How Natural Fibres are Improving the Textile Sustainability

natural fibres

The usage of natural fibres has significantly increased in past few years. The reason behind this urge is an increasing awareness and vision of consumer about environment and climate.  In past few years, the sustainable developments in textile and apparel industry compelled manufacturers to produce eco-friendly products. The harmful effects of man-made fibres (acrylic, polyester, spandex and nylon) on environment and shortage of highly used resource (cotton) enforced authorities to conceive something new. As the current organic farming output couldn’t fulfil the present requirements of the industry. So, the industry professionals have to search out some other substitutes which could give the consumers same attributes with comparatively less cost and harm to environment.

Natural Fibres from Natural Resources:

After digging out deeply, the experts came up with some best natural resources which could be used for sustainable products. And these natural resources include; banana, pineapple, coffee, lotus, stinging nettles and hemp. The extracted natural fibres from the said resources are considered as best both for human as well as for environment. Below we shall find in detail about the usage of the natural fibres which are made from above-said natural resources.

Coffee Ground:

A Taiwan based textile company named Singtex combined the post-patented treated coffee ground with polymer (recycled PET bottles as a base) to develop the master batches before spinning it into yarn.  These coffee grounds are the same which mostly coffee makers/drinkers throw away after making the coffee. So, this company utilizes the wasted grounds and used them as a main ingredient for coffee ground natural fibres. This natural fibers based fabric has multi-functional attributes which can use both for household as well as outdoor items. The Taiwanese company introduced S.Café (coffee ground based fibres fabric) for active wears. The said fabric has anti-bacterial natural attribute and dries 200 times faster than cotton.

Moreover, it has also odor blocking and UV protection attribute. All these extra-ordinary attributes are possible with wasted bottles and coffee ground. As per the company, five bottles and 03 cups of roasted coffee ground are good enough to make one T-shirt. Now need of the time is that how we could convince more and more fashion players to use this type of fabrics which has number of attributes with less impact on globe.

Banana:  

Banana natural fibers are made from stem of banana tree. This fibre is one of the world’s strongest natural fibres with added qualities of durability and biodegradable. Anyhow, extracting a fibre from banana stem is quite hard and labor intensive job. Banana fibres are normally similar with bamboo fibres but its durability, spin ability, fineness and tensile strength is better than it. You can use banana natural fibres in different textile products. As you will have different types of thickness and weight of this fibre so you can use the suitable type according to your requirements. For banana yarn, alkaline solution is used for boiling strips of the sheath. Once it gets softer and separated then these natural fibres joined together to make a long thread which are then spun wet.

Similar to coffee grounds, the banana stems are thrown by the farmers which normally use as main ingredient for banana natural fibres. There are so many products (like mats, ropes, hand-made papers and some woven fabrics) in which banana fibre is used as a main ingredient.  A company named “Green Banana Papers” is using banana fibers for its products like purses, vegan wallets, beads and papers.

Lotus:

There are countries like Thailand and Myanmar which is extensively working on lotus based natural fibres fabric. It seems fascinating that producing fabric from lotus. But the interesting thing is that the fabric which is made from lotus natural fibres has a luxurious feeling (mixture of silk and raw linen feel). Along with that it has added feature of stain-resistant, light weight, extremely breathable and soft & silky feel. The fabric processing of lotus based natural fibre fabric is bit typical. After harvesting the lotus stem, it is cut at the end to extract long and thin fibre. These fibres are washed after extraction and then dry it for weaving on traditional hand looms. The fabric which is made with lotus fibre is normally expensive and has relatively rich look and feel.

Hemp:

Hemp fibre is considered as one the most versatile fibre in natural fibres list. It is most durable, resilient, has natural anti-bacterial and air conditioning system. The hemp’s plant is a fast growing plant which consumes less water and don’t require any fertilizer or pesticides. But despite of all its benefits, the cultivation of this plant is banned in the western world. And the reason behind this, it has direct connection with Cannabis Sativa plant which creates drugs. Anyhow, the said plant is freely cultivated in China. And currently China is contributing the 50% of total world’s hemp production. Moreover, it also owes more than +300 international patents on hemp fibers and textile production.

Stinging Nettle:   

Similarly to hemp fibre, the stinging nettle natural fiber has also resourceful features. The sting nettle fiber based fabric keeps the wearer cool in summer and warm in winter. Urtica dioica is a common example of stinging nettle. And this plant is spreading throughout Europe, North America and also occurs in North Africa and some parts of Asia. So, it has an edge on hemp that it can be cultivated anywhere in Europe and US. Moreover, it consumes less water and don’t require any pesticides or fertilizer for growth. In order to get its fibres, it harvested in summer season. After harvesting the stems, you can get its fibre after drying the stems through certain steps.

Pinatex:

Just like its name, Pinatex drive from pineapple fabric. The fabric which is made from pineapple leaf’s fibre is look like leather. The process which extracts fibre from leaves is called decortication. And the extracted fibres go through a certain industrial process to become non-woven textile.  Pinatex is a introduced by a UK based company named “Ananas Anam”. It’s a result of company’s several years efforts and research. The Pinatex is strong, versatile, breathable, soft, light, flexible fabric. And company is using this leather look fabric in both footwear and other textile accessories. Just like lotus fabric, the Pinatex is also costly fabric and normally consider as luxury item. On the other hand, the rest fabrics have potential to market them into mass level.

