Textile Technology & Functional Fabrics — What You Need to Know
There’s a lot of different types of fabrics with new innovations coming constantly. And with rapidly growing interest among the public in finding ways that fabrics can do more than the basics, especially in the realm of wellness and athletics.
If we can have fabrics that help us improve our wellness, or perform better, or make our exercise more efficient, then why wouldn’t we want that value added? However, along with this interest and innovation comes a lot of confusion, even among the industry, around what the different types of fabrics are and how they relate to each other.
This article will break down the most relevant types of fabrics and textiles you’re likely to come across, how they are most commonly defined in the industry, and how we talk about them in context with CELLIANT.
First, we have the broad overarching category of functional fabrics.
What are functional fabrics?
Functional fabrics are any fabric or textile product that provides some function over and above the basic function it’s primarily designed for. So, for example, an athletic shirt that wicks sweat away from the body is an extremely common and well-known type of functional fabric. There are many sub-categories of textile products within the concept of ‘functional fabrics’ because there are so many ways to give a fabric additional functionality. A product could have electronics embedded in the fabrics, for example, or it may simply have an additional coating that makes the fabric water repellent.
Common types of functional textiles are:
- Performance Textiles
- Responsive Textiles
- Smart Textiles
- Bio-responsive Textiles
- Performance Textiles
What science is used to create functional textiles?
Functional textiles are created using the complex interdisciplinary field of materials science. Materials science is the design and discovery of new materials, especially solids. In the case of Hologenix, inventors of CELLIANT, we are a materials science company that creates products that energize all aspects of life.
What are performance textiles?
Performance textiles are any textile product or fabric that has a value add that makes that fabric or textile better at its core function. These are the types of fabrics we are perhaps most familiar with. Examples of these types of fabrics include:
- odor resistant
Many textile products, of course, contain multiple performance technologies in their fabrics and will be anti-wrinkle AND stain-resistant. One of the world-leaders in performance fabrics is our partner Crypton and our unique partnership creates fabrics that are both performance and bio-responsive. But, more about bio-responsive fabrics later.
What are responsive fabrics?
Responsive fabrics are fabrics that respond to inputs. These inputs can be from the body, from electronic technology, or from the environment. Remember Hypercolor shirts from the 90s? Those would be a fun example of a responsive fabric, which, like a mood ring, changed colors based on the wearer’s body temperature. But responsive fabrics are a whole parent category, like functional textiles, and is worthwhile to understand by looking more closely at its sub-categories of smart textiles and bio-responsive textiles.
What are smart fabrics?
Smart fabrics use electronic technology, or have a digital component, to provide additional functions to a textile product. They are therefore a subset of functional fabrics, because they add functionality, and are a subset of responsive fabrics because they respond to inputs. They are uniquely smart fabrics because of how they respond to inputs — with, as mentioned, electronic technology.
Smart fabrics represent an exciting vision for the future of fabrics but finding real applications that are cost effective and offer something beyond the ‘cool’ factor will be crucial to the commercialization and widespread adoption of smart fabrics. Currently, examples that give a good idea of smart fabrics in commercial use include:
- Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket, created in partnership with Google engineering. The jacket has with conductive Jacquard™ Thread and links to your mobile device via Bluetooth so that with a tap or brush of the cuff, you can control music, screen phone calls or get directions.
- Machina’s ESP Collection which features a wide range of smart textile apparel where the articles can act as a controller and have multiple sensors.
- Eight’s Pro Pod Mattress Cover features sensors in its ‘Active Grid Cover’ that monitors your temperature and reacts accordingly.
What are bio-responsive fabrics?
Bio-responsive fabrics use inputs from their environment to create a biological response in a person or animal. It’s important to understand that these types of fabrics actually create a physiological change in the person or animal wearing (or near) the bio-responsive textile product.
What kind of fabric is CELLIANT?
Strictly speaking CELLIANT isn’t a fabric. CELLIANT is a blend of all-natural minerals that are ground to an extremely fine powder (1 micron) and then embedded into fabrics. This creates a bio-responsive fabric with certain performance fabric benefits. Critically, it must be understood that CELLIANT is embedded in the fabric, in essence becoming part of the fabric, so that it will not wash out or lose efficacy.
How does CELLIANT cause a biological response?
CELLIANT’s all-natural minerals were each selected for their unique properties, so that when combined they work to capture heat (body heat and environmental heat) and convert it into infrared energy. This infrared energy is then reflected into the body which causes physiological changes in the body at the cellular level.
What biological response does CELLIANT cause?
There are primarily two biological responses to the infrared energy that CELLIANT creates from heat energy:
- Increased local circulation
- Improved cellular oxygenation
These two primary biological responses then cause a cascade of other effects in the body, including:
- Improved temperature regulation
- Increased strength
- Increased endurance
- Improved stamina
- More restful sleep
- Faster recovery
These biological responses have been demonstrated in clinical settings. To date, CELLIANT has conducted nine peer-reviewed published studies.
What textile products are CELLIANT in?
CELLIANT powers world-class performance apparel, including:
- Under Armour’s RUSH™ collection
- Kymira’s training, running and cycling collection
- Xcel’s wetsuits
- Oxeego socks
- Titika’s active couture
Products by these brands and our entire library of brand partners take in heat energy and convert it to infrared energy causing a biological response, increased local circulation and improved cellular oxygenation, helping them to be at their best. Partner products are tested for quality control and efficacy through the use of up to four tests.
If you are interested in learning more about incorporating CELLIANT into your own brand’s products, please fill out the form below to connect with a business development representative.