthcare, military and government, sports and fitness, and transportation.

Join us for the Smart Fabrics Summit on April 24 and learn more about what this diverse and growing market provides to U.S. manufacturers and consumers. The day’s events will include an address from Dr. Yoel Fink, CEO of Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), panel discussions covering collaboration with educational institutions, developing standards for smart fabrics, trends in public-private R&D partnerships for smart fabrics, and data security and privacy for connected textiles and apparel. The Summit will also provide demonstrations of various smart fabrics under development.  We hope to see you there!