Why New Innovations in Conductive Textiles is Essential

Why New Innovations in Conductive Textiles is Essential

The global smart textiles products demand is increasing by every passing day. The day to day new innovations in wearables is changing the way of people’s life. If we have a look on the conductive textile market value in year 2016 then it was US$ 1.02 bn. And based on the previous and current growth rate of the market (CAGR 15.6%), it is projected to touch US$ 2.11 bn till year 2021. In year 2015, the woven textile segment was the largest consumer of conductive materials. Whereas, the leading consuming industries include military, defense, healthcare and sports & fitness. On the other hand, the minor industry users include aviation sector, automotive and architecture sectors included.

The main reason of growing demand of conductive textile is an increasing awareness about the advantages of conductive material based products. Now days, the biomarker monitors are commonly used in healthcare and fitness industry. As with the help of which, you can easily check your heart rate or can even count your steps. Due to technology useful attributes, the application of the smart wearables and other electric devices is significantly increased in military and defense industries.

Textiles New Innovations in Military and Defense:

As of now, the military and defense sector is prove to be the largest consuming sector of smart wearables of textile. At one side, nanotechnology and other electric gadgets are used for military uniform. On the other hand, a conductive textile is protecting soldiers from extreme weather conditions (hot, cold, rain, moisture etc.). Moreover, the new innovations of smart textiles can also be observed in their parachutes, tents, ropes and other daily appliances. In short, whatever the situation is there, whether it’s a matter of safety (nuclear, biological and chemical threats) or routine movement (navigation help), the usage of smart wearables is unavoidable. Along-with that now a days, the conductive textile technology is also applying in personal clothing too.

Conductive Textile Regional Growth:

Although, the Europe’s conductive textile industry growth in is really significant. And the overall research and development outcome of conductive textiles in Europe is noteworthy. It categorizes under leading consumer of conductive textiles products with the rise-in market anticipation upto US$340.6 million by year 2022. But North America remains dominant in global conductive textiles market. As its conductive textiles market value was USD 472.9 million in year 2016. And now it is projecting to rise from US$340.3 million to US$445 million for the year 2017-2022. There are also some other countries like UK, China, Germany, Japan and other Asia-pacific regions which are continuously working on the new innovations in conductive textile market.

Things to do:

Despite of hasty new innovations and hopeful future projection, the cost factor is still a big restraint in the overall growth of conductive textiles. As the high cost of conductive and other smart materials could directly affect the price of the final product.  So, in many countries, there are extensive public and Government funded research and development programs are running. And the main motive of these projects is to increase production of smart textile products with competitive cost. Especially Europe funded projects are really supporting the manufacturers to come up with new innovations in smart textile products.

How Google Jacquard Supports The Smart Levi’s Denim Jacket

How Google Jacquard Support The Smart Levi’s Denim Jacket

The global smart sensors market is expected to grow at CAGR of 11.25 percent for year 2017 – 2021. As per the recent report which covers both present scenario and the industrial growth outlook of the smart sensor market. The main and major driving force of this growth is wearable technology. As we discussed in our earlier article that how wearable technology supports health and fashion industry. Along-with that, its contribution in military and other industrial sectors (mines, wind turbines, and oil-rigs) is also really helpful. Smart sensors are normally incorporated with wearables which directly connected with the cell phones or satellite transmission.  Recently Google and Levi’s collaboration launched a new smart levi’s denim jacket for cyclists and bikers.

Levi’s Denim Jacket with Jacquard by Google:

The Google unveiled its first smart jacket based on Jacquard technology last month. It’s a joint efforts of Google’s Advanced Technology and Products (ATAP) team and the famous clothing brand Levi Strauss. This smart top is developed with the Jacquard technology. And after having a successful launch, the technology people could get an idea that Jacquard platform can be used for such connected devices too. The Levi’s denim jacket is now available online as well as some selected US stores of different cities (Chicago, New York, San Francisco & Santa Monica).

Levi’s Denim Jacket Construction:

As per Paul Dillinger, vice president of global product innovation for Levi Strauss & Co, it’s isn’t just about technology for technology’s sake. As this garment guide the cyclist about ride navigation, along-with that it ease the cyclist to perform other simple tasks without taking off his/her eyes from the road. The rider’s phone is connected with cuff snap tag wirelessly. The said snap tag also notifies the cyclist/biker about calls and massages with light or haptic feedback.

The Levi’s denim jacket’s left cuff is made with conductive yarn which enables user for touch interactivity.  So, the user can do the simple tasks like answering or disconnecting calls, change music and accessing navigation information (by voice) with no hassle.  The digital connectivity is provided by the jacquard snap tag which is attached on the sleeve cuff.  When a cyclist/biker swap on the sleeve, the tag sends the wireless signals to the phone for performing the requested action.

Levi’s Denim Jacket Functionality:

While conceiving the urban cyclist/biker into mind, the Levi’s denim jacket has stretchable shoulder fabric. It has opening in the back for ventilation as well as dropped hem in the back. During finalizing the overall shape of levi’s denim jacket, the function and ease of wearer was on top of consideration.  As per Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh, the both companies plan to integrate more functions into the jacket. And this would involve cuttin g the need to pull your phone out all the time. As he further revealed that they encountered a lot of challenges while developing such innovative product. And even at one point, the jacket’s sleeve caught fire which was later on fixed and rectified.

This is not the end, as Levi’s is continuously striving to attract its clientele with some of its own innovation in the online world. And for that sake, the company has recently launched a chatbot on its site that serves as a virtual stylist.

 

Photos: Levi’s Denim Jacket with Jacquard™ by Google