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It’s what you don’t see

February 8th, 2021 / By: / My Take

by Janet Preus

When you slam a car door (which you’re not supposed to do, but we all do it now and then), you may notice how loud the door slam is, or is not. If it’s quiet, it’s because there are high quality acoustic textile materials carefully placed to absorb the sound and keep you from being startled out of your seat. If you are startled, and you’re in a vehicle with low-slung interior design, you may bump your head on its “ceiling,” better known as the headliner. It is also a textile, and you can be thankful for that. 

I could keep going with the places one might find a textile—mostly nonwovens, but not all—in a vehicle. This includes all forms of transportation, by the way, not just passenger cars and trucks, and it includes the development of very sophisticated technologies that will change transportation applications in the future.

We know this because some of these changes are very much underway already, including all-electric vehicles, self-driving cars, solar-charging cars and touch-sensitive smart interiors. In fact, there’s more than one company that has developed a concept car with touch sensitive fabric interiors (see “Touch surfaces for interiors shown in concept car”). 

You may think our current featured article, “Transportation textiles on the move,” is not really about textiles, but there’s no way of talking about some of the textile advances without including the blending of expertise from a variety of industries and areas of research including electrical engineering and components, chemistry, alternative energy sources and others. No manufacturer or specialist alone can succeed at transforming something as complicated as a bus, car, truck or train into its future self.

But that seems somewhat obvious. I assure you the technological advances discussed by writer Marie O’Mahony are not possible without the integration of advanced textile components or materials – some more obvious than others, simply because they’re right in front of our faces every time we get in our car: upholstery and carpeting, for example. 

But it’s what you don’t see that may have the biggest impact on where vehicles are headed. Power sources other than fossil fuel will absolutely require that the car is lightweight enough to offer the range consumers demand. But I don’t want to give away any more of the interesting content in Mahony’s feature. Let’s just say you’re going to want to read up before buying your next car. 

Janet Preus is senior editor of Advanced Textiles Source. She can be reached at jlpreus@ifai.com.